Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When We Were on Fire (Book Review)

When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman is a personal memoir written with deeply rooted honesty, openly discussing the pain and loneliness Addie felt as she struggled through finding "The One" (her husband) and--at the lowest point in her life--finding The One True Savior who would pull her up from the pits of life and make her feel whole again.

I found the concept appealing, as it is incredibly relevant to Christians in our culture today, a culture of doubt and questions, a culture that doesn't really know what to believe. Especially in the young adult generation. This book opens up the discussion of depression, loneliness, doubt...and brings about an "okayness" to making ourselves vulnerable and sharing the dark pieces of our lives with others. Addie talks about ways she felt burned by the church and by "Church People" and how that deeply impacted how she felt in churches and around Christians. And also how she eventually worked through those feelings to become reconnected with the Church.

This level of relevance and honesty make the book worth reading--for some. While engaged in the story, I found myself a little uninterested at the beginning. It was so focused on her teenage romances, bouncing from boy to boy that she liked or dated in high school, that I eventually thought, Well, maybe this book just isn't for me...but maybe it would be good for younger adults or teenagers, girls who are starting to go through some of these struggles with teenage Christian dating. There are some good guidelines in here that I would probably want my daughter to follow in her dating life as well.

And then I kept reading. I realized I would not want my teenagers daughters reading this at all. Though the second half of the book is where the story really starts to develop and you really start to dig down to a deeper level of this author's character and her struggle (and recovery!), you also find some mixed messages. You find a message that it's okay to curse when you're upset (I disagree), that it's okay to stay out of a church family (I disagree; though I will add that she did go back to church in the end), and that it's okay to remove prayer from your life as long as you are doing something that is "like" prayer for you (I disagree). Though I understand that everyone worships in a different way, and that you can use anything to create an intimate experience with the Lord, nothing takes away from the need to communicate and to really engage in two-way conversation with God. That is a crucial element to having a relationship with this relational God.

Additionally, I found it a little bothersome to follow at times just because of the writing style. It was a very easy read, which was great; but the author often switched between first-person and second-person in her narratives, which seemed completely unnecessary since she was often continuing the same mini-story, just on a different page.

If you are interested in gaining a glimpse of the book before purchasing, read the first chapter here.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.