Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler
"Aaron Hartzler grew up in a home where he was taught that at any moment Jesus might come down in the twinkling of an eye, and scoop his whole family up to Heaven. As a kid, Aaron was thrilled by the idea that each day might be his last one on planet Earth. He couldn't wait to blastoff and join Jesus in the sky!
But as he turns sixteen, Aaron finds himself more and more attached to his life on Earth, and curious about all the things his family forsakes for the Lord. He begins to realize he doesn't want the Rapture to happen, just yet; not before he sees his first movie, stars in the school play, or has his first kiss. Before long, Aaron makes the plunge from conflicted do-gooder to full-fledged teen rebel.
Whether he's sneaking out, making out, or at the piano playing hymns with a hangover, Aaron learns a few lessons that can't be found in the Bible. He discovers the best friends aren't always the ones your mom and dad approve of, and the tricky part about believing is that no one can do it for you.
In this funny and heartfelt coming of age memoir, debut author Aaron Hartzler recalls his teenage journey to find the person he is without losing the family who loves him. It's a story about losing your faith, finding your place, and learning your very own truth--which is always stranger than fiction."-summary from Amazon
This book is a little different from what I normally review, as it's a Young Adult memoir, but the synopsis really pulled me in. I'm fascinated by this particular brand of religion, so it was interesting to read someone's account of it who was now an adult and away from that belief system.
Hartzler did a wonderful job talking about his childhood and fleshing it out. I mean, the whole book is just about his childhood and teen years, so there's a LOT there. He also does a good job of making these people fully fleshed out when it could be so easy to just focus on the "fire and brimstone" aspect and make them hate-filled and evil with no redeeming values. He talks about the good times and the bad times, showing that these people were just caring for him in the way they thought was right. There's no judgment necessarily in the way Hartzler writes, and that makes the book better. I don't think I could write that balanced.
It hurt me reading about how his parents treated him for doing minor things or for not doing anything at all (like seeing a movie, or buying a music CD). I felt terrible, and I know that people treat their children like this out in the world and it really saddens me. How anyone can treat their child like this is beyond me. How some "Christians" act and interpret the Bible is unbelievable and, in my opinion, is very close to emotional and psychological abuse. That may be taking it a bit too far, but that's how I feel. I don't want to get into a huge rant so I'll just stop here (on this point; the review goes on).
I was a bit disappointed on the lack of gay stuff. In the summary, Hartzler promises kissing and there's barely any! Not until like the very end, and it's not exactly what I was expecting. That was sad for me. I thought the "growing up gay in that environment" aspect would have more of a role in the book, but it wasn't so. Not to say that the book is bad, but it was something I was disappointed about because I was interested mostly in that.
Regardless, Hartzler's book is very worthwhile and I do highly recommend it.
FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.