A generous and unflinchingly brave memoir about faith, feminism, and freedom.

A former megachurch worship leader comes to terms with her ailing marriage and a religious system that simultaneously elevated and marginalized her.

As a teen, Hammon, the writer-in-residence for Writers in the Schools in Houston, was a vocal major at the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan. She was well on her way to carving out a career as a songwriter and performer when she became an Evangelical Christian in her mid-20s. It wasn’t exactly the path she’d originally imagined, but her newfound faith and her musical gifts seemingly aligned when she moved to Houston and eventually married her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Matt. The two often led congregations in worship as a team, though they also sometimes took jobs at separate churches. Whether she was fronting the duo or working solo, Hammon began to realize that her scope of influence was limited in the church because she was a woman. In this debut memoir, she chronicles her journey toward a “spiritual midlife,” where she dares to face questions and inconsistencies that are often at odds with conservative Evangelical doctrine. With a rare combination of candor and grace, the author exposes some of Evangelicalism’s frailties without disparaging or dismissing those who are still believers, making her narrative accessible to a wide audience. Hammon wisely focuses on storytelling and lets readers take away what they will. She also details her romantic obsession with another man; though she takes full responsibility for it, she illustrates how patriarchal religious systems and/or disengaged husbands can, among other things, leave women feeling abandoned and secretly longing for extramarital intimacy. Hammon’s story will resonate strongly with anyone who’s become disillusioned with conservative Christianity, especially women who are “trying to find a way to survive their unhappiness without dismantling their lives.”

A generous and unflinchingly brave memoir about faith, feminism, and freedom.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-940596-32-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Lookout Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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