Life in Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice (2010) by Kristen Jane Anderson, with Tricia Goyer, is a fascinating and hard to put down read. Kristen was an ordinary, happy girl until she hit her teenage years. A combination of tragedies, such as a friend’s suicide, acquaintance rape, and a family history of major depression, drives Kristen to try to take her own life. Hopelessness, however, slowly turns to hope due to her miraculous survival. Somehow the young woman is run over by a train and lives to tell the tale, her legs severed but otherwise her body intact. At first Kristen still wants to die, but people keep telling her that God spared her life for a reason. Kristen turns from a lukewarm believer in God to a Christian, and dedicates her life to helping other people through God.
The young woman’s story could possibly save lives and shows that everyone is put on Earth for a reason. The book isn’t overly preachy, and Kristen doesn’t consign all suicide victims to hellfire, which is commendable in itself. One might take umbrage, as the author of this review does, with a section in the book where her new preacher tells Kristen that she would not have gone to hell for killing herself, BUT she would have gone to hell for not being a Christian. We’re talking about a 17 year-old girl here, not quite an adult, and Jesus would have sent her to eternal damnation? One also might find that replacing her un-Christian friends completely, as she appears to have done, sort of wrong considering some some of her friends were loyal after her attempt on her life. This isn’t to say she should have continued with their ways, mind. Perhaps she didn’t abandon her friends, but it just wasn’t covered in the memoir? The criticisms though are only a minor sideline in the book in an otherwise excellent story of redemption.
Kristen’s story is told in simple, flowing prose appropriate for both teens and adults. The author doesn’t gloss over the events leading up to the suicide attempt, but she isn’t horrifyingly graphic about what she endured to the point of wanting to slam the book shut. One, however, feels her pain as she relates her feelings before and after her suicide attempt.
This book deserves four out of five stars and is ideal for those touched by depression or suicide, or those looking for a reason to live.
Disclaimer: The author of this review received this book in exchange for a review with no other compensation. Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group’s “Blogging for Books” program is at http://bloggingforbooks.org Got a blog? Get in the program. Free books!
Fun added bonus part exclusive to my blog: To my regulars and whoever: Would y’all read this? If you would or wouldn’t, is it in part due to my review? Do y’all like my style of reviewing this, and if not, what’s wrong with you? Lastly, would you think it fair for a 17 year-old to be thrown into hell just because she failed to be a member of the exclusive Club Christian? Does calling Christianity a club make me a bad Christian? Discuss!
- Book Review – “Life in Spite of Me” (estherlou.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: “Life, In Spite of Me” (Kristen Jane Anderson) (growup318.com)
OK, so this was my therapist’s assignment to me a few weeks ago when I was feeling particularly bad. It was written out in the original and transcribed here almost exactly as it appeared before my therapist. She likes how I write, even though I pay her my 3.00 co-pay with Medicaid for her to like it. I think she sincerely likes me, because she wasn’t going to take anymore Medicaid patients, but she recognized my name. Bless her, she’s trying her best to make me up my self-esteem. For almost my entire life I’ve believed I would never amount to shit, so she’s working on fixing it. I have got a lot of boost me upping from writing and the kind reception it receives from y’all, my dear friends.
My therapist listened to me read a bunch of my junk and she laughed a lot, which made me feel very nice. I read to her the stuff that got published on other sites and a tiny bit from my memoir. She found this amusing too when I read it to her. Hopefully you will too.
Yes, ahem, my attributes. Picture this delightful scene: My therapist’s office two weeks ago. A moderately depressed patient complaining of how her life has no meaning and she will never have someone love her back. You know, crap like that.
How original. Wonder how many others told her that today? How many others hold this sort of thing in a bubble until pop, “I’ll unburden my sorrows on my therapist.”
It isn’t always that way with me, though something does indeed pop, and my mouth starts spewing chunks of trivialities so fast it isn’t even funny. Chattering like a chipmunk. Why? Maybe because I feel comfortable with her since I knew her since I was a callow youth, or maybe because she compliments me and thinks I’m funny. Maybe, though, it also helps to know she had renumeration in some kind for listening to me talk about my trivial life and phrase things in my just ever so witty and charming way. Once I gave her a dissertation on the contrasts of regular orange Vitamin Water and orange Vitamin Water Zero, how both versions have a deliciously different taste…when I suddenly stopped and said, “Wow, talk about talking about trivial stuff!”
My therapist, however, doesn’t object me saying what I want to say. Maybe, because I’m anxious with people in general, she believes letting me air out my lungs will help me become a brilliant conversationalist, or maybe adequate. I believe her method is that she asks me questions and I talk, so that when I talk, the things that bother me will ooze out, then we hit that around for a bit. She isn’t aggressive and I truly appreciate it. Before I came to my current therapist, another one got me for one session. This other woman tried to plunge a scalpel inside me, dig around in my innards for trauma, and take an inventory of everything wrong with me on the side. Just way too much for me to swallow, way too much.
