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Act Normal: Memoir of a Stumbling Block

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A horrifying and hopeful true story that holds Christian culture accountable for the ways it objectifies, vilifies, and sacrifices its daughters. Eighteen-year-old Kristy has a stalker who sits three pews behind her every Sunday morning. She expects her beloved church family to rally around her, but her fundamentalist church council is dismissive. As her stalker’s erratic beh A horrifying and hopeful true story that holds Christian culture accountable for the ways it objectifies, vilifies, and sacrifices its daughters. Eighteen-year-old Kristy has a stalker who sits three pews behind her every Sunday morning. She expects her beloved church family to rally around her, but her fundamentalist church council is dismissive. As her stalker’s erratic behavior escalates toward a promised Old Testament-style execution, and church members continue to shelter him while promoting purity culture, she must make a choice: submit to the point of being murdered or leave everything behind to build a new life—and faith—from scratch.


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A horrifying and hopeful true story that holds Christian culture accountable for the ways it objectifies, vilifies, and sacrifices its daughters. Eighteen-year-old Kristy has a stalker who sits three pews behind her every Sunday morning. She expects her beloved church family to rally around her, but her fundamentalist church council is dismissive. As her stalker’s erratic beh A horrifying and hopeful true story that holds Christian culture accountable for the ways it objectifies, vilifies, and sacrifices its daughters. Eighteen-year-old Kristy has a stalker who sits three pews behind her every Sunday morning. She expects her beloved church family to rally around her, but her fundamentalist church council is dismissive. As her stalker’s erratic behavior escalates toward a promised Old Testament-style execution, and church members continue to shelter him while promoting purity culture, she must make a choice: submit to the point of being murdered or leave everything behind to build a new life—and faith—from scratch.

30 review for Act Normal: Memoir of a Stumbling Block

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zach Perkins

    I first heard rumblings about Kristy’s book long ago. We have been online friends for quite some time and I knew she had started a blog, which I read on occasion. I had also caught glimpses of her story from things she had posted in our online community, comments she made and her blog. I had been impressed by her writing and wit, but what I think has separated Kristy out (for me) as a writer is her ability to engage the reader in the moment. I’ve even read Facebook posts from her that are nary a I first heard rumblings about Kristy’s book long ago. We have been online friends for quite some time and I knew she had started a blog, which I read on occasion. I had also caught glimpses of her story from things she had posted in our online community, comments she made and her blog. I had been impressed by her writing and wit, but what I think has separated Kristy out (for me) as a writer is her ability to engage the reader in the moment. I’ve even read Facebook posts from her that are nary a paragraph long and yet contain a wealth of information about her children and her life. She just has a fantastic way with words. Kristy’s book has been in the works for awhile and she had been mentioning it to her friends for quite sometime. So, when she finally announced it was being published, I didn’t hesitate to pre-order the book. Having now read the book in it’s entirety, I do not hesitate to say this – this is a timely and important novel. It is one of the most important books I have ever read. Act Normal: Memoir of a Stumbling Block is a biographical account of a woman who had been burdened by the church, terrorized by a fellow parishioner and through years of heartache, regret and fear is able to piece together the fragments of a broken past and find Christ amidst the disappointment and pain the Church had caused her. This is a book for the #metoo and #churchtoo generation. It’s the reality that so many Christians who have grown-up in the Church face, where religion was too often used as a weapon and not enough as a shield. Kristy also uses the book as an opportunity to present some very real questions about pacifism and what challenges it faces in a world filled with people who would use every opportunity to come into a church and like a ravenous wolf, gobble the pacifist flock at will. I decided that being a peacemaker was a Christian’s role and recommitted to pacifism. But this was a new kind of pacifism for me. It didn’t mean standing still while someone repeatedly punched me in the face. That wasn’t what Jesus wanted. We shouldn’t fight violence with violence, but that doesn’t let us off the hook when it comes to fighting it. We just fight it in a different way. It’s the trap so many pacifists fall into. We think we can avoid violence by avoiding conflict and not getting involved. We forget that silence can be a violent act. I once had a flat tire in a dubious neighborhood and a guy insisted he change the tire on my car so I could give him a ride up the road. I felt a bit manipulated because he sort of started without asking and I thought it seemed like the most “Christian” thing to do. I then proceeded to be his chauffeur for about an hour while he asked to “just make one quick stop” about three times. It was a harrowing situation for me, but I didn’t really ever fear for my life. As I was reading Kristy’s account of how she felt in her own home or walking around her college campus, it began to hit me – I have never really had to have the type of alarms around me 24/7 that she had. I live in a fairly rough mid-city neighborhood and I chat up strangers on the sidewalk all the time. My wife barely goes out of the house when I’m not around and often avoids answering the door. You’d think “Well, she’s just being paranoid”, which is what I have often thought, but the more of these personal narratives I read from women, the more I’m convinced there is a deep undercurrent of terror that men may never fully understand. Kristy has managed to do what I think she set out to do and that’s to shake the reader, not through extraordinary experiences, but through experiences that are so ordinary that they seem extraordinary to someone who has never been through these moments or emotions. She manages to channel personal emotions and make them universal so that even a man who has never experienced a drunken date-rape or the fear of a stalker coming into your room at night can empathize with her. It’s unlike anything I have ever read. If you don’t have this book yet, please go buy it. I also say this sincerely – if you are a member of the body of Christ, you should definitely read Act Normal. Yes, there is cussing and yes there is “sex-talk“. It’s not a polished book. It’s honest. But I believe God can use this honest book to spur us on towards recognizing the pain of those around us, identifying the image of Christ in that person and improving how women are heard in our churches.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tanya Marlow

