A debut memoir combining essays and poetry that recounts a writer’s spiritual evolution and the remarkable visions that inspired it.
“I was certain that something otherworldly was occurring,” Jean writes of the moment that she saw small circles appear on her hands and felt the pain of nails coming through her palms. For her, this experience marked a turning point in her “faith journey,” as it was the first time, she says, that she experienced something supernatural—but it wouldn’t be the last. In poems and autobiographical essays, Jean connects various biblical quotations to major events of her life, including the death of her mother. After moving to Philadelphia for a new job sometime in the 1980s, Jean met her husband, Charles, and gave birth to three sons, but her life was still far from perfect; she began experiencing severe medical problems that she initially believed were due to multiple sclerosis, but proved difficult for doctors to diagnose. After the family’s move to Charlotte, North Carolina, Jean’s concentration on her Christian faith intensified, and she says that she began to see Jesus and speak with him, and even began to receive visions of heaven on Earth. These incidents eventually led to her son taking her to a hospital, but afterward, her mind continued to churn: “I sat at home talking to Jesus in my head, seeing him in my dreams, and understanding Scripture as if Heaven was flowing right through the Bible and talking to me.” In this memoir, Jean’s shifts between prose and poetry produce some startling results. At times, her writing is clear and straightforward, as in a traditional autobiography, but then suddenly she describes strange occurrences, as when she tells of feeling a “swarm of locusts blanket my body and start to eat away at my flesh.” She also presents poems in a variety of different formats, with stanzas that break into pyramidlike shapes and columns, sometimes accompanied by soft drawings. The result is often intriguing, but at times hard to follow. Overall, the earnest descriptions of supernatural events feel untethered to reality, which may make it difficult for readers to connect to them.
A poetic memoir filled with unexpected but ultimately confusing recollections of spiritual encounters.