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When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over

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In the strange, us-versus-them Christian subculture of the 1990s, a person’s faith was measured by how many WWJD bracelets she wore and whether he had kissed dating goodbye.   Evangelical poster child Addie Zierman wore three bracelets asking what Jesus would do. She also led two Bible studies and listened exclusively to Christian music. She was on fire for God and unaware t In the strange, us-versus-them Christian subculture of the 1990s, a person’s faith was measured by how many WWJD bracelets she wore and whether he had kissed dating goodbye.   Evangelical poster child Addie Zierman wore three bracelets asking what Jesus would do. She also led two Bible studies and listened exclusively to Christian music. She was on fire for God and unaware that the flame was dwindling—until it burned out.   Addie chronicles her journey through church culture and first love, and her entrance—unprepared and angry—into marriage. When she drops out of church and very nearly her marriage as well, it is on a sea of tequila and depression. She isn’t sure if she’ll ever go back.   When We Were on Fire is a funny, heartbreaking story of untangling oneself from what is expected to arrive at faith that is not bound by tradition or current church fashion. Addie looks for what lasts when nothing else seems worth keeping. It’s a story for doubters, cynics, and anyone who has felt alone in church.


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In the strange, us-versus-them Christian subculture of the 1990s, a person’s faith was measured by how many WWJD bracelets she wore and whether he had kissed dating goodbye.   Evangelical poster child Addie Zierman wore three bracelets asking what Jesus would do. She also led two Bible studies and listened exclusively to Christian music. She was on fire for God and unaware t In the strange, us-versus-them Christian subculture of the 1990s, a person’s faith was measured by how many WWJD bracelets she wore and whether he had kissed dating goodbye.   Evangelical poster child Addie Zierman wore three bracelets asking what Jesus would do. She also led two Bible studies and listened exclusively to Christian music. She was on fire for God and unaware that the flame was dwindling—until it burned out.   Addie chronicles her journey through church culture and first love, and her entrance—unprepared and angry—into marriage. When she drops out of church and very nearly her marriage as well, it is on a sea of tequila and depression. She isn’t sure if she’ll ever go back.   When We Were on Fire is a funny, heartbreaking story of untangling oneself from what is expected to arrive at faith that is not bound by tradition or current church fashion. Addie looks for what lasts when nothing else seems worth keeping. It’s a story for doubters, cynics, and anyone who has felt alone in church.

30 review for When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over

  1. 4 out of 5

    Karrie

    I want to start out by saying two very important things. First, the book was well written. It was an easy read (you can read it in a day). She is an eloquent writer with good voice and paints a real picture about life in evangelical circles. The Christianese definitions for each chapter is a really nice touch. Second, I don't want to discount anyone's story (but I think I might with this review). Everyone has a story and I want to respect that. I also don't want to undermine the seriousness of de I want to start out by saying two very important things. First, the book was well written. It was an easy read (you can read it in a day). She is an eloquent writer with good voice and paints a real picture about life in evangelical circles. The Christianese definitions for each chapter is a really nice touch. Second, I don't want to discount anyone's story (but I think I might with this review). Everyone has a story and I want to respect that. I also don't want to undermine the seriousness of depression. It's rocky. It's messy. It's difficult. It's different for each person. It's debilitating. It's horrible. I know this about depression - so I don't want to minimize her experience. I want to respect her experience, but I also want to be honest. I have the utmost respect for people who put their story out there. BUT I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who has experienced great pain in life. If only we could all be so lucky to experience a life like she wrote about. There is a definite, specific audience for this book. I am not it, but I know some people that will love it. I can relate to much of her neatly written story. I stood out in the rain on See You at the Pole. And I went to the rallies. And I gave up my lunch to pray and I came early for Bible Study. I wore a purity ring. And I watched God work. Seriously, it was like I was reading what my high school experience would have been if I lived in my current town - which was also weird. I've never read a book that so intimately describes the places, the people...the pieces of my puzzle. My favorite quote came from page 76... "If you had done what you wanted to do instead of watching over the boys and their vows...if you had allowed yourself to be hurt the usual ways that teenage boys hurt teenage girls instead of falling so nobly on the sword of the Spirit, a constant sacrifice, dying again and again to your own desires, then maybe it would not have gone like this" This deeply resonated with me. As a Christian school girl who prayed for God to do mighty things in my school and watched Him do mighty things in my school, I thought "falling on the sword of the Spirit" was my job and Biblical. Time and time again, I fell on the sword and my heart got broken. And then, I picked up the pieces and moved on. And I wonder what my life would be if we all stopped blaming God for the things "He led us" to do and spoke the truth. I think my broken heart might have mended easier if boys didn't blame my brokenness on God's will. I think her story is like many of us who grew up as teenagers in the 90s. When it was easy to be on fire - because everyone around us was. There was Brio magazine and it was cool to go on missions trips and we could listen to Christian music at Berean bookstore with our friends for hours on end. When even if we didn't want to talk about "how our walk was going" we still knew we were okay because God was shoved in our face every step of the way. He didn't seem far away. But there is so much more to this conversation. What has happened to us after the youth group went away? What happened when we realized the things we had done for God actually became our god? What happened when you realized you put too much faith in people and not enough faith in God? What has happened after we started getting involved in a church and then the church hurt us not once, but twice and more? What happens when you're waiting, waiting, waiting on God? What happens when you're daily faced with the brokenness of the world we live in? How do we pick ourselves up from the sword we really fell on...reality? I realize this is a memoir, so it can't give answers. But it left me wanting more. More conversation on faith, on God, on recovering from the sad parts of life. When the book ended, I felt like I had read a Karen Kingsbury book - it was a neatly written story, with a little messiness, and then it got tied up with a pretty bow.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    This book was a revelation. And I say that in the true sense of the word. Where do I begin? First of all, it was scary. The similarities were so freaky, I could barely stop myself from yelling out loud while I was reading it. And I kind of want to read it again, to take notes or something. I'm glad that Addie and her husband were able to work things out, but in the middle when things were uncertain and he was still churchy and she wasn't I kept thinking to myself, she's going to have to leave hi This book was a revelation. And I say that in the true sense of the word. Where do I begin? First of all, it was scary. The similarities were so freaky, I could barely stop myself from yelling out loud while I was reading it. And I kind of want to read it again, to take notes or something. I'm glad that Addie and her husband were able to work things out, but in the middle when things were uncertain and he was still churchy and she wasn't I kept thinking to myself, she's going to have to leave him, this will never work. And the reason I thought that is because a guy I dated in college, is still a preacher, still living in his same home town doing the work of the Lord, and if the person I am today ran into the person he still is today, there wouldn't be anything in the whole wide world that could convince me to be with him. I got the feeling while I was reading that I had been duped somehow. Like at Word of Life camp and youth group and the True Love Waits thing. I kept thinking that it was a sham, I lived through a sham. Even the whole dating a guy and loving a guy because of his relationship with God and not who he was as a person...it all hit so freakily close to home. My rebellion against the church I grew up in, and I say church as a general word, happened on Martha's Vineyard when I was at a semester away from college. A defining shift in my life occurred during that time and I have never been the same. I think it was the people I was around, the creativity, the liberation to be a Christian and embrace the beautiful things in this world, like music and art and comedy. My mind was blown in the best possible way, and when I went back to college, it was as though everything there was exposed for what it was, a fraud. And I still believe that, I still feel that the environment is one that perpetuates an ideology of judgement and the fakeness of the perfect Christian life. Living the Bible Belt, I have felt my inner self rebel against the "Christian" life I see around me. What I see on the conservative southern right is a tendency to believe that the way they live is the ONLY way to live, that people who live or believe in any other way are wrong and that the world is black and white. The older I get, the more gray things seem, the more complicated life becomes when friends die and people get sick and those you thought you could count on just tell you to pray your way through it. My boyfriend says, "All we can do is hope our hearts are guiding us in the right direction. What our mothers believe has no bearing on who God is to us." And I think it is so wise. The part in the book where Addie mentioned throwing the word "shitty" into conversation to see what the facial expression was, because if the person could handle the word "shitty" they were a safe Christian, and I realized that I unconsciously do that same thing. I guess, this book made me feel normal. I love the Lord. I am imperfect, a screw-up. I mess things up every single day and live the most imperfect life ever and kick myself all the time for my lack of filter and for the ways I probably unintentionally hurt people. But to say that because my life is damaged and broken and imperfect that I am an offense to God...well, I don't know how to take that. I makes me want to never be around "unsafe" Christians again. Jesus could handle the offensive people, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the duplicitous pharisees, the dare I mention fuck-sayers of the world...he could handle them. He told them where their mistakes were, but he also told the righteous idiots to lay off, to leave them alone, to cast the stones if they themselves had not sinned. So yes, my life doesn't look textbook Christian, but I hope that someday I can apologize to Jesus for that and know that his love will still encompass all that I am, all that he created me to be. I could be very flawed in this logic, but again, just hoping my heart will lead me in the right direction...regardless, it always leads me back to God, so there's that.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Anne Bogel

