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Everything in Surprised by Joy was purposefully selected (right down to the books Lewis mentions reading) to advance the story of Lewis's road to conversion. Where he left certain details out, it was not to hide them, but because to keep the narrative moving in the way he sought. Lewis discovered God was the object of his deepest desire. Autobiography was the instrument he chose to make that argument.

McGrath wastes our time when he tries to decipher what psychological hang-ups allegedly caused Lewis to avoid salacious details about his much-discussed relationship with Mrs. Moore or mask the personal aftereffects of World War I. Too often, McGrath fails to give us Lewis, and instead tries to piece together what everyone else apparently has missed.

For all the merits of McGrath's biography, it is not the "definitive" version for which the world still yearns.

Jerry Root is associate director of the Billy Graham Center Institute of Strategic Evangelism at Wheaton College. He is the author of C. S. Lewis and a Problem of Evil: An Investigation of a Pervasive Theme (Wipf & Stock) and co-editor of The Soul of C. S. Lewis: A Meditative Journey Through Twenty-Six of His Best-Loved Writings (Tyndale).

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