Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines

My latest read from Revell was Wild in the Hollow by Amber Haines. Here's the book description so you can become acquainted with it,

"Amber Haines is a woman haunted by God. Like Eve in the Garden, she craved the fruit that she thought would lead her to freedom. But the whispers of temptation led her instead down a devastating path toward isolation, dissatisfaction, and life-altering choices. In her most broken moment, Amber met God waiting for her in the fallout, freely offering her grace and life.

This is a story of the God who makes himself known in broken places. In prose that is at once lyrical and utterly honest, a brave new voice takes readers on a windswept journey down the path of brokenness to healing, satisfaction, and true intimacy with God. Amber calls readers to dispense with the pretty bows we use to dress up our stories and instead trust God to take our untidy, unfinished lives and make them free, authentic, and whole. Anyone who struggles with doubt or holds secrets, anyone who feels marginalized or like she is missing something, will find in Amber a sister and an inviting voice back home, into the heart of God."

Isn't it a beautiful book? It is even prettier in person. The book has received some pretty hearty praise from big names life Ann Voskamp and Emily P. Freeman. After reading it, I can see why.

The first part of the story, documenting Amber's rebellion as a teenager, was so familiar to me. It is not my story, but I know a few who are right there in the thick of it. It was such a good reminder to pray for those in my life who haven't "found God on the linoleum floor" yet. Early on she talks about trying to stay under the umbrella of God's grace by "saying prayers and no dirty words, wearing long shorts and vowing never to have sex before marriage (p.17)." I think most kids who grow up in the church can relate to this. Just as it did with Amber, it can often lead to guilt, shame and then turning away from God completely.

If I wrote my memoir, my "rebel" chapter would look a little different. I was pretty much your classic good girl. However that doesn't mean that my heart, my thought-life or even my actions weren't in rebellion to God at times. My life has been just as steeped in sin, just in an easier-to-hide sort. Anyways, I digress, back to the book.

Amber has a lot to say about the Church, sex, marriage and finding your place. Her story is a raw one. I thought it was so real to life how she kept making these tiny breakthroughs, only to be swept away by life's problems again. Finding God is not the end-all to her issues. Naturally, she still battles to belong and struggles with guilt and shame.

Personally, I loved reading about her births and her babies. Her description of life with many young-children is so spot on. That season of her life is right where I am now.

After initially being pretty cynical towards church, I thought her final conclusions were hopeful and practical. I loved the way the book just sort of wound down and ended. There was no fairy-tale, now my life is perfect conclusion. Instead it feels more like the closing of a chapter than the end of Amber's story.

I know her style of writing may not be for everyone-- but if you are initially turned off I would encourage you to finish the book. Her style in the beginning of the book- especially the introduction- is laid on pretty thick. As you read on her style accentuates the story more than it takes away from it.

I received this book from Revell in exchange for me review.

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