Book Review · Books

Once You Go In

Some memoirs you read and wonder where has this particular author has been all your life. If you have been disenfranchised by the church, dealt with spiritual abuse, or are wanting to find a different church expression then this book might be calling out to you.

Carly takes you into her homeschooled world of Northern California. She’s always felt different, wanting to belong and one day when she discovers Pine Canyon Assemblies Of God Church she thinks she may have found a place to fit in.

This book is Carly’s journey into the world of the charismatic church. Her descriptions of what the services can be like is spot on and the peer pressure to speak in tongues even when you may think the whole idea to be weird is huge. When Carly does finally speak her special language she describes the spiritual high she gets from it and how everything else in life sort of fades away when she’s in that mode.

I recall when I visited a charismatic church and there was pressure to be slain in the spirit. When the piano player timed the music a little too, planned I sensed the whole sham that I felt it was. Were church goers truly under the Holy Spirit’s power, or was it a false spirit? Is having what looks like seizures truly a move of God, or demonic? I left that service with my charismatic interest snuffed out.

This church is Pentecostal and on fire for Jesus which includes speaking in tongues, long prayers and being monitored by the leadership. It’s all in love right? Carly’s parents are believers, but not as intense as this church body is. She longs for approval and to be seen as worthy, to be as spiritual as her youth pastor’s wife, that befriends her.

When something goes terribly wrong on a mission trip Carly tries to chalk it up to her not listening to the rules for the trip. Other things happen where logically she feels the leadership is being overly legalistic. Carly wants so badly to do the right thing that she brushes off her gut reaction.

How do you know when a church is unhealthy, or spiritually abusive? How do you stand up for yourself when your spiritual leaders have you under their spell of sorts (not an actual spell)? Carly deals with these vital topics and more.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Once You Go In by Carly Gelsinger from She Writes Press, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are of my own will and mine. I commend Carly for writing so candidly about her church experience and faith journey. It’s not easy to share such personal moments. Thank you for baring your soul, so others know they aren’t alone in their journeys to find their spiritual home, whether that’s in a church or in a park.

Book Review · Books

Edna’s Gift

I was not prepared for this memoir. In my brain I was thinking the theme was World War II, but I was in for a surprise. This memoir takes you on the journey of two sisters, Susan and Edna. They both have a disability. Susan’s is not visible, but Edna’s is. They were very close, but in social situations Susan isn’t quite sure how to get Edna to fit in, but Edna will strike up a conversation with anyone. Susan shares how hers and Edna’s relationship morphs after Edna is sent away to a special school. This is during the era of the 50’s when there weren’t special schools close to home.

As an adult Edna lives in a community for other adults like herself who help out and live with caretakers that also live there. While Susan is living her life on the outside she wonders how Edna is doing. When her and their parents visit Edna, she realizes how much of an impact Edna has on others.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Edna’s Gift by Susan Rudnick from She Writes Press care of NetGalley. The views are my own and of my own will. This book is not an emotionally easy read. Getting help for those with a disability has changed a lot since the 50’s and 60’s, yet this book taught how important it is to help be a voice for those who may be not able to express as well, or as clearly on what they want and need. I’m glad Susan wrote about Edna’s life and her own life. Thank you for giving Edna a voice.

Book Review · Books

Bound

Elizabeth Wood finds herself being her mom’s advocate when her mom’s cancer comes back. Elizabeth’s mom has recently discovered the world of BDSM and blossomed sexually in her later years. Elizabeth is supportive of her mom exploring her sexual freedom after Elizabeth’s dad passed away when she was little.

This memoir is Elizabeth’s journey through the world of hospitals, rehab and learning to be the eyes and ears for her mom when she is too, sick to advocate for herself. How can one still fully be allowed to be a daughter and yet have to be the role of the adult when your parent isn’t in a place to make big life decisions?

What would you do if you were searching for makeup for your mom in her usual makeup bag and instead of finding a particular lipstick you discover a black dildo? Elizabeth is still shocked and yet fascinated to continue to uncover her mom’s new exploration into the world of BDSM when she goes by her mom’s apartment to bring a few things her mom needs.

Elizabeth discusses how with the parent child relationship we never discuss or contemplate that our parents have sexual lives and are sexual beings. When it comes to having to get treated at a hospital does the system take into account a patient’s sexuality and need for intimacy wether with a partner, or solo?

I received my complimentary digital copy of Bound by Elizabeth Anne Wood from NetGalley and a complimentary physical copy from Smith Publicity. The views are mine and of my own accord. This memoir portrays the emotionally tough decisions that encompass cancer treatment, the interesting world of coming to terms that your parent does have a sex life and still needs intimacy when going through treatment. The topic of BDSM is outside my vanilla comfort zone, but I think this book is a must read. I think socially we do need to promote the full care of a patient in taking into account their needs need to be met not just medically, but that the patient’s sexuality needs to be taken into account. Just because a patient may be nearing towards end of life doesn’t mean their libido has turned off.

Book Review · Books

Shunned

Shunned will break you. This memoir of faith, struggle and rebirth will have you on the edge of your seat. The author, Linda A. Curtis, was raised a JehovahWitness. She was the good girl, a Pioneer putting in many hrs of door to door evangelism. She never envisioned herself going down the road of doubt until one such door to door encounter had her hearing her message from the viewpoint of the receiver. Linda knows doubting is dangerous, but are worldly people that bad? Is what she’s been taught something her conscious can live with? Shunned is Linda’s journey to find out what happens when you step out of your assigned religious box.

If you are questioning the religion you were brought up in then Shunned just might be the book for you. Linda is honestly raw in her account of her journey. This book had me laughing, crying and cringing. There were times I just wanted to sit and weep along with Linda. I, myself, was not raised Jehovah Witness, but I know what it’s like to have your set beliefs ingrained in your brain and to step outside that belief is scary.

I did study with a Pioneer a few years ago for a few months. It was fascinating and intriguing. I felt challenged to explain why I believe what I do, which I think is good. The Pioneer I studied with thought for sure I was a Jehovah Witness because of my Bible knowledge, but I reassured her I was raised Protestant. Their study materials are impressive and they are highly organized. When I came out I pulled away from my studies because I know their view on homosexuality. I had hoped said Pioneer would still be my friend. A real friend. Sadly nope. As soon as I backed away it was like she never contacted me. When I reached out to check in I was advised I knew where I could find her. The Kingdom Hall. As long as I showed interest then you’d think she viewed me as a close friend, but as soon as that opportunity went away then I got black listed. Did she truly care about my spiritual walk and soul? Honestly I don’t think so. It came across as a numbers game. Glad I stepped back.

I received my free ARC of Shunned from NetGalley care of She Writes Press. This book has to be my number one 2018 book. It’s brilliant, respectful, insightful and most of all hopeful. Thank you Linda for sharing your heart.