Archives For Memoir


Trading in our Comfortable Lives
for Kingdom-oriented Ones
A Feature Review of 

Falling Free:
Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted
Shannan Martin 

Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2016.
Buy Now:  [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Tiffany Malloy
Sometimes I doubt if Jesus knew what he was talking about.

The season of Advent is upon us, and as I settle into this season of waiting and pondering, I quickly find myself living in the tension of believing Jesus’ words and walking through the aisles of Target.

I find myself wanting another scarf more than I want to give to someone else. Is it really better to give than to receive?

Every time I push my red cart to my empty trunk, feeling the thrill of new things, I struggle to accept Jesus’ words. Does not our quality of life consist in our abundance of possessions?

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In and Through the Chaos
A Feature Review of

How to Survive a Shipwreck:
Help is on the Way and Love is Already Here
Jonathan Martin

Paperback: Zondervan, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle  ] 
Reviewed by Douglas Graves
There are a great deal of “how to” resources for Christians these days. We hope for easy answers and are drawn to step-by-step instructions on how to live a healthy, happy, pleasant Christian life. Yet despite what seems like a recent rise in conversation around deconstruction–especially in regards to faith–there isn’t much writing on how to deconstruct gracefully. Jonathan Martin, however, has written an exceptionally moving book that does just that, and so much more. Despite the title, to classify How to Survive a Shipwreck as another “how to live the Christian life” book would be like calling Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath one of his best works; it most certainly is, but it ignores and belittles the heartache and pain found in the pages of that great American novel. Likewise, Martin’s attempt at “how to” delves into the deepest parts of the soul and comes out not only alive, but hopeful.

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A Vulnerable Call

A Feature Review of 

The Broken Way: A Daring Path Into the Abundant Life
Ann Voskamp

Hardback: Zondervan, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]


Reviewed by Zena Neds-Fox


I took Ann Voskamp’s new book down to the water.  It was a perfect morning.  A fish actually jumped in the lake and geese flew overhead in a September blue sky.  I came anticipating the beauty I knew Ann’s words would hold.  A beautiful place for a beautiful book.  But the truth is that Ann Voskamp’s greatest power has always been to knock the wind out of her readers.  To take them out at the knees.  The Broken Way is no exception.  We come to her wanting comfort and she’s glad to give it – at a price.

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The Whole Cacophony
of Human Experience

A Review of 

Living with a Dead Language:
My Romance with Latin

Ann Patty

Hardback: Viking, 2016.
Buy now:  [ AmazonKindle
Reviewed by Sam Chamelin
It seems unlikely that anyone would pick up a book about learning Latin, unless you have already had the pleasure of diving into this dusty corner of academia.  That’s precisely how I came to this book.  Like Ann Patty, I am a Latinist, and her descriptions of small, dark, and somewhat awkward undergraduate Latin students returned me to my own studies at Ursinus College.  I remember that my professor, John Wickersham, once brought an impression made from a ring of Julius Caesar as a “Show and Tell” piece, and he encouraged us to take a look.  We obliged, and yet somehow failed to match his excitement over the piece.  When we had finished our staid examination of his child-like exuberance, he chastised us with surprising fervor, saying that we hadn’t properly paid respect to our proximity to history.  “You are touching something that touched something that touched Julius Caesar,” he bellowed.  “I want you to touch it, get your fingers into it.  LOOK at it.”  With that, we passed it around again, paying more fervid attention to this historic item to the third degree.

While Ann Patty lacks the characteristic eccentricity of professional Latinists, she seems just as eager as Dr. Wickersham to connect the lives of readers to this far-from-dead language.  In this surprising and engaging memoir, Living with a Dead Language:  My Romance with Latin, Patty leads us to put our minds, our fingers, and indeed even our lives into the study of this language.  In doing so, she introduces us to a world where languages aren’t dead; rather, the continue to be a primary means by which we make sense of the world and our own lives.  Patty is happy to allow her life to serve as a template for this journey.