    I might come back and give this one 5 stars, but I want to sit with it for a little longer before I do that. I only give 5 stars to excellent books that are life-changing, and this just might be one of them. What I loved: I know the author through her blog, but this is not a blogger's book. It is a true memoir, not a collection of essays, and certainly not a padded, glammed-up collection of blog posts. And like the author, I grew up in the evangelical church and have a lot of baggage there--espec I might come back and give this one 5 stars, but I want to sit with it for a little longer before I do that. I only give 5 stars to excellent books that are life-changing, and this just might be one of them. What I loved: I know the author through her blog, but this is not a blogger's book. It is a true memoir, not a collection of essays, and certainly not a padded, glammed-up collection of blog posts. And like the author, I grew up in the evangelical church and have a lot of baggage there--especially boy baggage--and I appreciated how the author was able to imbue events that may not sound super-significant on the surface (I dated a guy, he turned out to be a jerk, etc) with the weight they deserved. Typically with a memoir like this, I'd like to see a little more distance between the time of writing and the time of the events. But this was a great read, so I'll give it a pass. Also as I recall, Addie got a two-book deal. I'm really looking forward to hearing more about book #2, which I will definitely be reading after this strong debut.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    Well, here's the thing. I didn't really love this book. But then again, I read it in a span of less than 10 hours (and that included going to Chick-fil-a and Wednesday night prayer meeting in between; how's that for irony?)... First of all, let me get out of the way the things I didn't like: 1. the language (sorry, I just still can't get behind an f-bomb, no matter how edgy I'm feeling) 2. her constant shifting between "you" and first person 3. the self-centeredness of it all. Lots of people have go Well, here's the thing. I didn't really love this book. But then again, I read it in a span of less than 10 hours (and that included going to Chick-fil-a and Wednesday night prayer meeting in between; how's that for irony?)... First of all, let me get out of the way the things I didn't like: 1. the language (sorry, I just still can't get behind an f-bomb, no matter how edgy I'm feeling) 2. her constant shifting between "you" and first person 3. the self-centeredness of it all. Lots of people have gone through what she's gone through. Feeling awkward in high school. Not getting the part you wanted in the play. Heartbreak over high school boyfriends don't always lead to depression and near-affairs later in life. I get that this is memoir, but it still felt a little juvenile to me. Then again, I had rock-star parents who wisely told me from early on, no one is thinking about you that much. Lovingly, you are not that special to the world. Extreme self-consciousness is a form of pride. She has a lot going for her--two dear life-long friends, an intact home life, an education, a loving husband. So why so whiny? But for all that, I could have written this book. The author literally is exactly my age so her experiences with movements such as See You at the Pole and True Love Waits came at the same moments in my youth. White I grew up Baptist and she Free Evangelical, our experiences (and apparently CD collections) were identical. But where she found loneliness and tinny emptiness, I, by God's grace, found people who loved and taught and shepherded my heart. Imperfect people, yes. Searching people, yes. Sometimes brash and annoying people. But then again, sometimes I am mean, selfish, insincere, too blunt. I feel she judges The Church People too harshly, and by a standard she herself wouldn't live up to. She mentions no one asked her if she was lonely. But I don't see anywhere here where she would have had the interest or emotional maturity to notice someone else who was lonely in her drunken state. She says in the Epilogue that there are no heroes or villains. But I found Evangelicals who weren't completely comfortable in the presence of her questioning, alcoholic, searching, self-absorbed days and years villianized. So I guess it's not really the book I didn't like as much as the author (whoops, I judged!). I am getting a little weary of this whole the-90s-Evangelicals-had-it-so-wrong-and-scarred-me-for-life-and-now-we've-got-it-figured-out so much better genre. Read Lauren Winner instead. Unless you want a watered down version of Donald Miller with some seriously fun inside Christian bookstore jokes.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Memoirs of faith and doubt are of special interest to me (I wrote my Victorian Literature MA dissertation on women’s loss of faith narratives), so I had high hopes – and Zierman didn’t disappoint with this terrific debut about her disillusionment with evangelical Christianity and the process of moving from cynicism to a new kind of sustainable faith. So much of Zierman’s story resonated with me. Like her, I was brought up in a strong Christian family (“born again” at the age of five) and spent my Memoirs of faith and doubt are of special interest to me (I wrote my Victorian Literature MA dissertation on women’s loss of faith narratives), so I had high hopes – and Zierman didn’t disappoint with this terrific debut about her disillusionment with evangelical Christianity and the process of moving from cynicism to a new kind of sustainable faith. So much of Zierman’s story resonated with me. Like her, I was brought up in a strong Christian family (“born again” at the age of five) and spent my childhood and teen years in the bosom of Evangelicalism: memorizing scripture verses for Awana club, attending youth group, Bible studies and Christian summer camp, and becoming a massive fan of Christian contemporary music. She writes about filling her shelves with Michael W. Smith, Newsboys, DC Talk and Jars of Clay albums, learning every word to Amy Grant’s Baby Baby album, and attending an Insyderz (Christian ska) concert – that was me, too. (In fact, I think Zierman and I are exact contemporaries; we were both high school freshmen in 1997.) Zierman was a poster girl for Evangelicalism in her high school years. One year she was (or so she thought) the only person to turn up in the pouring rain for the annual See You at the Pole prayer event. She went on a summer Teen Mania missions trip to the Dominican Republic, where she was a mime in a gospel presentation. For goodness’ sake, she even anointed a cafeteria table with cooking oil! She also had a string of what she calls “missionary boyfriends,” especially Chris, an emotionally manipulative youth group leader and Teen Mania intern. Throughout, Zierman suggests with hindsight, there must have been a voice in the back of her mind telling her that this was all false and she was only fooling herself and wasting her time, but she gave in to naïve conformism: “I thought I was choosing something extraordinary. I thought this would all turn out differently.” Still, Zierman continued on to attend a Christian college, Northwestern in Minnesota. Her two prim roommates turned her further off Evangelicals, but her two best friends from high school, Kim and Alissa, sustained her even when far away. She fell in love with Andrew and they married in the summer after their junior year. (He’s still her husband, so he’s clearly not one of the things she left behind on the journey into doubt!) The Ziermans spent a year teaching English in Pinghu, China, to fulfill Andrew’s international business requirement. Zierman was terribly lonely there – “the longer we stay here, the more I feel myself disappearing” – and that depression followed her back to the States and all through their quest, at home and abroad, to find meaningful communities and a church home. “Maybe if I’d been able to stand up and talk about the darkness, it would not have consumed me,” she wonders, but as it was, no one seemed to truly see her. They tried a big Evangelical church, then a house church, but everywhere they went people seemed superficial and judgmental. No one noticed her pain. “I am falling. I am dead weight, and there is no one to catch me.” This was “loneliness deep and penetrating and unaffected by the presence of a husband or the stability of marriage.” (I know what she’s talking about.) Things got worse before they got better. Zierman wanted to quit the house church, even though Andrew loved it. She started drinking, and was tempted to have an affair with a guy she met at her local coffee shop. But eventually she made her way out of depression, through Christian therapy, antidepressants and EMDR treatments, marriage counselling, a dog, a home of their own, and – despite the many ways she’d been hurt and let down by “Church People” over the years – a good-enough church. The darkness didn’t last forever. If I have one complaint about this book, it’s that the literary effects occasionally seem a bit forced. Zierman shifts from past to present tense, and from the first person (though never the first-person plural suggested by the title) to the second person. Initially this is quite disorienting, though I can see that perhaps Zierman was doing it deliberately for the distancing effect – it’s a way of making the content less raw, and also emphasizing that her past self was a different person. As the book progresses, these point-of-view changes become more seamless, such that you hardly notice them. All the same, at times I wanted Zierman to drop the literary tricks and just tell the story. Nonetheless, there was something very cathartic for me about reading this memoir. It’s honest and doesn’t give pat answers; it fully acknowledges the ongoing pain of losing faith, and the often silent struggle against loneliness and depression. In the end, Zierman’s faith journey is nothing that can be summed up in some trite three-minute testimony; it’s a continuing story of turbulence, with peaks and troughs. “The future will be a mix of both of these things: the devotion and the cynicism. You have to find a way for them to coexist within you. Let them destroy each other, and your fragile faith may shatter entirely.” I would recommend this book to anyone who has pushed – to any extent – against the boundaries of their faith, but has decided they’re not ready to give up on it just yet. (A couple of other great books in this genre are Leaving Alexandria by Richard Holloway and Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor. Some books that might help convince you that there’s something worth preserving from all Christianity’s nonsense are A New Kind of Christianity by Brian D. McLaren, The Heart of Christianity by Marcus J. Borg, Falling Upward by Richard Rohr, Secrets in the Dark by Frederick Buechner, and Anne Lamott’s popular theology memoirs.) I was delighted to win a First Reads giveaway copy.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Kramer

