Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Review: When We Were On Fire by Addie Zierman

I received a copy of When We Were On Fire  by Addie Zierman for free in order to write this review.

I really wasn't sure I was interested in reading Addie's book at first.  I'm a little burned out on reading and writing, and I honestly didn't think I'd relate to it; I thought it was more for others who grew up evangelical too and had struggled with it.  I am glad to say that I was wrong.

While I did not grow up in the same type of evangelical culture as Addie, I smiled at so many of her general references to the 1990s because I remembered them as well.

Although Addie's book is about growing up evangelical, it's not only about being evangelical.  Anyone who has been a teenage girl infatuated with an older boy can relate to that aspect of Addie's story.  Anyone who has turned to alcohol can relate to that part of Addie's story.  Anyone who has felt depressed and didn't know why and wasn't sure what exactly is wrong with them can relate to that part of Addie's story.  it's a story about being evangelical and the expectations that come with it, yes, but it is also a story about common painful experiences in life, no matter what one's faith, and that is the most important part of the story.

It is a story about a woman finding her voice and her identity.  It is a story about love and loss and faith and doubt.  It's a story about questions in faith and life.  It's a story about finding one's place in the world.  It's a story about belonging and about not belonging.  it's a story about loss and heartache and joy and redemption.  it's a story about growing up and changing in life.

Addie's book is so beautifully written.  Her writing has a poetic quality to it that makes the reader enjoy not only the story but the choice of words and how they are arranged.  This book is probably the most heart-wrenchingly honest memoir I have read and it surprised me at times at exactly how honest Addie is about her past struggles.  

This book should be a must-read for both pastors and youth pastors to enable them to see into people in their congregations that they are perhaps missing.  There is a lot of hidden pain in people in church--inflicted both by those outside the church as well as inside the church, and the more that pastors can be aware of that, the better.  

1 comment:

Jim Fisher said...

I totally agree with you. Addie is a gifted writer. Her ability to paint with words, with metaphor, with rhythm, is a gift -- not only to her, but to us as her readers as well.

Her book is for anyone who has been on fire for Jesus, has rallied around the flag pole, flashing brightly then burning out ... only to later embrace a new, more deeply rooted faith by rescuing a few warm coals from the ash heap and breathing new life into them.

It is also a must-read for any parent (like me) of children born in the 80s. Addie could be one of my daughters. And even though her trajectory is not the one my daughters followed, it certainly runs tangential to it.