Beyond Awkward Side Hugs
Momma Leighellen's Book Review

My history

Here’s my take on Beyond Awkward Side Hugs by Bronwyn Lea. I have always been a tomboy – I love sports and action movies and anything that involves getting dirty.  My best friends throughout life have always been guys – Mike Sargent in elementary school.  Sean Collins in college.  Brett Wise now.  Not that I don’t LOVE my women friends (i do have those, too!), but when I want to go to a baseball game or host a poker night, it’s generally my guy friends that show up. I always joke that God knew what he was doing when he gave me 3 sons!  

Being a female church leader today

But as a woman in the church world, things have often gotten a little weird for me.  I’ve been a youth group leader, a worship director, I’ve served on countless church boards, and hosted multiple bible studies.  And often times, my connection with male staff or male students creates some sort of block.  For example – one church asked me to only pray for my female students and to find a male leader when a boy asked me for prayer.  I’m literally a mother of three boys so I knew and love many teen boys at this point! I’m not supposed to offer them support without it getting weird?  And when I led worship, I was not allowed to be alone with my other lead musician who was a man.  Which always made ME feel guilty.  

I don’t want my kids to grow up with the same narrative. Just as I grew up a tomboy, my sons don’t fit the macho male narrative.  They are all tender, well read, and passionate.  They feel deeply, love music, and some of their closest friends are girls!  So when @tlcbooktours reached out to offer me an opportunity to read this book, Beyond Awkward Side Hugs, I knew it was something I would enjoy.  

Beyond Awkward Side Hugs Review

Bronwyn Lea’s book dives right in and asks the tough question.  How do we keep relationships with the opposite sex healthy?  It doesn’t have to be weird!  Jesus doesn’t was us to live a fear-based life but a whole one filled with deep connections, no matter the other persons wiring.  Jesus hung out with the woman at the well!  He didn’t shame the woman who bathed his feet in oil.  Instead he welcomed them. Lea’s writing reminds me a bit of @sarahbessey in Jesus Feminist.  She is insightful, humorous , and honest.  Lea began her leadership as the first female director of her state’s youth leadership board and found herself the ONLY woman at the table.  But like Bessey, Lea pressed into the role and started asking hard questions – why is this the church’s reaction?  How we can change the narrative?  Is this really all Jesus wants for us? She goes on to talk about how this plays out in dating, work life, friendships, and marriage.  

Thank you @tlcbooktours and @thomasnelson for #gifting having me on this tour and sending me a physical copy of this book! If you want to read this one for yourself, I’m giving away one copy of this book! A new one, I promise, since mine is all marked up!

To read more of Momma Leighellen’s Book Nook reviews, check out other books in the blog . You can also follow along on IG or Facebook.

To find out more about Bronwyn Lea, check out her website.


  1. Sara Strand says:

    I love when a book comes right out there with a question so many have but are maybe nervous, or intimidated to ask. Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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