    This is a superb memoir, out early 2018, and I was honoured to write an endorsement for it. This is what I said: “If the church accuses us of lying when we speak the truth, how can we trust the church to tell us the truth about God? “With razor-sharp humour and compelling narrative, Act Normal is the most gripping memoir I’ve read in a long time. I meant to only read one chapter, but hours later I was still hooked, and I ssshed my family until it reached its poignant and inspiring conclusion. “Not This is a superb memoir, out early 2018, and I was honoured to write an endorsement for it. This is what I said: “If the church accuses us of lying when we speak the truth, how can we trust the church to tell us the truth about God? “With razor-sharp humour and compelling narrative, Act Normal is the most gripping memoir I’ve read in a long time. I meant to only read one chapter, but hours later I was still hooked, and I ssshed my family until it reached its poignant and inspiring conclusion. “Not merely a thriller about being stalked, Act Normal raises important questions on the church, feminine sexuality—and most challengingly, how to be a peacemaker in a violent world when it comes at great cost. “Read it immediately: you’ll devour it quickly, but it will stay with you for a long time.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    C.L. Ogilvie

    Family wasn’t blood, they said, it was who showed up when you needed them. Eighteen-year-old Kristy has a stalker who sits three pews behind her every Sunday morning. As her stalker’s erratic behavior escalates toward a promised Old Testament-style execution, and the church members continue to shelter him while promoting purity culture, she must make a choice: submit to the point of being murdered or leave everything behind to build a new life—and faith—from scratch. I was lucky enough to act as a Family wasn’t blood, they said, it was who showed up when you needed them. Eighteen-year-old Kristy has a stalker who sits three pews behind her every Sunday morning. As her stalker’s erratic behavior escalates toward a promised Old Testament-style execution, and the church members continue to shelter him while promoting purity culture, she must make a choice: submit to the point of being murdered or leave everything behind to build a new life—and faith—from scratch. I was lucky enough to act as a beta reader for this author. Full disclosure: I was raised United but stopped attending when I was twelve. I’ve been baptized, but never confirmed. I got to church occasionally, but I’ve been largely removed from the culture. My feelings and views on this memoir are purely from an outsider’s point of view. I was, however, a military spouse for over ten years, a different culture that comes with its own problematic views on women, and have my own experiences dealing with a system easily corrupted in order to stonewall, dismiss and flat-out deny problems or disregard the well-being of its own members. Nobody feels sorry for an angry woman. Burmeister shines a glaring light on the dangerous and frustrating practice of placing the burden of propriety and civility on the victim. It’s the victim’s job to maintain and protect the harmony of the group, rather than demand any accountability from the person causing actual harm. It was absolutely infuriating to read as Burmeister is accused, again and again, by the people she trusted of being the reason for her nightmare: everything from dressing inappropriately to a mother possessed by a demon. Every mistake and “indiscretion” is another brick the church members use to build a wall between them and the truth. Each outburst is waved away as evidence of a vendetta against an “innocent man.” (These scenes were especially difficult to read.) The memoir is told in three parts: the period in which she was stalked, her experiences with PTSD in the aftermath of it, and her journey back to reclaiming her faith. I found the chapters where Burmeister shares her attempts to reconcile her experiences with her faith extremely fascinating to read. Her steps to reclaim it were inspiring and uplifting. I also enjoyed the humor scattered throughout her story. Burmeister has the unique skill of making you laugh without downplaying or detracting from the very real danger or pain she was experiencing. A fascinating, at times humorous, deeply unsettling but ultimately uplifting read I will (and have been) recommending to everyone.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jonny