    When We Were On Fire is stunningly crafted and full of grace. Our stories aren't exactly the same but my friend Addie and I both grew up in the evangelical subculture and we've both struggled to find our place in the church since then. You could take the same subculture and string together words that wound. Yet there are no bad guys here. This is real life and it's reflected throughout the memoir. It's gritty and sometimes the language is salty. By naming and honoring the dark parts, we let the When We Were On Fire is stunningly crafted and full of grace. Our stories aren't exactly the same but my friend Addie and I both grew up in the evangelical subculture and we've both struggled to find our place in the church since then. You could take the same subculture and string together words that wound. Yet there are no bad guys here. This is real life and it's reflected throughout the memoir. It's gritty and sometimes the language is salty. By naming and honoring the dark parts, we let the light in. Addie's writing is nothing but authentic and perhaps that's why it resonated so strongly with me. Her words were a balm time and again. I don't just love this book, I adore it. I want its truths to settle down deep in me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    L.K. Simonds

    Addie Zierman's memoir piqued my curiosity because lately I've heard people talk about a "Millennial migration" away from church-going. Millennials aren't the first generation to stumble over church culture. I know plenty of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who consider themselves spiritual but want nothing to do with "organized religion." I have my own experience too. Many years ago, when I first gave serious thought to following Christ, one of the challenges I had to work through was having to hang o Addie Zierman's memoir piqued my curiosity because lately I've heard people talk about a "Millennial migration" away from church-going. Millennials aren't the first generation to stumble over church culture. I know plenty of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who consider themselves spiritual but want nothing to do with "organized religion." I have my own experience too. Many years ago, when I first gave serious thought to following Christ, one of the challenges I had to work through was having to hang out with "church people." So I was really curious to hear (Audible edition) what Ms. Zierman had to say. I have to be honest. I expected bitterness. Instead I encountered generosity and grace. It's that perspective that makes When We Were on Fire a worthwhile read. I'd go as far as saying this memoir is a must-read for ministers of all stripes, especially youth ministers, and for parents who are raising their kids in church culture. Ms. Zierman makes it abundantly clear there's a difference between following Christ and immersing oneself in a culture. At this point, I could go on and on about what it means to be in the world and not of the world. But you aren't reading this review to get a sermon on John 17 from me. Suffice it to say When We Were on Fire is a great read to begin a journey of forgiving past offenses and rediscovering fellowship with the Lord and other believers. It's an even better read to help one avoid taking offense in the first place.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    I don’t want to be mean, because this is an earnest book from a real place about a thing I have gone through and so have many others in my life. So I will keep it to the very basics. What I wanted: an earnest account of bizarro US teen evangelism in the 90s, with some meat. What drove the movements? How were they funded? How did they end or have they ended? Some bigger picture, with a narrative structure to support it. Instead, this is a hyper personal account, from someone who had a relatively pr I don’t want to be mean, because this is an earnest book from a real place about a thing I have gone through and so have many others in my life. So I will keep it to the very basics. What I wanted: an earnest account of bizarro US teen evangelism in the 90s, with some meat. What drove the movements? How were they funded? How did they end or have they ended? Some bigger picture, with a narrative structure to support it. Instead, this is a hyper personal account, from someone who had a relatively pretty tame year of departure from her evangelical path, and who has maintained her faith on the other side. There’s maybe a beauty in that, conceptually. However, the book suffers from very melodramatic writing, and very micro anecdotes of conversations that take on a Babysitters Club tone at times. If it had taken more than a few hours to mostly skim, I wouldn’t have finished it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andi

    At some moments as I read Zierman's words, I felt myself go rigid - YES, YES, that's exactly how I felt, I thought. As someone who is recovering from many of the wounds of her evangelical upbringing, this book gave me hope and perspective and a reminder that grace is extended to all. . . A great read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Remember WWJD bracelets? True Love Waits pledges? See You at the Pole events? If so, you may have grown up in the 90's. While I didn't grow up in an Evangelical household I did grow up in those circles. I had a bracelet, signed a pledge, and probably would have seen you at the pole, had I not been homeschooled. I knew everything that Addie spoke of in the beginning of her book. What I don't know is...what was the point? I either missed it entirely or there truly isn't one to the book. Don't get m Remember WWJD bracelets? True Love Waits pledges? See You at the Pole events? If so, you may have grown up in the 90's. While I didn't grow up in an Evangelical household I did grow up in those circles. I had a bracelet, signed a pledge, and probably would have seen you at the pole, had I not been homeschooled. I knew everything that Addie spoke of in the beginning of her book. What I don't know is...what was the point? I either missed it entirely or there truly isn't one to the book. Don't get me wrong, it was an enjoyable read, but several things stood out for me and bothered me. First of all, the constant back and forth between first and second person wasn't just confusing but downright annoying. I've never seen a book written this way. When I saw that Addie studied creative nonfiction in college I realized that she was trying too hard to be creative in the writing of this book. It didn't work. Not only that, but at many points Addie was too good of a writer (is that possible?!) and used so many filler paragraphs that seemed more like a descriptive poem than a part of her story. Some descriptions went on and on and on and added no value to the story. Sometimes less really is more. The introduction of swearing halfway through the book didn't seem to fit either. There wasn't much about Addie's parents or home life in this book. Quite frankly, from what I gathered from the book, is that she became a Jesus freak, not that she grew up in a household like that. She seemed to follow these crowds at school and immerse herself into this lifestyle. She chose this lifestyle herself. Her life seems pretty ideal, albeit a bit lonely at times. So all of a sudden when she heads off to college and deems herself "broken" all because of a fairly tame high school breakup you wonder where that comes from. While I applaud her for her honestly throughout the next several chapters detailing some struggles in life, I felt like she blamed her religious upbringing for them, when they are struggles that people from all walks of life deal with (and aren't even all that bad, really, compared to most). The therapy sessions at the end of the book are what knocked me off my rocker. Rehashing old boyfriend issues as a cause of your life struggles is so "politically correct". After finishing the book I'm still confused. Was it a book about how her religion and boyfriend caused her depression as an adult? Or was it just a memoir, showcasing the different stages of life? I, like other reviewers, feel like this is two books in one...the first half which I could relate to greatly, dealing with the 90's "WWJD" movement and then the second half where she deals with marriage, depression, and motherhood; possibly blaming the latter on the first and losing many reads with that conclusion? I read it in an evening and did find it interesting. I think many 90's kids could relate to the beginning of the book. Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Weeks

    I know memoirs are obviously about one's life, but this author was so self-absorbed, it was hard to get past that. And while she had legitimate complaints about the evangelical culture she was raised in, I believe she was better off being raised as she was than being raised without any faith. It just seems like blaming her religious culture was the easy way out rather than taking ownership of her decisions and choices. Still, it was a fairly well-written book and it kept my interest.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kari

    This is the story of an entire generation of people who were raised in the church and then found we had nothing of substance to hold on to when it didn’t work like we were told it was supposed to. Full review here: http://throughaglass.net/archives/201... This is the story of an entire generation of people who were raised in the church and then found we had nothing of substance to hold on to when it didn’t work like we were told it was supposed to. Full review here: http://throughaglass.net/archives/201...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ansley Gerhard

    I know I’m later to the Addie Zierman party but this book was excellent. I saw a bit of myself in the book, a young girl “on fire for Christ” only to find herself burnt out by her faith. May we keep creating beautiful things out of the rubble. “Take the word saved as it is used in the evangelical vernacular. It’s true, you are saved by grace, by love, by light … but it’s only half the story. The truth is that there is so much that you’re not saved from. You are not saved from pain or loneliness I know I’m later to the Addie Zierman party but this book was excellent. I saw a bit of myself in the book, a young girl “on fire for Christ” only to find herself burnt out by her faith. May we keep creating beautiful things out of the rubble. “Take the word saved as it is used in the evangelical vernacular. It’s true, you are saved by grace, by love, by light … but it’s only half the story. The truth is that there is so much that you’re not saved from. You are not saved from pain or loneliness or the bite of reality sharp against your skin. You’re not saved from rained-out picnics, from disappointment, from the unkindness of strangers. You’re not saved from lost jobs or lost loves or cancer or car accidents. Saved. But they say, It’s not religion, it’s a relationship. They say, God loves the sinner but hates the sin. They say, Let go and let God. And they’re worse than cliché, really. They’re thought-terminating cliché, a term that psychologist, Robert Lifton, coined in his book Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism. In this type of cliché, “the most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed.”

