A book review...for those of you who come for details from my life, so sorry, I have much to share though. A wicked wipe-out in a cornfield, music festivals and drama will be appearing soon.
I've read a few memoirs in my day and I'm drawn to the entertaining storytellers who both tell it like it is and also manage to paint reality a little more 3-D, a bit glossier, or even smellier. It is a rare person who can touch on the childhood struggle of figuring out our own little acre and put that immature angst into adult language and rich visuals. Elizabeth Emerson Hancock has that gift. Her story of growing out from underneath the crushing burden of the Preacher's Kid label caused me to smile and sometimes laugh. Hancock has a knack with stringing just the right words together to make her guided tour down memory lane amusing and recognizable to anyone who has spent hours at church potlucks and in Sunday best outfits with thigh backs glued to polished oak pews.
But as well written as this series of life-lessons named for the Fruit of the Spirit is, I couldn't help but struggle with sadness while I read it. Some characters are so human (i.e. awful) I wondered if the author needs to consider forgiving them for the pain they caused in her life. I'm all for laughing, but some of these lessons on the road to faith felt a touch bitter. I know people can be hideous and mean-spirited. Church people can be some of the worst. And it's unfair for adults to put expectations of perfection on kids. I appreciate the emotional cost the author paid out to bare her soul for the world. I can't imagine the toll she paid for the expectations she placed on adults who disappointed her and crushed her tender heart. But Jesus did die for every mean Baptist Sunday School teacher, too. And He is willing to equip us to forgive and move on. I also don't think He wants us to make other human beings all-powerful in our lives and let them steal, kill and destroy our joy, peace or faith long after they perpetrated against us. Elizabeth has every right to tell her story, but I wonder whether some of her thoughts may have been better left "unsaid."
This may be one of the more difficult books I've read this year. I want to love and recommend it, but in spite of all the humor and great writing, I can't help but feel melancholy after visiting her childhood.
Click on the book cover to read more reviews at Amazon.