Self-help books often compare life to the four seasons in the natural world. Author Joké Solanké turns the idea in a new direction in her book, Understanding the Seasons of Life, which creates four new seasons as a metaphor for life’s challenges.
According to the book’s back cover, Solanké is an “inspirational speaker, mentor and coach” who helps people “discover purpose and meaning in life.” In prose that relies heavily on Bible stories, but doesn’t always clearly credit them as such, Solanké describes life as divided into seasons of “preparation,” “planting,” “contradiction,” and “flourishing.”
In this narrative, “preparation” is building a foundation for success; “planting” is about personal and professional growth; “contradiction” is a stand-in for adversity, and “flourishing,” rather than a payoff for persistence, is when we take advantage of opportunities.
While interesting, this approach presents some obstacles. Most importantly, her use of seasons quickly becomes a mixed metaphor. For example, she describes preparation by comparing it to a crack in a home’s foundation (“A life that is not well planned at the foundational level can be very costly to repair”), but she then shifts to the “planting” metaphor. The lack of consistency is jarring.
Additionally, numerous quotes are injected into the text, some credited to their authors, the others presumably Solanké’s own; some enhance the text while others (“Planting your time on frivolities will yield futility”) are more confusing than enlightening.
Finally, the section on “contradiction” contains overly simplified assumptions about depression and suicide that should be reviewed by mental health professionals; there’s a lack of sensitivity about mental health that’s unusual in a self-help book.
Understanding the Seasons of Life may connect with Christian readers who enjoy books offering gentle encouragement. However, it would benefit from edits for consistency, especially where the “seasons” are concerned, and more concrete examples to support the theories offered.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.