My therapist is aware of how hypersensitive I am for one thing and that my self-esteem is pretty low. Listening to the day’s diatribe of all that I lack, she suggests that I make a list of all I have that I can build upon in my life, my attributes. Mom says I shouldn’t be modest about it, tell it like it is. It seems to me a vain thing to acknowledge anything that I do could be good enough, but whatever.
1.) I am fairly well read. I love books and have since I was a tiny child being read to by my mother. Fun random flashback: The Three Little Kittens was one of my favorites all the way back to age 4, and as I had difficulty hunting me down a pumpkin pie today at the store, a part of that story came to my mind. “What?! Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens! Then you shall have no pie.” (or it went something like that).
But back to books. I’ll read just about anything from modern day grocery store literature to the classics. I also love reading out-of-print books from the 1800s and beyond, the oldest one I got hold of was called Sermons on Several Subjects from 1747. Reading the tiny type with its bizarre “s’s” that looked like “f’s” and how convention had it that the first word of the next page at the bottom of each preceding page made for fun reading indeed. My only guess at why they did that was in case you skipped a page when reading or cutting the pages. But I digress as always.
Yes, yes books. I love books. I even love smelling books, from newly pressed paper to very old paper, if no one is looking, I’ll stick my nose up close and get a good whiff. I wonder if I ever got pregnant would I
start munching on books like a human silverfish?
Not only do I read what I read, overall my ability to comprehend whatever it is new, old, or indifferent is better than average. Looking back to my early CAT tests, it seems I was always lucky that way. I just want to say thanks to my mom for reading to me The Three Little Kittens, Richard Scarry, and Felix the Cat. I also want to say thanks to that hateful teacher who taught me to read using phonics. Bitch, you may have hated me and thought I was stupid, but at least your crazy ass taught me to read well, thanks tons! Now if all this matters in the real world I’ll leave it up to you.
2.) I have a pretty decent vocabulary in two different languages. Reading Spanish is pretty easy…Speaking Spanish, um no. Rico suave. I’m good at English, anyway, though I try not to drag it out to people who don’t have as good a vocabulary, which, no offense, includes almost everyone in my apartment complex. Vocabulary doesn’t necessarily mean one is bright, so much as that they are educated fools.
3.) This thing I do, the writing, I’m better than a lot of people. Not nearly as good as many, many people, but better than average. Too bad my mind is too hyper and only lets me do it in tiny increments. If I could just tidy my writing style a bit I could write something worthy of printing (it wouldn’t hurt to actually have an idea to write about!).
4.) I have a sense of humor which has served me somewhat well. It sort of just sort of happens, and I never know if people will find what I write funny, but it often works. I worry about one day finding I have nothing funny to write. What if I run out of anything to write? I write as though I will be dead serious at first, then something happens and the funny comes. Go figure. Free the creativity!
The first time I remember writing a story down that made people laugh I was in second grade, and it was a wonderful feeling, just the best. I remember the gist of the story, a talking baby being interviewed by a reporter right after her was born. Comedy gold! Too bad I don’t still have it somewhere. What’s the point of being a sort-of-hoarder if you can’t hang on to obscure childhood papers?
5.) I am almost overly mannerly, barring a few bad habits.
6.) I aim not to hurt or slight someone. In a way this is good, but lots of times it’s bad because almost everyday I’m worried that someone is cross and about to stop being my friend or that I’ve unintentionally upset somebody.
7.) I like people, but like being left to entertain myself too. I’ve been that way since I was a small child. I had a gigantic imagination that invented stories and characters that I could imagine myself a part of and play alone for hours. I enjoyed playing with other children, mind you, but being different, this kept me from being lonely when no one would play. I like people now too, and I often get considerably lonely, but if I ever struck out on my own or had a beloved that reciprocated in kind, I don’t think I’d want to set up housekeeping straight away. Being quirky makes one only too happy to be left to your own devices.
8.) I’m told I still have a youthful enthusiasm that most people lose. This could be good I suppose and bad too. My voice makes people think I’m “slow.” Yes, someone even told me sometime that some people think so (mind you, he was on hard drugs, but that’s beside the point).
9.) My tastes are various. Case in point: I love subtitled foreign films, but I love a stupid comedy too. The problem with being kinda well-rounded is you don’t really fit in anywhere.
10.) I’m perfectly content to be friends with people much older than me.
11.) If someone is being hurt I will come to that person’s defense, not my own defense, but Charleston wasn’t built in a day.
12.) I’m all kind and charitable and junk. I almost always give whatever is asked of me. Saintly sucker!
I reckon that’s a wrap.
