Debut author Landis preaches the “good news” in her true-life story of redemption.
It was a hard-knock life in Landis’ early years. Her parents divorced when she was 8, and her mother committed suicide when she was 12. This devastating event shaped Landis’ life, sending her into a tailspin that lasted well over a decade. Despite the support of her father and stepfamily, Landis became emotionally withdrawn, feeling isolated and unloved. Thus began a downward slide into drugs, alcohol, and the wrong type of men. Landis rummages through her emotional baggage, dissecting how, in the period following her mother’s death, she wanted attention and acknowledgement yet shied away when it was offered. She lays bare all her past transgressions, tracing the path from her first tastes of alcohol to her eventual and habitual use of cocaine. Landis’ life was full of bad choices and risky behavior as she struggled with her inability to truly come to grips with her mother’s death. At one point, she was raped by a man and then went on to date him, despite her deep disgust at both him and herself. Ultimately, Landis was able to come to terms with her emotions and self-destructive behavior, attributing her redemption to Jesus Christ. Landis’ conversational narrative memoir of tragedy and triumph isn’t unique, but that doesn’t make her story any less admirable. Landis does jump among the chronology of her past, which can be confusing, and while many readers may not relate to the details of her life, the larger threads of struggle, depression, and faith are certainly familiar to many. Her relationship (or, at times, lack thereof) with Christ and religion is a consistent theme, one she finally comes to grips with in the end. However, she can sometimes push the message a little hard. As compelling as her salvation through Christ will be for some, the appeal to a broader audience may be limited, as the latter half of her memoir feels a bit like a sermon: “I wanted to carry my candle into the darkness and shine Jesus’ light for all the world.”
An honest memoir from a strong woman that will appeal to fans of Christian narratives.