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emily Vander Ark

    Remember the 90s? Remember the tidal wave of cool that was flooding our churches, our youth groups, our prayers? Most of us do, in a vague, foggy kind of way. In this beautiful memoir, Addie Zierman writes about this era of Christianity with a candidness and a clarity that not only reminds us of what was going on, but puts into words the questions many have had, in hindsight, about what was really going on. Starting off each chapter with a piece of “Christianese” (words Christians use that need t Remember the 90s? Remember the tidal wave of cool that was flooding our churches, our youth groups, our prayers? Most of us do, in a vague, foggy kind of way. In this beautiful memoir, Addie Zierman writes about this era of Christianity with a candidness and a clarity that not only reminds us of what was going on, but puts into words the questions many have had, in hindsight, about what was really going on. Starting off each chapter with a piece of “Christianese” (words Christians use that need to be explained to everyone else) and a definition, Zierman talks about things I haven’t thought about in years – things like AWANA, See You At the Pole, Teen Mania, WWJD bracelets. Back then, it seemed like in order to be a good Christian, all you had to do was dress modestly (a Jesus promoting t-shirt for every day of the week), be active at church (short-term mission trips, Bible study, etc.), and pray (fill journals with your girl cursive telling God how great he was and what you were feeling, who you liked, why you wanted God to make you a missionary). To be a super-Christian, you had to be a missionary. You had to be willing to leave it all and go live somewhere else. Because that’s what Jesus did for us, right? Zierman’s book certainly doesn’t bash missionaries, and neither am I. She simply confesses in an honest and non-judgmental way that the reason she wanted to be a missionary during high school was not because of God, but because of Christianity. I’ve had a feeling about this for a few years now, and I was delighted to read the story of someone who decided not to be a missionary. (She still spent a year in China with her husband, but she was teaching English, not Bible stories, and it was hard, and they came back.) After painting a picture of how clearly “on fire” for Jesus she was in high school, Zierman describes the experience of going to a small Christian college in a way that shows exactly how it is – for some people (I being one of them). At home she was the Bible study leader, the righteous one. At school, the Christians who had gotten everything right judged her for not having their taste in decorating, listening to non-Christian music, and going on late night walks with a boy. She described this experience not as a backsliding in her relationship with Christ, but as a disillusionment with evangelicalism. It was too stifling, too pigeon-holed, too legalistic. From there, she describes the loneliness she felt, even after her marriage, as for many years she was unable to find within evangelicalism the community and deep understanding and friendship that she craved. She slid into depression, mild alcoholism, and emotional adultery. It took a long time and a lot of counseling to make it back – a lot of forgiveness directed toward things that happened back when she was on fire. But she did make it, and this book is her beautiful story. There were very few things in this book I disagreed with. Usually I take this as a warning sign, that maybe I am not thinking about the book critically enough. But it’s a memoir! It’s hard to disagree with someone’s life. What I did feel was an astounding sense of recognition. That Zierman’s story is not just hers. That it belongs to a generation that was duped into believing they were holy if they wore enough Jesus t-shirts, sang enough songs, met every dilemma with WWJD? Anyone can learn from this book. Everyone can respond to it, whether you grew up in, were consumed by, or are struggling to recover from the Christian subculture that led everyone to believe that fires could never go out.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Our stories may not be the same, but I grew up in a wonderful Christian home in the very midst of the whole super-evangelical era too, so I can understand the joy and pain of it all. And eerily, the latter half of that phrase I just shared with you feels almost like a sobbing confession, rather than a proud admission. Don't get me wrong. I cling to my faith, not bound by title or tradition, tightly. I love Jesus, and His people. But I have definitely been hurt by my fair share of overly zealous Our stories may not be the same, but I grew up in a wonderful Christian home in the very midst of the whole super-evangelical era too, so I can understand the joy and pain of it all. And eerily, the latter half of that phrase I just shared with you feels almost like a sobbing confession, rather than a proud admission. Don't get me wrong. I cling to my faith, not bound by title or tradition, tightly. I love Jesus, and His people. But I have definitely been hurt by my fair share of overly zealous "Church People" over the last 24 years, like the author herself. Fast forward to now: I have found love and grace and forgiveness. And it looks a lot like Jesus. But enough about me. Addie's story of faith-on-fire, faith lost, then faith reborn, is inspiring and heartbreaking and thought-provoking, all entwined together in an easy to read, gorgeously blue-covered package. If you want to know the truth, well, I kind of couldn't stop reading this book, because it just completely resonates with me and my wandering-soul right now. On another note, can I just fawn over the layout of this redemption filled story for a moment? There are 4 moving parts to this memoir: Obsession, Disillusion, Rebellion, and Redemption. Each section spoke to my heart in such a unique way, because I felt like I had and have been seeing a lot of these faith motions in my own spiritual life within the last 24 years. Oh, and the chapters? The chapters are brilliantly segmented off with different Christianese Vocab, like: Three-Minute Testimony, True Love Waits, Born Again, Evangelicalism, WWJD, etc. We may as well get real here . . . I don't think I've ever nodded my head up-and-down in such an oh-my-gosh-I-totally-get-what-you're-saying-girlfriend way so many times in a row. This memoir is chock full of those shockingly true revelation filled moments, when it comes to talking, and having lived the evangelical life through all of its ups and downs, that is. So, if you are looking for hope and grace and a glimpse into some real gritty faith-filled questioning and truth-seeking, then you need to meander your way through the unique, vulnerable, and beautifully crafted pages of this memoir. You'll be glad that you did.

