I devoured When We Were on Fire in one day – practically one sitting. Before I was an atheist, in my adult life, I was part of a couple of Evangelical Christian churches and youth groups during my high school and college days. In this book, Addie Zierman chronicles her own experiences with Evangelicals. It was like reading a memoir by my high school/college self, or at least someone who went to my youth group. I enjoyed reading her experiences in high school with many of the ministries and events that I attended. While Addie and I ended up in different places with our faiths, I related so deeply to her story.
The book follows Addie from age 14, at the beginning of her high school career, to age 29 or 30, when she is a married woman with a new baby. She has both positive and negative things to say about the Evangelical faith, but I think her story is one that anyone who spent any amount of time with “Church People” will relate to easily. Her search for a church later in life if similar to what I have heard many friends go through in their own lives.
This book alternates between first person and second person from chapter to chapter, which is a little odd, but I think it aids in getting the reader to relate to the character of Addie. Or perhaps it was written that way to help Addie distance herself from some of the traumas in her past. I’m not entirely sure, but it was unique. The beginning of each chapter also includes a definition of an Evangelical term, which would be helpful for people with less experience in the faith. I found those definitions to be comical but also nostalgic. I had forgotten some of the phrases since I’ve been away from the church for about 15 years.
I don’t usually enjoy memoirs, but this one hit close to home, and I couldn’t put it down. It helped that the book was only 231 pages long.
Rating: 4 Stars