    Kristy Burmeister has something to teach you. In a phrase, to use one of hers, "Maybe you have to experience suffering to really understand the gospel." Burmeister is right and she has the suffering and the subsequent revelation of God to prove it. Vividly written, without ever being condescendingly self-important, "Act Normal" is an engaging memoir that you might read in a single sitting. The author writes in a palpably real way making one feel like they are a witness to the horror she experienc Kristy Burmeister has something to teach you. In a phrase, to use one of hers, "Maybe you have to experience suffering to really understand the gospel." Burmeister is right and she has the suffering and the subsequent revelation of God to prove it. Vividly written, without ever being condescendingly self-important, "Act Normal" is an engaging memoir that you might read in a single sitting. The author writes in a palpably real way making one feel like they are a witness to the horror she experienced, and the horror that so-called Christians allowed her to experience. You will not be impressed with the actions of the church or the state in this memoir, but by the end of it, you will find hope that faith can prevail through the worst of circumstances. This book serves as an encouragement to those who suffer, especially women, at the hands of an unjust and unsympathetic world and church. It serves as a warning to Christian leaders who fail to act when they can act to prevent injustice, or even just hurt. Not all of your followers will be as strong as the author here. And it convicts us all to be more aware of our hypocrisy, but also real-live issues that face victims of sexual assault and stalking. Burmeister is honest and humble in her story-telling, but her writing is smart and strong enough to catch you in your own prejudicial traps that too often prevent people from demonstrating her vulnerability and her admirable character. Kristy manages to survive horrible circumstances, while thriving after, reinventing her faith without even throwing away her whole past. She demonstrates both justice and reconciliation in her book, paradoxically Christian ideas that are so much easier to pontificate about than they are to enact. Recommended to all; pastors and board members, take note, particularly.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessyca Garcia

    The book “Act Normal: Memoir of a Stumbling Block” by Kristy Burmeister was an eye-opening read. When Kristy begins getting stalked by a member of her church, she turns to the other members in hopes of getting help. You would think that being the pastor’s daughter would help her situation. Instead of helping, they turn their backs on her. The betrayal from her church is what starts Kristy on the path of leading a troubled life. She lives in fear and can not escape the situations she gets herself The book “Act Normal: Memoir of a Stumbling Block” by Kristy Burmeister was an eye-opening read. When Kristy begins getting stalked by a member of her church, she turns to the other members in hopes of getting help. You would think that being the pastor’s daughter would help her situation. Instead of helping, they turn their backs on her. The betrayal from her church is what starts Kristy on the path of leading a troubled life. She lives in fear and can not escape the situations she gets herself into. The book “Act Normal” made me realize what could happen if people keep blaming the victim. Kristy was a good girl. She devoted her life to church and followed the rules that she was supposed to. With no one to really support her she began making the wrong choices in her life. It takes a village to raise a child and this village shunned one for being a victim. The story is not just about the church turning their back on Kristy, it is also about other events that happened in her life that got her to where she is now. I was able to relate to Kristy on some levels because I too have been in similar situations as her. I really liked how Kristy told her story. She uses her sarcastic and unique sense of humor throughout the whole book. I am glad that Kristy was finally able to find some peace in her life. The one thing I wished that was included in this story what happened to the original stalker. I am curious if he stalked other girls too. Overall I really liked this story and think it could help other victims. ~I reviewed this book for Readers' Favorite

