I’m kind of impressed with myself for snagging an advance copy of Addie Zierman’s When We Were On Fire, which hits the market on October 15 (TUESDAY!)*. I have heard so many good things about this memoir, and I love her blog – How To Talk Evangelical – where she routinely dissects common catch phrases and clichés frequently used by Christians. I was hoping the book would live up to its praise as I often find it difficult to finish non-fiction, and part of the deal with the ARC was that I needed to review it, which meant I needed to finish it.
I was not disappointed.
Addie expertly uses second-person narration in parts of the memoir to draw you deep into her story, her recollection of growing up in the Christian culture of the 1990′s where being on fire for God was elevated above most other aspects of Christianity, especially in youth movements. She carefully picks apart her memories and almost tenderly leads you along her path. The path itself is not an easy or gentle one, which makes Addie’s style much more appreciated.
As a teen, Addie participated in familiar movements like See You At The Pole and Teen Mania. She talks about finding true friendship, about loneliness, discovering true love and recognizing unhealthy relationships while her life unfolds before you.
At times, I felt as if I had lived her story myself. And while there are many differences between her youth and mine, there were certainly many parts I could relate to and recognize. I suppose that only goes to prove that some parts of the ’90s Christian culture were universal, transcending borders and bleeding across generations.
The story is deeply moving, and despite the sometimes dark experiences she shares, Addie weaves hope and light and grace. Though some of the influencers in her life seem irredeemable, Addie carefully illustrates that life is a process, that we are all still working through this often messy faith and may even set it aside for a time.
Honestly, I don’t think I could recommend this book highly enough.
Anyone who remembers WWJD bracelets, DC Talk, See You At The Pole, among other defining moments of the ’90s Christian subculture, will surely find a common ground in this memoir.
Addie is hosting a synchroblog as part of the release of this book. You can find details at her blog, but essentially, she’s just asking that people share part of their experiences growing up, being on fire.
*Amazon affiliate link to When We Were On Fire