Friday, July 8, 2011

Life, In Spite Of Me (book review)

Kristen Anderson was 17 years old on the night she laid across a railroad track and waited to die. Over 30 cars passed over her but when she opened her eyes and looked to the right she saw laying there were her legs with the new white tennis shoes still on them. Both legs had been severed off completely.

This book was gripping. I admit, I didn’t have enough points to get the fiction book I really wanted so I chose this one as a “meh” sort of option. Boy was I in for a surprise.

Kristin had struggled with depression for months leading up to that night. That year she had dealt with the suicide of a friend and being raped at a party by a guy she thought liked her. She saw a counselor after the suicide and a psychiatrist when her grades started failing and her parents saw her picking up habits like drinking and smoking. The psychiatrist handed her an antidepressant medication and sent her on her way.

After time, Kristen’s depression and feelings of worthlessness led her to a park late at night where she looked at a line of train tracks and decided to let go of it all, thinking Heaven would be a better option than what she had.

When her suicide attempt failed, Kristen began her journey toward God and healing. This book takes you through what led up to her choice and how she moved past that night.

Two things stood out to me as I read Kristen’s story. The first scared me, this was a girl who came from a good home, had parents that loved her and grew up in the church. Simply put, she could have been me.

The next thing that hit me was the grace of God is shown in a million different ways. Kristen didn’t remember for years that she lost her legs because she attempted suicide. She didn’t remember the details of that night although she was told by doctors that was the reason she laid on the train track. She just couldn’t understand why she would do that and according to her, she couldn’t handle knowing that she tried to commit suicide. God placed protection over her by not letting her remember. While she struggled to rebuild a life without legs, deal with her depression and find true salvation, that memory was not a burden God left her to handle.

Over time, she did remember the details and she uses her story today to impact other teens struggling with suicidal thoughts. Her ministry website can be found here Reaching You

I would recommend this book to parents of teenagers and also to youth ministries at church. Kristen grew up in church; she knew the basics but never truly understood that salvation wasn’t about church but about Jesus. She didn’t have the hope of Christ to let her see past the depression and I wonder how many youth are in the same spot. They sing the songs, eat the cookies and drink the Kool-Aid but never really get it. It’s up to us to change that.

Hand this book to a teen you know or encourage your youth minister to start a book club using this as the kickoff to open the door to conversations about depression, suicide and how to overcome both through Christ’s powerful mercy and grace.

I received this book free from the Blogging For Books program by Waterbrook Multanomah. I wasn't coerced or bribed into giving positive reviews, just to give my honest opinion (this is a disclaimer for all you pessimists out there lol )

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