The Two Suggestions by Andrew McIntosh attempts to attract non-Christian teens and young adults to God with Christian advice on how to deal with teen issues. The book also attempts the daunting task of simultaneously ministering to those who already know Jesus. Clearly distraught over the effects our culture has on teens, McIntosh reaches out to the addicted, abused, and disenchanted and presents his solutions to society’s problems. His two suggestions are based on Christ’s answer to the Pharisees in Matthew 22:36-40 often summarized as “Love God and love others.” The book’s tone ranges from the voice of comforting friend to the sharp wit of talk-show host, while presenting and defending a Christian worldview. Unfortunately, the book might as well be split in two; some chapters are gracious and helpful, whereas others are borderline offensive.
The first half of the book reads like many other books for teens, though it should not be regarded as just another teen book. This is where The Two Suggestions shines. Trying to counter the common teenage assumption that Christianity is nothing but a list of rules, McIntosh shows how issues like worry, money, and friendship are addressed in Scripture. He writes firmly but without seeming to be legalistic. While providing real-life examples and applications, the book demonstrates a broad yet personal understanding of teen issues. Standing alone, this part could have been an invaluable resource for many teenagers.
The problems begin in the second half of the book, when McIntosh begins to address mature matters such as pornography, homosexuality, and addictions. Many of the points made are valid, but are lost beneath a mountain of conservative editorializing and graphic narratives. There is frequent political equation of “liberal” with “godless.” This part of the book also shifts rapidly from age-appropriate dialogue to a montage of crude references to masturbation and sexuality, multiple pages of sexually explicit descriptions of pornography, and references to “cum-drenched teenage hookers.” Strong language appears several times in anecdotes, though the content makes it seem tame by comparison. Nauseatingly descriptive accounts of botched abortions and teen suicides disgust and discourage rather than uplift. Were it not for the passages of Scripture preceding these chapters, it would be difficult to realize this part of the book was supposed to be Christian. Though revealing many dark secrets faced in America, this section of the book is simply too offensive to be recommended to the book’s target audience.
McIntosh’s life experiences are fascinating, and they put him in a unique position to write this book. Having been adopted, having a career as a paramedic, and working as an advocate for teens for many years, his discussions of abortion and suicide are made powerful by personal anecdotes. The book also achieves a rare sort of balance between ministering to Christians while serving as an outreach to non-Christians, through a simplification of Scripture. Many arguments are based on Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” However, McIntosh still manages to avoid compromising any biblical truth, and concludes the book on a redeeming note through several evangelical chapters.
The Two Suggestions is something of a paradox. Many of its chapters can achieve the book’s aim of radically changing lives. Unfortunately, much of the book is completely inappropriate for most teens. This is especially disappointing because of the potential this book had to launch a legitimate cultural revolution in a wider audience. Andrew McIntosh’s The Two Suggestions earns a cautious recommendation for concerned parents and college age teens. However, for younger teens and those with weak stomachs, this book should be given a wide berth. – Ryan Dennison, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Readers of Andrew McIntosh's regular op-ed columns in The California San Diego area daily newspaper will instantly recognize the witty, biting prose he uses to drive his points home in his first book, The Two Suggestions. Teens and parents will deeply relate to McIntosh's personal and professional experiences as he shares his orphanage and adoption story, his big city paramedic career, and his various youth advocacy experiences spanning several decades. The Two Suggestions should be mandatory reading for every teenager, parent and youth advocate in America and Canada today. In the new America secular, immoral, addicted and violent. The Two Suggestions offers today's youth powerful tools to thrive in the face of confusion, anger and social cha