  16. 4 out of 5

    maggie

    I was a young mother at the time of which this book writes. In England, but we still had Psalty the singing song book and an ACE church school. By the time I feebly tried it on with 'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' my daughters laughed in my face. Phew. I believe that there is an important spiritual dimension to humanity mostly denied by the public institutions and media of the northern hemisphere. I believe that the words of the bible are true and Jesus' evaluation of the condition of man is true. Bec I was a young mother at the time of which this book writes. In England, but we still had Psalty the singing song book and an ACE church school. By the time I feebly tried it on with 'I Kissed Dating Goodbye' my daughters laughed in my face. Phew. I believe that there is an important spiritual dimension to humanity mostly denied by the public institutions and media of the northern hemisphere. I believe that the words of the bible are true and Jesus' evaluation of the condition of man is true. Because of this, for me it has been vital to communicate that to my children. As a mother I did my tired and flawed best. Those of us who came to faith during the 60s and 70s, saw the rampant rise of sex, drugs and rock&roll as society started shaking off its accepted moral values, based on Christian ground rules. God was no longer a given. Teenagers naturally gravitate to 'cool stuff' so the Christian culture of the 1980s and 90s offered trendy Christian alternatives to almost everything. We didn't want our children to be lured away by the immoral excitements of 'the world'. We wanted to protect our children, to teach them about Jesus so that one day they would see for themselves the truth and beauty of him and choose to follow him. But as this book shows, this worthy motivation has a strong whiff of desperation and often a resultant outworking of controlling people. Zierman writes articulately and ruthlessly about her Christian subculture youth. It needed to be said. But trying to raise a Christian family is a bit like grooming a child to be a concert pianist - they lose a lot of 'normal' childhood but gain something admirable, even awesome. Zierman didn't have a normal teen life, but what would that have looked like? Something desirable? This book shows that 'there is no such thing as 'cut and dried' in a world of broken humanity'. There's no perfect, safe upbringing. I'm glad that her faith grew into something more authentic and she wasn't broken irrevocably on the way. Like Zierman, I hope that Christians can learn to see people and not stereotypes. I want to learn to live and love in this broken, messy, beautiful world. This story is a perfect 'case in point' for Richard Rohr's 'Falling Upward'.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    An outstanding memoir from Addie Zierman. Her experiences growing up in the evangelical church are on one hand very typical, and on the other hand completely unique to her. This mix of the very familiar with the personal made When We Were on Fire an engrossing and compelling read. Addie's honesty in sharing her story removed any possibility of sugar coating her experiences and reactions to those experiences, but I found her story to be a mix of vulnerability, challenge, and inspiration. It caused An outstanding memoir from Addie Zierman. Her experiences growing up in the evangelical church are on one hand very typical, and on the other hand completely unique to her. This mix of the very familiar with the personal made When We Were on Fire an engrossing and compelling read. Addie's honesty in sharing her story removed any possibility of sugar coating her experiences and reactions to those experiences, but I found her story to be a mix of vulnerability, challenge, and inspiration. It caused me to stop and consider my own attitudes towards fellow believers and the church. Having said all that, it should be noted that Addie's story is not for everyone. Some may be quick to discount her experiences as being just more complaining from another disgruntled. Some will be at a loss to understand what the problem was. Unfortunately, both those reactions to her story will cause the reader to miss the gentle truth of her message. Recommended for open minded Christians who are seeking reality of Christ and faith in the midst of all the hype, cliches, and human expectations.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Keshun

    This book spoke to me because I have an evangelical background. The story is quite similar to mine, minus a few things here and there. I thought the prose was unnecessarily flattering in some spots; it felt a bit too lyrical for some scenarios. I found myself thinking the author should have written a little more concisely and less poetic. However, the story felt believable and provoked empathy but as it wraps up there seems to be some back pedaling esoteric speak that confused me and had me wond This book spoke to me because I have an evangelical background. The story is quite similar to mine, minus a few things here and there. I thought the prose was unnecessarily flattering in some spots; it felt a bit too lyrical for some scenarios. I found myself thinking the author should have written a little more concisely and less poetic. However, the story felt believable and provoked empathy but as it wraps up there seems to be some back pedaling esoteric speak that confused me and had me wondering about the point of this, what sometimes feels premature, memoir. Overall, I am glad I read it. It felt good to know that there were others out there with a similar struggle with religion and emotions I had.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    Started strong, with the author painting an uncannily familiar portrait of being an evangelical teen in the 90s. I too had a boyfriend break up with me For The Lord! I too used the words "my walk with God" in a sentence unironically! But somewhere along the way, the writing got really flowery and dramatic & I just stopped finding her struggle all that sympathetic. The author dwells a LOT on her kind of semi-rebellion (she drinks and flirts!) but I would have much preferred to hear about how she Started strong, with the author painting an uncannily familiar portrait of being an evangelical teen in the 90s. I too had a boyfriend break up with me For The Lord! I too used the words "my walk with God" in a sentence unironically! But somewhere along the way, the writing got really flowery and dramatic & I just stopped finding her struggle all that sympathetic. The author dwells a LOT on her kind of semi-rebellion (she drinks and flirts!) but I would have much preferred to hear about how she wrestles with winding up right back in the same kind of evangelical church that caused her depression in the first place. I'm glad she has somehow healed, since MANY people abused by evangelical purity culture are never so lucky -- I just don't quite get how it happened.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Christie Purifoy

