Ah, memoirs. I adore ’em. I love to read other people’s stories because so often, the fingerprints of God are all over them.
Once in a while, I stumble upon one I can’t put down, one that has me nodding my head and mumbling “Me, too” – even when I haven’t even experienced what the writer has experienced. Emotions are transferable and while I haven’t ever struggled with an eating disorder, I know the feeling of being lost. Of feeling unseen. While I haven’t experienced caring for a mother with a brain tumor, I have experienced the overwhelming feeling of too much and too many depending on me, carrying bricks on my shoulders and feeling as though I just might sink.
A few weeks ago while on vacation, I read Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look by Emily Wierenga. I was hooked. In fact, one of my favorite moments of that vacation were when my mother took my children inside and I read that book by the pool for an uninterrupted hour. Yes, people. An hour. Bliss, I tell you. Pure bliss.
Here’s Amazon’s summary:
“Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.
Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.”
And here are some quotes I highlighted while reading:
“But the thing about God is, he sees the big picture. And that big picture is framed by grace and it includes us in it, and he cares more about refining our character and our spirits than he does about acknowledging our feelings. So sometimes he risks us not liking him for the sake of the bigger picture. For the better picture” (p. 193).
” . . . sometimes it takes disappointment to remember this world is not our home” (p. 194).
“And I promise myself, even as I watch Kasher’s cheeks expand and deflate, my body feeding him, to just let my boys sit in tears for a little while. To feel the sadness with them. And maybe suffering on behalf of another is the greatest gift of all, because it offers a kind of love that sacrifices. That sees beyond today.
This is the hardest thing for a parent to do. To not fix. To just let. For then we have to trust God to do the healing, while we simply hold” (p. 233)
And trust me, there are many, many more highlighted passages I could share with you but really, you just need to read it in it’s entirety and drink the full cup of water.
I love Emily’s writing because she isn’t afraid to start sentences with “And” and she uses fragments as complete sentences. This is the kind of writing I can devour – the kind that is real, the kind that doesn’t care much about conventions but more about emotions, the kind that reaches in and touches a part of me that says, “Oh, yeah. That’s what I was thinking, too, I just couldn’t articulate it.” In other words, she’s a gifted writer.
Here’s the book trailer:
And get this . . . All proceeds go to Emily’s nonprofit in Uganda, The Lulu Tree. So when you purchase Atlas Girl, you not only get a book you won’t put down but you also support mothers in Africa who love their children just as much as we love our own but don’t have the resources we have as first-world citizens.
To order Emily’s book, click the link below. Thank you, friend.
What a moving review, dear Natalie–thank you sister, from the bottom of my heart!!!
I am currently reading this and am devouring it as well! Great review. I couldn’t agree more.