08 May 2014

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

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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 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.

To write a review of Addie Zierman’s memoir, When We Were on Fire, I must start by saying: I loved it. No doubt about it. Page after page, I loved it  the honesty, the vulnerability, the brokenness, the healing, the hope… Zierman’s writing is beautiful and captivating, and I could not stop reading. And reading this memoir so soon after finishing Elizabeth Esther’s Girl at the End of the World struck me with the power of memoir and the personal narrative. I deeply respect and appreciate Zierman and her ability to write openly, emotionally, thoughtfully, sincerely. To connect fragmented moments of her past in a lyrical arc of faith and grace and love. To speak to similarities and differences in human experience and the beauty of both. Much of When We Were on Fire resonated with my experience within and because of my evangelical upbringing, yet Zierman’s bold storytelling still left me with fresh, thought-provoking insight. I know in the weeks to come, in unsuspecting moments, fragments and phrases of her well-written narrative will spark again in my mind, accompanying me in my own journey of faith. I definitely recommend Addie Zierman’s When We Were on Fire and I thank Blogging for Books for providing me with a copy of this book, along with the opportunity to read and honestly review it.

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