    Beautifully written. She describes the religious landscape of my own childhood and adolescence, but I think this one will appeal to anyone interested in the vicissitudes of faith and doubt. I especially appreciate Zierman's attention to the language of faith. Words have such power, especially religious words, but we can use them so unthinkingly, so reflexively. Her stories breathe nuance and complexity into old words and cliches.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    This is probably going to be a dnf for me. I love religious memoirs; I don't mind mental illness memoirs. But this woman is utterly exhausting. For someone who complains about how isolating, judgmental and uncaring the Evangelical culture is, she spends a hell of a lot of time looking down her nose at everyone, including people who do nothing but try to be nice to her. Every little thing is a perceived slight or a reason for a passive-aggressive comment. Being depressed never brings out the best This is probably going to be a dnf for me. I love religious memoirs; I don't mind mental illness memoirs. But this woman is utterly exhausting. For someone who complains about how isolating, judgmental and uncaring the Evangelical culture is, she spends a hell of a lot of time looking down her nose at everyone, including people who do nothing but try to be nice to her. Every little thing is a perceived slight or a reason for a passive-aggressive comment. Being depressed never brings out the best in anyone, but even as she writes the book it seems like she still can't get her head around why everyone didn't clamor to be her best friend within seconds of meeting her. She's extremely condescending and self-righteous, and the kicker is, I generally agree with her on everything (except the existence of God, I guess). The snobbery is not on anyone else's end (barring her college roommates). I get that it's an autobiography, but she comes off as one of those people who never realized they're not the center of the universe. She seems incredibly self-absorbed. She's still angry that no one at her home church realized she was depressed and just makes a comment about that when someone apologizes profusely and says they would've tried to help if they'd known. Someone she barely knows didn't intuit her emotional problems, and she genuinely thinks this is their problem. Her argument is that she's been attending this church for a year - but nothing about the book gives the impression that she's done nothing but silently attend services occasionally saying a word or two. Depression makes it hard to connect with people, it's true, but it's certainly not THEIR fault. People try to reach out to her, and she snubs them. She's also pretty crappy to her husband, and I think it says a lot about him that he stuck the marriage out. And I do find it a bit confusing (or just gross) how she's pinpointed all the different points of toxicity in her church's culture when it comes to herself, but still thinks missionary work is a noble endeavor, just not one for her. Which...again this viewpoint could change later in the book, but as far as I've gotten, she sees no irony in making missionary work all about herself and the other missionaries, with no mention of the people she's there to "serve," and of course no mention as to the harmfulness of her brand of missionary work. The writing is also just mediocre and gives no sense of time passing. I often couldn't tell if things ten pages ago had occurred months or years before the current event being described. I was here really for the 90s eXtreme youth worship culture, though, and I got a little bit of that, though not as much as I would have liked. I did appreciate her comment on how for those teens, Jesus basically became an extracurricular activity or a club to belong to moreso than having anything to do with faith.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Justin Daniel

    I think we've all been there: you spent too much time reading a book that you had so much hope for but didn't really care for in the end. Well, while I was browsing Facebook one afternoon, I stumbled upon a blog written by Mrs. Zierman called, "How to Talk to an Evangelical" (http://addiezierman.com).  This led me to her book, "When We Were on Fire" with that crazy long subtitle. It was only 7 dollars on Amazon, so I thought why not? The book is just as it says: a memoir of this lady's life. It s I think we've all been there: you spent too much time reading a book that you had so much hope for but didn't really care for in the end. Well, while I was browsing Facebook one afternoon, I stumbled upon a blog written by Mrs. Zierman called, "How to Talk to an Evangelical" (http://addiezierman.com).  This led me to her book, "When We Were on Fire" with that crazy long subtitle. It was only 7 dollars on Amazon, so I thought why not? The book is just as it says: a memoir of this lady's life. It starts out as a person reminiscing about a typical 1990's evangelical childhood, one that I can fully sympathize with: See You at the Pole Rally, Awana, Psalty that big blue Bible that sang songs, etc. She makes a few good points early on: how commercial Evangelicalism has become (or was), how you could order everything out of a Bible book store catalog among other things. But there was always a sense of cynicism towards Christianity in her thoughts: for example, at the beginning of each chapter there is a definition of an Evangelical term that is brutally misrepresented, like "born again" which traces itself back to John 3, and is not typically Evangelical but Biblical. As her life moves on, she talks about a love affair with a "missionary" boy, a boy (notice: not man) who wants her to be spiritual as "spiritual" as he is. She deals with again, some good points: the fact that sometimes people want to be seen as hyper-spiritual, even legalistic, when they are not authentic. After getting married to a man in college, she begins a downward slide into alcoholism and depression but returns to a "normal" life after months of therapy and begins to attend Church again after a long departure. Somethings I disagree with: 1) The consistent erroneous ecclesiology. Throughout the book, the Church is displayed in a negative light, most often from the hypocritical people inside the Church. She displays modern Evangelicals as consuming, hyper-spiritual, cliche Bible-thumpers who don't care about people (in certain circles at least). Her view of the Church seems to have an emphasis on receiving. In one section, she says, "When the pastor begins his sermon, I page through the church bulletin, trying to get a sense of the church's ministries. The flow of its resources and attention. I am looking, specifically, for what they have to offer us: Married, in our early twenties, without kids. I am looking for a kind of instant community. A kind of magic. I am looking for Our People- the ones who will become our dearest friends. The ones who will get us immediately the second we meet." Obviously, this is the wrong motive of pursuing Church. Yes, community is essential to the Christian life. Yes, the Church does offer people all those things and more. But don't for a second think that the primary purpose of the Church is to serve you. Equally as important is that you serve the Church. Notice there was no emphasis on the teaching, just what programs and ministries can serve you. Does that seem inconsistent? 