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I'm not sure what to make of this book. I read about a third of it last night, but I don't think I'll continue. I am unable to comprehend any of the characters' motivations, or see where they are coming from emotionally/psychologically. In fact most of them are drawn so lightly I have trouble remembering who's who. The whole effect is just... flat. The events are shocking, but I'm not drawn in. It seems like the author is relying on the reader to filter events through the blurbed premise that the I'm not sure what to make of this book. I read about a third of it last night, but I don't think I'll continue. I am unable to comprehend any of the characters' motivations, or see where they are coming from emotionally/psychologically. In fact most of them are drawn so lightly I have trouble remembering who's who. The whole effect is just... flat. The events are shocking, but I'm not drawn in. It seems like the author is relying on the reader to filter events through the blurbed premise that the author was victimized by a congregation of repressive, misogynistic fundamentalists who thought she was guilty of sexually tempting the stalker, but in terms of what's actually recounted on the pages, I'm far from convinced that's the whole story. This could as easily be a story about ignorance and denial of mental illness, or about an insular small town viciously excluding newcomers. It would seem that the relationship between the townsfolk and the author's parents, the pastor and his wife, would be important to understand how they ended up effectively getting chased out. But - at least as far as I read - there's little to no information about that relationship, or what they were even doing there in the first place, really and truly. I mean, there's backstory provided in terms of "we lived in X then moved to Y," but little real info on the family's cultural and social background and how they got from whatever that may have been, to the parsonage of a Mennonite Brethren church. That would probably help me understand what the dynamic in the situation actually was. In particular, if purity culture is supposedly behind what happened, one of my first questions would be the pastor's (her dad) theology on the matter, and how he was interacting with the people who were pushing it. We're told since it was a church plant far from ethnically Mennonite areas, it was more just an average evangelical church. This all takes place about twenty years ago, so courtship and "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" are big. But they were big everywhere throughout evangelical culture at that time, and this is the unique story of a whole town - the cops don't much care, either - looking the other way while a totally crazy wildman type from the woods not only stalks and harasses the daugher, but does stuff like set fires in the rectory. All that really happened because of virginity talks in the youth group? Either there was more going on, or it's not expressed well. There's a tantalizing hint of possible misunderstanding between the family and the town very early on when the dad/pastor unleashes a rant about stupid hillbillies, but nothing like that is picked up again (as far as I read). I strongly suspect the town/congregation just decided - at some point before the stalking started - that they just didn't like these newcomers, and not taking their side against a violent predator is just the opportunistic form that happened to take. The family may have been naive about how great a role the actual religion, or the pastor, actually plays in the type of close-knit, small town church that is as much a social institution as a house of worship; he was a new pastor, and there's no mention of any oversight or collegiality from more experienced leaders, either from their denomination or ecumenically in a region with few Mennonites. It seems likely that he was pissing the locals off without even realizing it for a long time before the stalker started. That could have been about the actual religion - might he have pushed for greater Mennonite distinctiveness than they wanted? But there also might have been something going on with his wife. When they start accusing the author's mom of staging the stalker's crimes - the author just tends to move on to the next event, but hold up! Someone's vandalizing the parsonage the church pays for, and their first impulse is to accuse the pastor's wife of making it up? That's a sign of an already severely damaged relationship. That level of hostility, particularly toward someone in an elevated role like pastor's wife, doesn't crop up overnight. While I don't think they directly put him up to it, the crazy guy's violence may well have been inspired by his community's hostility to this family. Almost certainly more so than by "I Kissed Dating Goodbye," in any case. Whatever was actually going on among all these adults would have made a much more interesting and insightful story than the vague #metoo/anti-purity filter. Of course, as a young teenager she would have had limited knowledge of all that. In general I get the impression that being more or less carried along with her parents' conversion, she just didn't have a lot of cultural or theological context for any of this. I don't doubt that the purity thing loomed large to her subjectively, as she confronted sex, drugs, etc. among various groups of peers at greater or lesser geographical and social distance from the church. And none of this criticism of a book, of course, is to minimize the direct harm she experienced in real life from the stalker. The narrative is somewhat disorganized. I saw at least one review where someone thought this was a stylistic choice, to bring the reader along into the author's sense of disorientation with everything that was happening. I think that's probably too generous, but who knows. I see that many of the positive reviews for this book are from the author's online friends, who already know her story and seem to strongly endorse the official packaging of the book as being about the perils of purity culture. The power of whatever form they originally heard her story in is not in evidence in the book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Billy Kangas

