I have a soft spot for things Marian. It's grown, over the years, into nearly an obsession (but it's a good one, right? RIGHT?). That's why, among my books, I have a shelf dedicated to Marian books.

Imagine my delight, then, to find Chris Padgett's Wholly Mary: Mother of God in my mailbox.

I've read a few Marian books in my time, including a few of the classics and a number of recent releases. I've found, through my own writing, that there's never a shortage of things to ponder when it comes to the Blessed Virgin.

She didn't say much in Scripture, but there's a wealth of writing, thought, and devotion surrounding her.

And, from my own experience, there's a need for more.

Mary is quite misunderstood. So many of us see her as inaccessible, an impossible role model when we already struggle with perfectionism and schedules that are crammed too full.

How can we turn to Mary when (a) she lived in a time that seems so far removed from our own and (b) she never sinned? What could she know about me?

Chris Padgett must feel as strongly as I do, and in his writing I saw so much of what gets me emotional and passionate about the Mother of God. He outlines Church teaching without being overbearing, he encourages devotion without sounding overly pious, and best of all, he makes the reader laugh.

Yes, I said laugh.

Can't you just picture Mary having a good guffaw every day? Maybe, in fact, Gabriel and Mary shared a laugh after she said Yes. Maybe she was giggling as she said Yes (though without the attitude of cynical disbelief that would have accompanied my laughter).

Padgett starts with the basics and spends some time with all the big topics: the rosary, the dogmas, apparitions, and even flowers.

You know what I liked best, though? Here's a book I'll reread because I enjoyed it. It led me closer to Mary and made me consider, yet again, just how much God must love us to keep leading us back to his Mom.

Copyright 2011 Sarah Reinhard