P.S., If you don’t like this font please let me know. I’m trying out ScribeFire, and I heart me some comic sans MS, but if it’s hard to read I will do something else.
As the title suggests, I can’t say no even when I would very much like to say hell no. I am sitting at the library, minding my own business, when a woman approaches me. She is short, skinny, wears a long skirt, has a scarf on her head, has a look between a fundamentalist Christian and a hippie, and just generally has that look of a poor soul.
“Excuse me, do you have a library card?” she asks. It doesn’t occur to me to lie to her as I warily say yes. “Can I use it to get on the computer and finish a letter I was writing?”
“Well yes sure,” I answer, scanning the room for my mom in hope of her guidance.
I envision all the illegal things she could do with my account.
What if she’s a predator and I get blamed for it?
What if she’s committing credit card fraud and I get blamed for it?
What if she’s a hacker and I get blamed for it?
What if she’s threatening people and I get blamed for it?
What if she’s about to take over the world and I get blamed for it?
What if my head explodes from worry?
But I hate to offend others or not help them, especially when asked. Later she comes back and I have to use my card again to print out her work. I really want to cop a look as it prints, but I am mindful that that would be rude, so I will never know. I think I stole 35 cents from her, though, which is now on my library card (and conscience) because she inserted a dollar in there and I think her copies only cost 65 cents. I guess the only ethical thing to do is hope I see her again sometime when I have change. Boy, I annoy the shit out of myself. Lucky most of this sort of stuff I can hide in my head. It isn’t even that I fear punishment for short-changing someone, it’s just that nervy feeling that I’ve done someone or something wrong.
I think since I’m writing about library cards and offending people I will tell two incidents from when I was back in college earning the Fries-with-That degree. Now Downtown, where the community college is, is Homeless Central and the bum population all knew I was good for a dollar or two (I just sorta look like the kind of person who will not tell someone to get a job or to f off). I always was of the mind you shouldn’t be mean to them, that most of them are mentally ill, what if no one would help you out, and that if they ask for it? It would be unkind to say no even if all they were going to do is get drunk or weren’t even homeless. Yes, I am a sucker.
Anyway, a man I hadn’t seen before approached me, said he just got out of jail, and talked me out of a couple of dollars. He wanted me to shake his hand. No problem except his hand had many cuts, not scratches, big ass open wounds. Blood of the human variety is perfectly horrifying to me and hurting someone’s feelings is perfectly horrifying to me, so I was totally at a loss. Quick decision made and fast as lightning I tap the tip of my fingers at the part of his palm that seemed the least bloody for one second tops, but was certain I had HIV for the next few years. Being an avoidant sort more than a hypochondriac, in I worry I have a dread disease but really, really don’t want to know for fear I couldn’t take the news. My best friend, however, says if I had anything, it would have showed up several years later in my blood cell count the last time I consented to a general blood test 4 years ago (I have only been to gynecologists twice in my life….the first time I screamed, the second time I was only silently horrified….I will go again if I ever become sexually active and the way that is going I’ll probably be 50).
As for library cards, there was the time I nearly didn’t graduate due to my college library card. It was 2003. Time for math, time for math. I think I was about 26, old enough to know better. Seriously, when God handed out common sense, yours truly was absent. My therapist is kinder. She says I have common sense, I’m just naïve. Truth told, I’m a naïve dumbass, albeit a well-meaning naïve dumbass.
I was in the school library and as I was about to check out, a girl I didn’t know approached me. She didn’t have a library card, had a paper due the very next day, and begged me to check out a book for her.
It only gets worse from here. Dumbass.
I told her sure with only the slightest apprehension. She said she could show me her driver’s license.
Now what did I say? It’s pure Dumbassian. Someone please cut down these trees so I can get a good view of the forest dumb.
“Oh, don’t worry about it. I trust you.” I imagine this is where that girl probably heard the rattling inside my head, pretty hollow in there. Did I tell you I was a DUMBASS? I will reiterate it now, lest you forget:
So the weeks rolled by and I got a letter from the school library. It would seem that girl hadn’t returned the life-or-death-necessary book and with fines I owed my institution of higher learning $50.00 I sure as hell didn’t have. I had to pay up or they wouldn’t graduate me. Fuck an A!
May this be a lesson to you, Lisa Ann B. Just because you wouldn’t do something like that doesn’t mean everyone wouldn’t do it. Noted.
A few months went by and my brain filed the incident under “experience,” the 50 bucks and diploma under “Things to Do When I Can Afford It,” and the state of my intellectual prowess under “Dumbass.” I went and got the mail, and voilà, there’s my diploma. Apparently the girl brought the book back a few months late and either paid the overdues or my favorite professor got them to forgive the fines because he had tried before to get me forgiven altogether. Perhaps I am the first person to graduate college and not even know it. Life is funny that way.