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted a book review. I’ve been very busy reading books for my Ph.D. and simply haven’t had the luxury to read much else over the past year or so. I made an exception, however, for the recently released memoir of Kristy Burmeister. Although she was raised as a Mennonite this year Kristy has joined me in entering the Catholic Church, but what Christy offers in this book is not a conversion story, at least in the traditional sense of the word. Over the past few years, K It’s been a while since I’ve posted a book review. I’ve been very busy reading books for my Ph.D. and simply haven’t had the luxury to read much else over the past year or so. I made an exception, however, for the recently released memoir of Kristy Burmeister. Although she was raised as a Mennonite this year Kristy has joined me in entering the Catholic Church, but what Christy offers in this book is not a conversion story, at least in the traditional sense of the word. Over the past few years, Kristy has been a theological sparring partner online in a few of the forums I frequent. I have always found her opinions to be well thought-out, compassionate, compelling, and rooted in a living faith in a God that she has struggled with. I knew that there was something special about Kristy from my first interactions with her and as she slowly began to share her story, first with a few of us online, and now in this incredible memoir; I learned why. Act Normal: Memoir of a stumbling block documents a period of fear and abuse in the life of Kristy Burmeister when she was a teenager in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This is the story of a faith that endured incredible hardships at the hands of a congregation and a stalker when she was a teenager. It’s a story of faith that we all need to hear but is rarely shared. It’s a story that shares what happens when faith is used as a justification for abuse when faith becomes a weapon wielded to hurt. It tells of a faith used to empower silence in the face of injustice and lies in the name of dogma. This is the story of deconversion, and it’s an incredibly important story to tell. In the era of #metoo and perhaps, more importantly, #churchtoo, this book is arriving at just the right time to be heard in our culture. Unfortunately for Kristy, her abuse and experience were not heard 20 years ago where the book begins. What Kristy is able to accomplish in the book is incredible. She is able to communicate effectively her own mind at the time these things were happening to her. The way she’s able to embody the mind of a teenager within the youth group culture of the 1990s is what really drew me in. This was my life, and my experience too. Kristy was one of my people. She would have been standing with me praying “at the pole,” headed to newsboys concerts, and figuring out how to “kiss dating goodbye” while still having a romantic companion. Her narrative drew me back 20 years to my own high school years. It dug up my old memories. My old joys. My old hurts. It made it all the more real for me when she began to disclose the systemic way that she was pursued by a mentally unstable stalker. This man had been a member of her church. He had been involved the life of their family and helping with church projects in the congregation where Kristy’s own father was the pastor. When the issues started to arise the church look the other way. Some believed this particular man had been cured of his mental illness through prayer. Others found it unchristian to do anything that might exclude another person even if that meant that the young girl within their midst lived in constant fear. Hearing Kristy tell her story broke my heart again and again. I love the church but I’ve seen the ways that the church is broken is it need redemption. What really struck me as Kristy talked about the terror that she experienced was the number of good intentions and theological platitudes that were used as weapons so that the church members wouldn’t have to deal with the uncomfortable truth: one of their members was abusing another. Life is often messy. People have problems, and giving your life to Jesus doesn’t make everything ok. The church is not a safe haven from the violence abuse and hurt of the outside world. Sometimes it can be a safe haven for the abusers. This happens when “forgiveness” is used to perpetuate abuse, “prayer” is used to avoid intervention and when “acceptance” for some forces eviction on others. This book challenged me to evaluate my own history within the church. Am I guilty? Have there been times when I have allowed wounds to go unhealed and violence to continue against the vulnerable because to do otherwise would make things theologically complicated? If I’m truthful, I know the answer is yes. I can remember the fear in the eyes of those who have finally worked up the courage to come out to me or those who have come to tell me they have left the faith worried they would lose my friendship. I pray that those I have hurt can forgive my failings as Kristy is finally able to begin to do in her book. Healing and forgiveness is a long and complicated journey and I for one am deeply grateful for being allowed to walk with Kristy as she explores her own road in this book. Please pick up a copy. The church ignored Kristy nearly 20 years ago, but we don’t have to today. There are countless others suffering at the hands of their church today, I pray this book will help create a space for them to share too. Hopefully they can hear: you don’t need to act normal, you are not alone.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gabriela

