An eye-opening, autobiographical account of growing up waiting for the rapture.
Since birth, Hartzler has been taught that any day, Jesus could scoop his family off to heaven. To prepare, his mom leads his youth group in a song called “Countdown,” in which they sing “BLASTOFF!” at the tops of their lungs and jump as if they’re being taken into the sky. Religion shapes every aspect of Hartzler’s life, but love is also at the heart of his work. That’s what’s at stake when he starts making left turns in both his activities and his belief system in high school. He sneaks to movies his parents would never approve of, illicitly listens to popular music, and plans wild, drunken parties. He has his first kiss, and eventually he begins to think that he might like boys (but that’s not the main point). His story emphasizes discovery more than rebellion, and the narrative is carefully constructed to show and not judge the beliefs of his family and their community. That said, he’s constantly under close surveillance, and readers will wince in sympathy as they experience his punishments for what they might deem trivial actions. Hartzler’s laugh-out-loud stylings range from the subtle to the ridiculous (his grandmother on wearing lipstick: “I need just a touch, so folks won’t think we’re Pentecostal”).
A hilarious first-of-its-kind story that will surely inspire more. (Memoir. 14 & up)