Reviews for Where the light fell : a memoir

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

“A memoir,” best-selling Christian author Yancey writes, “is a kind of verbal selfie with one figure in the foreground.” In his case, there are two prominent figures in the background: his older brother and his deeply troubled mother, who, when the boys were barely more than infants dedicated them both to God, as the Old Testament figure Hannah did with her son, Samuel. As a result, the boys were raised poor in Georgia as extreme Southern Fundamentalists, “an upbringing under a wrathful God,” Yancey states. There was no escaping their church; indeed, their trailer home sat on its parking lot, where the two boys would spend their formative years. Yancey writes affectingly in this spiritual memoir of those years and the boys’ own troubled lives and sometimes ambiguous feelings about religion. Interestingly, their identical upbringing left older brother Marshall an atheist and Yancey the religious author of some two dozen books. Suffering and grace informed all those books, Yancey concludes. Both are abundantly present in this graceful, illuminating memoir, a gift to his readers.


Publishers Weekly
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Christian writer Yancey (What’s So Amazing About Grace?) excavates his roots in the fundamentalist South in the 1950s and ’60s in this gripping memoir. Yancey was a year old when his preacher father died of polio after asking to be removed from treatment, expecting faith would heal him. Left alone with two toddlers, Yancey’s mother made her way as a Bible teacher who was well-regarded by her students but increasingly feared by her two young sons for her temper and her punishments. As Yancey entered his teens he saw himself as “born and bred a racist” and began to slowly unlearn the “Lost Cause myth” while questioning his fundamentalist church community: “A growing part of me resists the image of a red-neck fundamentalist.” During the social and political tumult of the ’60s, Yancey’s older brother, Marshall, became a hippie and was estranged from their mother, forcing Yancey to confront his growing inner turmoil. He goes on to describe a religious awakening at Bible college, where he also met the woman who would become his wife. Yancey’s eloquent descriptions of coming to faith and his exacting self-examination make this a standout. Exploring the corrosive role of fear in faith, Yancey’s piercing and painful account invites comparison to Hillbilly Elegy. (Oct.)


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The education of a Southern Christian. Yancey, who was raised as a fundamentalist, has written about his faith in more than two dozen books. Although he drew on personal experiences for those books, this is his first true memoir, a reflection on family, spirituality, education, and racism. After his father died of polio when he was 1, Yancey and his older brother grew up in Georgia within what he now calls a culture of “white-racist-paranoid-fundamentalism.” His mother taught Bible classes, and his home looked like “a Christian gift shop,” with plaques and wall calendars featuring Bible verses and Voice of Prophecy in the magazine rack. For most of his childhood, his family lived in a trailer, “a perfect symbol of my world at home and church: narrow, rectangular, cloistered, metallic.” Church services on Sunday mornings and evenings, Wednesday prayer meetings, vacation Bible school: The church dominated his life, instructing him “what to believe, who to trust and distrust, and how to behave.” Also ubiquitous was prejudice. “As a true son of the South,” he admits, he was “born and bred a racist.” As the civil rights movement erupted, Yancey, like his neighbors, feared integration. In Atlanta, he ate at a restaurant where Black waitresses, dressed as plantation slaves, sang gospel songs to the diners; boys in slave costumes displayed the menu “on sign boards hung around their necks.” Throughout his adolescence, the author believed in the “myth of the Lost Cause” and the heroism of the Confederacy. Yancey chronicles his mother’s wrath and rages; his brilliant brother’s descent into mental illness; his own refuge in school and books; and his struggle to define and embrace his faith. “In the end,” he writes, “my resurrection of belief had little to do with logic or effort and everything to do with the unfathomable mystery of God." A forthright recounting of a rocky journey to self-knowledge. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

“A memoir,” best-selling Christian author Yancey writes, “is a kind of verbal selfie with one figure in the foreground.” In his case, there are two prominent figures in the background: his older brother and his deeply troubled mother, who, when the boys were barely more than infants dedicated them both to God, as the Old Testament figure Hannah did with her son, Samuel. As a result, the boys were raised poor in Georgia as extreme Southern Fundamentalists, “an upbringing under a wrathful God,” Yancey states. There was no escaping their church; indeed, their trailer home sat on its parking lot, where the two boys would spend their formative years. Yancey writes affectingly in this spiritual memoir of those years and the boys’ own troubled lives and sometimes ambiguous feelings about religion. Interestingly, their identical upbringing left older brother Marshall an atheist and Yancey the religious author of some two dozen books. Suffering and grace informed all those books, Yancey concludes. Both are abundantly present in this graceful, illuminating memoir, a gift to his readers.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

The education of a Southern Christian. Yancey, who was raised as a fundamentalist, has written about his faith in more than two dozen books. Although he drew on personal experiences for those books, this is his first true memoir, a reflection on family, spirituality, education, and racism. After his father died of polio when he was 1, Yancey and his older brother grew up in Georgia within what he now calls a culture of white-racist-paranoid-fundamentalism. His mother taught Bible classes, and his home looked like a Christian gift shop, with plaques and wall calendars featuring Bible verses and Voice of Prophecyin the magazine rack. For most of his childhood, his family lived in a trailer, a perfect symbol of my world at home and church: narrow, rectangular, cloistered, metallic. Church services on Sunday mornings and evenings, Wednesday prayer meetings, vacation Bible school: The church dominated his life, instructing him what to believe, who to trust and distrust, and how to behave. Also ubiquitous was prejudice. As a true son of the South, he admits, he was born and bred a racist. As the civil rights movement erupted, Yancey, like his neighbors, feared integration. In Atlanta, he ate at a restaurant where Black waitresses, dressed as plantation slaves, sang gospel songs to the diners; boys in slave costumes displayed the menu on sign boards hung around their necks. Throughout his adolescence, the author believed in the myth of the Lost Cause and the heroism of the Confederacy. Yancey chronicles his mothers wrath and rages; his brilliant brothers descent into mental illness; his own refuge in school and books; and his struggle to define and embrace his faith. In the end, he writes, my resurrection of belief had little to do with logic or effort and everything to do with the unfathomable mystery of God." A forthright recounting of a rocky journey to self-knowledge. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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