    "How could someone as big as God understand how I felt? He could understand because he'd made himself small. If anyone knows what it's like to be betrayed by the people you love and endure pain and humiliation at their hands, it's God." The writing in this book was at times confusing and redundant, the middle parts were a bit repetitive, but I feel the important thing here is the story. It's an honest, candid testimony of what a teenage girl and her family had to go through at the hands of a sta "How could someone as big as God understand how I felt? He could understand because he'd made himself small. If anyone knows what it's like to be betrayed by the people you love and endure pain and humiliation at their hands, it's God." The writing in this book was at times confusing and redundant, the middle parts were a bit repetitive, but I feel the important thing here is the story. It's an honest, candid testimony of what a teenage girl and her family had to go through at the hands of a stalker who was no stranger but a fellow brother in their congregation, and how their church, blinded and assured in their fundamentalist beliefs, turned it's back on Kristy and her family and chose the stalker over them. I've heard it many times, and experienced it myself, how sometimes Christians believe that pain, adversity and even illness are a direct product of a hidden, terrible sin or a lack of "true faith" or even defective prayer. This believe alienates the sick and the broken and in many cases, like Kristy's, drives them away from the church and from God. As a Christian, I sometimes find myself fulI of pain and doubt when I see things like this happen inside our church. I feel it's wrong, I see the painful consequences, but it seems there's an entire system pushing against you. It's "Us vs. you, and we are right and you are wrong." However, thanks to stories like this and the people who are brave enough to open up, I do know for sure that it is not right when toxic, fundamentalist christian culture prevails over the most important commandment in the Bible: love one another.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    In some ways, this book feels like sitting down with a friend as they go through a box of photos. With each photo is a memory, a part of the larger story. Most of them are in sequence, some have gotten out of order, but those present welcome detours that flesh out the story at appropriate points. I describe the experience such because it touches on so many of the things that make this book easy to read: in many ways, it's familiar, as if the author is an old friend. In addition, Kristy writes in In some ways, this book feels like sitting down with a friend as they go through a box of photos. With each photo is a memory, a part of the larger story. Most of them are in sequence, some have gotten out of order, but those present welcome detours that flesh out the story at appropriate points. I describe the experience such because it touches on so many of the things that make this book easy to read: in many ways, it's familiar, as if the author is an old friend. In addition, Kristy writes in a way that brings you into the scene. We are seeing the world through her eyes. In other ways, this book is also hard to read. And I don't just mean because of the stalker. What is far more disturbing than the stalker, himself, is the reactions around it, the attitudes and beliefs and ideas that enable the stalker, whether he's a dirty old man or another young adult at college. It's the small things, the things a good churchgoer might not even recognize as sin, but which contribute to throwing others to the wolves. Recently, Rachael Denhollander, an American Olympic gymnast who first brought Larry Nassar's abuse of herself and many other girls to light, spoke about how her church had turned against her in this fight. Indeed, I'm sure they had their reasons, too. This book helps to raise the same question as Denhollander's story: how can the Church better care for girls and women in these situations? How can *we*, each one of us, help? Ultimately, this is a book that will sit with you. While wonderfully written, it's not comfortable; however, it is a story that we need to hear.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dee Ortmann Patterson