2) The Church is two-fold. Firstly, it is the universal body of believers, those who are in Christ, who are brought into the kingdom of God and who live like brothers and sisters in that body. Secondly, the Church is the local body of believers that engage in community and fellowship. True, the Church doesn't always have to be in a "building" per say, but the idea that the body of Christ is more important than the Church is not accurate: they are both important. The idea one gets when reading through some of the things Mr. Zierman thinks about the Church displays, again, a false eccelisiology: "'But we are the Church,' Andrew said. This is one of his favorite biblical truths, this idea of church as a moveable feast, an ever-present community-church not as a place you go to, with walls and crosses and long rows of pews, but as something that happens spontaneously when two or three Christians are gathered together in one location." If that was true, then why go to Church at all when you can just meet with believers outside of the institution? Jesus said "Love your wife as I have loved the Church," therefore it is important and we should note the distinction of the two. 3) At the end, she finds a Church to her liking. She describes it: "At Grace Community Church, they are raising money to start a counseling center, so they can help those who cannot afford therapy get to the bottom of their bottomless darkness... They are building wells so that clean water flows from the dry, cracked earth. They are providing oil changes to single mothers, free of charge. They are looking at the world that is shifting, these people in this church. They are clunking along the best they can, trying their damnedest to shift alongside it." This description is void of things that should be more primary: how is the teaching? What small groups are available? What doctrinal positions do they hold to? This brings me to my next point: While I think books like Amos detail the horrors of when Israel failed to be socially minded, on the flip-side, when the Church is only socially minded, it will never represent the true Gospel. The social Gospel is noble: feeding the homeless, being active in the community, all things that I am 100% for. But when we bypass doctrine and theology for love, we miss an essential part of the Gospel. Dr. John MacArthur said, "We all know how young people are interested in social justice, and how Christianity…even evangelical Christianity non-Charismatic has turned away from the gospel. Why has it turned away from the gospel? If you go to a place that’s been through a difficult time, you go to New Orleans after a hurricane, or whatever, and you start reaching out to people, if you go and sit them down and say, “Let me tell you why you need to come to Jesus Christ because you’re a sinner,” and you go through the gospel. What kind of reception are you going to get? You’ll probably going to run out of the house, it’s going to be very difficult, people aren’t going to buy in. But show up with food, show up with clothes, they will love you. They will embrace you and say you’re doing this in the name of Jesus. That kind of stuff is easy." I could say more but I think that is enough. Most disappointing for me, was the book went through this long process to describe how heartbreaking the Church was for this woman and in the end, it didn't seem like anything was better. It seemed like there was still bitterness for past hurts and not enough emphasis on what is truly important in the Church.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I started this earlier today as a lighter alternative to some of the other audiobooks I have started, but I ended up really appreciated it. It turns out that Addie Zierman is a few years older than me, grew up in the midwest like me, and that the Newsboys song "Shine" played an oversized part in her life, just as it did in mine. I toured the college she graduated from when I was looking at schools, and when she writes about having a breakdown in a Caribou Coffee, I can picture more or less what t I started this earlier today as a lighter alternative to some of the other audiobooks I have started, but I ended up really appreciated it. It turns out that Addie Zierman is a few years older than me, grew up in the midwest like me, and that the Newsboys song "Shine" played an oversized part in her life, just as it did in mine. I toured the college she graduated from when I was looking at schools, and when she writes about having a breakdown in a Caribou Coffee, I can picture more or less what that Caribou Coffee would look like. And those are just the superficial areas of overlap. So I enjoyed it because it reflected my experiences, but beyond those personal reasons, it's also well-written, gracious, and honest. It's not necessarily a must-read, but it's worth the time if you're interested. One final thought – I was struck by the ways Zierman's story echoes and contrasts with the story Elisabeth Elliot told in Passion & Purity. They both write about falling hard for a handsome young Christian man intent on becoming a missionary, and they both describe being left in limbo while they waited for their respective young men to determine if it's "really God's will" for them to be together. And they both describe being shamed by their partner for not being modest enough or holy enough, or for distracting him from his own calling. The difference being that Elisabeth Elliot valorized Jim Elliot's behavior towards her and held it up as a model for young people to follow, and Addie Zierman saw a therapist to work through the harm it did her, and wrote a memoir for people recovering from the same experience. Needless to say, I'm with Zierman on that.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rose Peterson

