A well-written, honest memoir that takes a multilayered view of revival.

ONCE YOU GO IN

A MEMOIR OF RADICAL FAITH

Gelsinger recounts joining a Pentecostal church as a teenager, marked by both ardor and doubt. 

By the time she was 23, debut author Gelsinger kept a lid on her “fiery Jesus days,” when she “lived for mission trips and miracles, fasting and prophecy.” But it would be years more before she could overcome her fear and guilt over backsliding. Born in tiny Pine Canyon, California, in the 1980s, Gelsinger didn’t grow up in a fundamentalist family. Home-schooled, the author and her brother spent a lot of time exploring outdoors and seldom went to church. Nevertheless, she felt “an inexplicable draw to be near God from a young age” and joined the Pine Canyon Assemblies of God when she was 13. Although Gelsinger enjoyed new friendships, she at first felt anxious and suspicious about the holy frenzy of evening services. Eventually, Gelsinger made her own altar call, speaking in tongues and “soaring with Jesus,” and was asked to join the church’s worship team. Disaster struck when her family’s home burned down. Grieving and angry, Gelsinger got a church intervention for backsliding: “You have a toxic spirit, and everyone can tell.” Her mother told her she was brainwashed, but Gelsinger’s journey away from Pine Canyon and Pentecostalism would take years longer: “I wish I had a dramatic religious escape story, but the truth is my escape involved little choices each day.” Marriage, a master’s degree in journalism, children, and talking about her past all helped; eventually, Gelsinger found a welcoming home in the Episcopal Church. Today, she runs a consultancy for writers. Vivid and engaging, this memoir shows, with honesty and intelligence, the appeal of Pentecostal religiosity to a sensitive and searching teenager—a circle of friends, a sense of purpose, and answers for every question. Gelsinger’s excellent storytelling provides illuminating vignettes on her experience and how it was so often laced with doubt even as she sought certainty. Readers who see fundamentalist religion as a monolith will come away with a much more nuanced view.

A well-written, honest memoir that takes a multilayered view of revival.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63152-429-5

Page Count: 245

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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

NIGHT

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

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