    I read this book in 24 hours during my wife's surgery and recovery at home. That's how good and well written it was. The author, Kristy Burmeister, was brutally honest, even when it meant she looked like shit. HEAR ME OUT! Memoirs are my favorite genre of book. I adore and sink into books that share and bear their soul about everything, not just the things that make them look good. Kristy lets you know she is human from the start. She allows you to watch her evolve from the trauma of being stal I read this book in 24 hours during my wife's surgery and recovery at home. That's how good and well written it was. The author, Kristy Burmeister, was brutally honest, even when it meant she looked like shit. HEAR ME OUT! Memoirs are my favorite genre of book. I adore and sink into books that share and bear their soul about everything, not just the things that make them look good. Kristy lets you know she is human from the start. She allows you to watch her evolve from the trauma of being stalked and terrorized. She allows you to follow her pain as she slowly backs away from the church that let her down. I could identify with her thoughts and feelings of abandonment and betrayal from people she thought loved and cared about her. The part that hit me square in the chest was when JR came into the picture. The feelings and heartache of "why is this happening again?" and "what is about me that makes this happen to me?" was so familiar it broke me down. I also want to mention that I'm grateful Janaye came into the picture and mentioned PTSD. By validating Kristy's feelings and concerns she helped her come to realize that there are lasting effects from trauma that need to be dealt with and worked through. Great book through and through.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brian K Thibodeaux

    A painful, but honest look at what shapes her life. The raw honesty with which Kristy shares her story is refreshing as well as uncomfortable at times. She never tries to alter the facts to make herself look good...if anything, she sometimes is too hard on herself. Ultimately, the story she shares is an uplifting journey which results in a renewing of her faith. She may actually have inspired me to try to explore some forgiveness and find my way back to that communal space that I miss from my ch A painful, but honest look at what shapes her life. The raw honesty with which Kristy shares her story is refreshing as well as uncomfortable at times. She never tries to alter the facts to make herself look good...if anything, she sometimes is too hard on herself. Ultimately, the story she shares is an uplifting journey which results in a renewing of her faith. She may actually have inspired me to try to explore some forgiveness and find my way back to that communal space that I miss from my childhood.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rosalie

    This memoir gave me a fascinating glimpse into the world of a fairly isolated, rural, fundamentalist church community. The author's choice of a seemingly simple and straightforward prose style is very effective for evoking the mindset of a teenager growing up, and in fact thriving, in this very sheltered environment. And the story she tells is sadly relevant to women of all backgrounds: a grown man who fixates on a teenage girl, wages a campaign of harassment against her, and faces no repercussi This memoir gave me a fascinating glimpse into the world of a fairly isolated, rural, fundamentalist church community. The author's choice of a seemingly simple and straightforward prose style is very effective for evoking the mindset of a teenager growing up, and in fact thriving, in this very sheltered environment. And the story she tells is sadly relevant to women of all backgrounds: a grown man who fixates on a teenage girl, wages a campaign of harassment against her, and faces no repercussions, while the girl's life is completely derailed. An engaging and thought-provoking work.