    Much of this book resonated with my childhood in the church, from events like SYATP and Awana to terminology like "walk" and "I'm feeling led..." I appreciated someone else making visible their grappling with an Evangelical upbringing, something that is often only written about with accolades, not examination. I felt Zierman was a bit glib in her insights in the second half of the book, though. She consistently directed her angst at the people of the church without acknowledging that those people Much of this book resonated with my childhood in the church, from events like SYATP and Awana to terminology like "walk" and "I'm feeling led..." I appreciated someone else making visible their grappling with an Evangelical upbringing, something that is often only written about with accolades, not examination. I felt Zierman was a bit glib in her insights in the second half of the book, though. She consistently directed her angst at the people of the church without acknowledging that those people and their behaviors stemmed from the theological underpinnings of the religion itself. She never challenged the foundations, just the people who built their lives on them. She also made her "recovery" seem smoother and easier than I'm sure it was. It seemed like once she got married, bought a house, and had a kid, everything got better--something her college self railed against. I wanted some meatier exploration than just, "We knew we were going to go to church or abandon church, so we decided to go." This book was worth reading to me because it validated my religious upbringing but left me longing for deeper analysis.

  25. 5 out of 5

    S.T. Gibson

    This is a visceral, bang-up memoir that shines light on the experience of growing up female in the evangelical 90s/aughts boom. I waited to read it until I felt like I had enough distance from my own childhood and young adulthood caught up in the throes of a socio-political movement that so deftly leveraged the earnestness of young people. I'm glad I did, because I was able to re-examine all these cultural phenomena and shared traumas a little bit more objectively. The book might feel a little d This is a visceral, bang-up memoir that shines light on the experience of growing up female in the evangelical 90s/aughts boom. I waited to read it until I felt like I had enough distance from my own childhood and young adulthood caught up in the throes of a socio-political movement that so deftly leveraged the earnestness of young people. I'm glad I did, because I was able to re-examine all these cultural phenomena and shared traumas a little bit more objectively. The book might feel a little dated for anyone who didn't experience the fever-pitch decade of evangelicalism firsthand, but the writing is lyrical and lovely. It's still structured and delivered in the language of that tradition, framing her life with the efficient neatness that contemporary Christianity loves, but since this is a memoir, authentic to the author's own life, I'm willing to overlook this.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Elise Burger

    “your life after christ is not static or an end result. you are not suspended in grace above the fray of life. you are looking at god through a kaleidoscope. your life moves, and the beads shift, and something new emerges. you are defining. redefining. figuring it out all over again. you are in motion, in transit, in flux. you will be sad. you will be happy. you will love and doubt and cry and rage, and all of it matters. you are human, and you are beloved, and this is what it means to be alive.” “your life after christ is not static or an end result. you are not suspended in grace above the fray of life. you are looking at god through a kaleidoscope. your life moves, and the beads shift, and something new emerges. you are defining. redefining. figuring it out all over again. you are in motion, in transit, in flux. you will be sad. you will be happy. you will love and doubt and cry and rage, and all of it matters. you are human, and you are beloved, and this is what it means to be alive.” couldn’t put this one down. recommend to absolutely everyone — so comforting and thought provoking and gentle! one of my favorites of all time

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Though Zierman is a few years my senior, I related to this on so many levels. At times funny and even at times emotional to the point of being a bit triggering, I gleaned so much from this reading (or in my case listening) experience. Ultimately, I was just comforted to know that I’m not the only one to have gone through these same experiences. And even more so, I’m happy to know that there’s a bit of hope on the other end of it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    A lyrical, immersive, and eminently relatable journey through the loneliest parts of early life. I thought I'd find this book interesting. I didn't expect to find it instructive in the craft of memoir writing. It was. As a writer, Zierman has a command of place and time that makes each wound--and moment of grace--feel immediate and fresh.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Derrick Harris

    I really enjoyed learning the author's story. She has had a unique experience but one that unfortunately mimics many others. I find myself constantly trying to navigate the mediocrity of "church people," just as she does. I wish her well and truly enjoyed learning her story!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katie Allen

    I really enjoyed this memoir! I grew up in the church around the same time period. And although my experiences were different, I could relate to a lot of things she went through.

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