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One of the best new book releases of this week is:

Finding God in the Waves:
How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science

Mike McHargue

Hardback: Convergent Books, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Watch a book trailer video
for this great new book:

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Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:

(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to the book…)

Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith

D.L. Mayfield


Read a review from Christianity Today


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We Don’t Have to be Afraid

A Feature Review of 

Night Driving:
A Story of Faith in the Dark

Addie Zierman

Paperback: Convergent, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]   [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Anna Visser

In the darkness of an endless Minnesota winter, Addie Zierman packs her kids (ages two and four) into a minivan along with toys, games, DVDs, and an elaborate tote system for clothing, and she drives, away from the darkness and the death and the emptiness, to Florida. It’s a familiar enough story: an epic road trip to escape a winter both literal and metaphorical. A mom a little worn down by the typical routines of everyday life. An adult who’s not quite sure what to make of faith in a life that doesn’t look like the big, wide, passionate life promised by church groups and Christian rallies for kids in high school. Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark isn’t all that different from a lot of the memoirs that line our shelves—Christian or non—it is, at its heart, a story about searching. But the thing that is different about this story and about Zierman, and the thing that makes this book refreshing and valuable is that she’s not angry.

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The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

A Review of 

Spiritual Sobriety:
Stumbling Back to Faith When Good Religion Goes Bad

Elizabeth Esther

Paperback: Convergent Books, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Kristin Williams
I didn’t want to be moved by Elizabeth Esther’s new book, Spiritual Sobriety.  I started reading it with a little notebook beside me, thinking I could keep track of all the ways I disagreed with what Esther was saying.  I don’t have a story of what Esther calls “good religion gone bad” and I didn’t even think I believed a person could be addicted to religion.  It sounded a little hokey to me so I was prepared to find a lot to dismiss and nothing I could relate to in this new book.

Then I read the first chapter and kept seeing myself.  Elizabeth Esther spends the first chapter defining spiritual sobriety and, in large part, the definition revolves around what it is not.  She describes her first religious high, the first time she asked Jesus to live in her heart and how she wanted to keep experiencing that high and so she asked Him into her heart again the next day.  She kept seeking that high in many of the same ways I looked for spiritual highs: knowing all the answers, winning “sword drills” in youth group and surging forward at the decision time of conferences and concerts.  She, and I, used God for how He made us feel and also, perhaps, for the blessings we were sure He would pour out on us because of the displays of devotion that we offered God.

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Sensing Death So Close at Hand

A Review of

And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye
Kara Tippetts

Paperback: David C. Cook, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Tiffany Malloy


When I first heard about Kara Tippetts, I was sitting in a circle of moms, talking and sipping hot tea while our kids were gleefully wreaking havoc on the playroom downstairs.

“Hey! Have you all heard about that woman in Colorado who is dying of cancer and blogging through it? This woman is amazing. You have to check out her blog, it’s called Mundane Faithfulness. But I’m warning you, you’ll definitely shed some tears….”

While the rest of the moms continued talking, I turned my attention to a toddler who had found an abandoned pile of goldfish crackers on the table.  As I watched him happily enjoying some other kid’s snack bounty, I tried to think about something, anything, other than that dying momma of 4 young children. Any parent knows it doesn’t take long before our imagination gets the best of us and suddenly WE’RE dying of cancer and how-in-the-world-are-our-kids-going-to-make-it-without-us and–oh no – we need to make an appointment with our lawyer to make sure our will is up-to-date.

It was too early in the morning for that kind of heartache.

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A Slow-unfolding, Meditative Walk

A Review of

Roots & Sky: A Journey Home in Four Seasons
Christie Purifoy

Paperback: Revell, 2016
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle


Reviewed by Shari Dragovich


I have spent the majority of my adult life journeying home. In 1997, I married my high-school sweetheart. Neither of us were finished with school. We lived in two different apartments by the time my husband graduated medical school in 2000 and was launched into active duty service with the U.S. Army. Over the next thirteen years we lived in five more houses across the country. With each move, I tried my best to thrive where God planted me. Yet, during all those years I held deep within the longing for arrival; the hope of a land I could call home. A place I might grow deep roots rather than the shallow ones easily pulled free. I wondered, though, as a Christian were my thoughts sinful? Hadn’t I been taught this world is not my home? Was it possible my longings were just that—my own—and never God’s intention for me this side of eternity?

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