  13. 5 out of 5

    C

    A scary true story in a Christian prose about a woman who interests a man name Ray who ends up stalking her. He breaks into her room, he takes her underwear, he leaves messages. The church stuck behind Ray which made Kristy and her family flee in the night. Very good book with Christian theme and how even in church no one is safe. Cherie' A scary true story in a Christian prose about a woman who interests a man name Ray who ends up stalking her. He breaks into her room, he takes her underwear, he leaves messages. The church stuck behind Ray which made Kristy and her family flee in the night. Very good book with Christian theme and how even in church no one is safe. Cherie'

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chara

    Very good Beautifully and honestly written. The struggles are both familiar and somehow clearer in her voice. There's a lot to unpack in this book. Very good Beautifully and honestly written. The struggles are both familiar and somehow clearer in her voice. There's a lot to unpack in this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adrian

    This is an incredible book, definitely worth your time. Kristy’s story is very accurate, honest, vulnerable, and filled with the encounters she has with the struggle to understand truth and meet God inside a broken journey. Sometimes horrible things happen to innocent people or evil things happen because we live in a broken world. Kristy was resourceful enough to keep seeking ways to survive and save herself until she could see God still reaching out for her. Sometimes bravery is just not giving This is an incredible book, definitely worth your time. Kristy’s story is very accurate, honest, vulnerable, and filled with the encounters she has with the struggle to understand truth and meet God inside a broken journey. Sometimes horrible things happen to innocent people or evil things happen because we live in a broken world. Kristy was resourceful enough to keep seeking ways to survive and save herself until she could see God still reaching out for her. Sometimes bravery is just not giving up. This is a really good book, I advise you to give it a chance.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hansen

    Well written, about an important topic A good book for anyone who's been hurt by the church, a story of coping with trauma and betrayal, and finding your way out the other side, more or less. I enjoyed the writing style and the author's ability to express what happened to her clearly and emotionally. The book definitely focused less on her relationship with God and more on her relationship with the Christian community after her traumatic experience. Well written, about an important topic A good book for anyone who's been hurt by the church, a story of coping with trauma and betrayal, and finding your way out the other side, more or less. I enjoyed the writing style and the author's ability to express what happened to her clearly and emotionally. The book definitely focused less on her relationship with God and more on her relationship with the Christian community after her traumatic experience.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Chowdhury

    I breezed through this book. I was shocked but at the same time not as shocked about what happened to this family. As a Christian I wanted to see justice, healing, and redemption for Kristy so badly. I can’t imagine what she went through at such a young age. I’m glad she discovered the grace of God and learned that it wasn’t her fault.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nore

    Unfortunately, I DNF'd at about 40% in. This could have been much, much shorter for what it is, as she repeats herself a lot and includes a lot of tangents, and the writing wasn't particularly compelling. Still, I'm extremely sorry to hear what happened to Burmeister - this isn't an experience any young woman should have. Unfortunately, I DNF'd at about 40% in. This could have been much, much shorter for what it is, as she repeats herself a lot and includes a lot of tangents, and the writing wasn't particularly compelling. Still, I'm extremely sorry to hear what happened to Burmeister - this isn't an experience any young woman should have.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    The author has a wonderfully distinctive voice, and the pages just flew. But this is a sad read for lots of reasons. The main reason is how little she was protected. I'm going to be thinking about this for a while. The author has a wonderfully distinctive voice, and the pages just flew. But this is a sad read for lots of reasons. The main reason is how little she was protected. I'm going to be thinking about this for a while.

  20. 5 out of 5

    RhiaRose

    This book is well written and engaging. Totally recommend for anyone who has been hurt by the church and had it change their life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mariah Piechowski

    Although I was raised Catholic instead of Mennonite, Kristy’s book hit home for me.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Kern

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rosa

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kalyn Waller

  26. 5 out of 5

    BETTY SEARCY

  27. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Serratore

  28. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Parsons

  29. 5 out of 5

    Diane Wenrich

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

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