Hot Best Seller

Where the Light Fell

Availability: Ready to download

In this searing meditation on the bonds of family and the allure of extremist faith, one of today's most celebrated Christian writers recounts his unexpected journey from a strict fundamentalist upbringing to a life of compassion and grace--a revelatory memoir in the tradition of Educated and Hillbilly Elegy. Raised by an impoverished widow who earned room and board as a Bi In this searing meditation on the bonds of family and the allure of extremist faith, one of today's most celebrated Christian writers recounts his unexpected journey from a strict fundamentalist upbringing to a life of compassion and grace--a revelatory memoir in the tradition of Educated and Hillbilly Elegy. Raised by an impoverished widow who earned room and board as a Bible teacher in 1950s Atlanta, Philip Yancey and his brother, Marshall, found ways to venture out beyond the confines of their eight-foot-wide trailer. But when Yancey was in college, he uncovered a shocking secret about his father's death--a secret that began to illuminate the motivations that drove his mother to extreme, often hostile religious convictions and a belief that her sons had been ordained for a divine cause. Searching for answers, Yancey dives into his family origins, taking us on an evocative journey from the backwoods of the Bible Belt to the bustling streets of Philadelphia; from trailer parks to church sanctuaries; from family oddballs to fire-and-brimstone preachers and childhood awakenings through nature, music, and literature. In time, the weight of religious and family pressure sent both sons on opposite paths--one toward healing from the impact of what he calls a "toxic faith," the other into a self-destructive spiral. Where the Light Fell is a gripping family narrative set against a turbulent time in post-World War II America, shaped by the collision of Southern fundamentalism with the mounting pressures of the civil rights movement and Sixties-era forces of social change. In piecing together his fragmented personal history and his search for redemption, Yancey gives testament to the enduring power of our hunger for truth and the possibility of faith rooted in grace instead of fear. "I truly believe this is the one book I was put on earth to write," says Yancey. "So many of the strands from my childhood—racial hostility, political division, culture wars—have resurfaced in modern form. Looking back points me forward."


Compare

In this searing meditation on the bonds of family and the allure of extremist faith, one of today's most celebrated Christian writers recounts his unexpected journey from a strict fundamentalist upbringing to a life of compassion and grace--a revelatory memoir in the tradition of Educated and Hillbilly Elegy. Raised by an impoverished widow who earned room and board as a Bi In this searing meditation on the bonds of family and the allure of extremist faith, one of today's most celebrated Christian writers recounts his unexpected journey from a strict fundamentalist upbringing to a life of compassion and grace--a revelatory memoir in the tradition of Educated and Hillbilly Elegy. Raised by an impoverished widow who earned room and board as a Bible teacher in 1950s Atlanta, Philip Yancey and his brother, Marshall, found ways to venture out beyond the confines of their eight-foot-wide trailer. But when Yancey was in college, he uncovered a shocking secret about his father's death--a secret that began to illuminate the motivations that drove his mother to extreme, often hostile religious convictions and a belief that her sons had been ordained for a divine cause. Searching for answers, Yancey dives into his family origins, taking us on an evocative journey from the backwoods of the Bible Belt to the bustling streets of Philadelphia; from trailer parks to church sanctuaries; from family oddballs to fire-and-brimstone preachers and childhood awakenings through nature, music, and literature. In time, the weight of religious and family pressure sent both sons on opposite paths--one toward healing from the impact of what he calls a "toxic faith," the other into a self-destructive spiral. Where the Light Fell is a gripping family narrative set against a turbulent time in post-World War II America, shaped by the collision of Southern fundamentalism with the mounting pressures of the civil rights movement and Sixties-era forces of social change. In piecing together his fragmented personal history and his search for redemption, Yancey gives testament to the enduring power of our hunger for truth and the possibility of faith rooted in grace instead of fear. "I truly believe this is the one book I was put on earth to write," says Yancey. "So many of the strands from my childhood—racial hostility, political division, culture wars—have resurfaced in modern form. Looking back points me forward."

30 review for Where the Light Fell

  1. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    In this very personal memoir, Philip Yancey describes his life journey from his fundamentalist Christian upbringing to the life he leads now as a celebrated Christian writer. He talks freely of his dysfunctional family and his, what I would call abusive, upbringing by his religious zealot mother. He discusses in great detail his questions regarding his faith and his struggles between his religious upbringing and the outside world at large. The writing is extremely engaging and I was able to relat In this very personal memoir, Philip Yancey describes his life journey from his fundamentalist Christian upbringing to the life he leads now as a celebrated Christian writer. He talks freely of his dysfunctional family and his, what I would call abusive, upbringing by his religious zealot mother. He discusses in great detail his questions regarding his faith and his struggles between his religious upbringing and the outside world at large. The writing is extremely engaging and I was able to relate to many of his struggles with various religious questions about faith and grace. I think I would enjoy reading some of his other works. Thanks to Convergent Books through Netgalley for an advance copy. This book will be published on October 5,2021.

  2. 4 out of 5

    *TUDOR^QUEEN* (on hiatus)

    This book was not on my radar until I received a marketing email from Random House inviting me to read the book- because I had liked the book Educated by Tara Westover. Philip Yancey has been a writer of religious themed books for decades, but this one is a true memoir of his upbringing. His parents were southern fundamentalists from Atlanta, Georgia who planned on being missionaries to Africa. But after having two sons (Marshall and Philip), the father died from polio at the age of 24. He had b This book was not on my radar until I received a marketing email from Random House inviting me to read the book- because I had liked the book Educated by Tara Westover. Philip Yancey has been a writer of religious themed books for decades, but this one is a true memoir of his upbringing. His parents were southern fundamentalists from Atlanta, Georgia who planned on being missionaries to Africa. But after having two sons (Marshall and Philip), the father died from polio at the age of 24. He had been fighting the disease attached to an iron lung machine at the hospital, but his religious sensibilities propelled him to leave against medical advice. The mother, grief-stricken at her husband's burial site, dedicated her two son's lives in service of God. The now widowed Mrs. Yancey never even considered re-marrying, but steadfastly and determinedly raised the two boys on her own, deriving some charity income from her home church in Philadelphia as well as teaching bible study in various capacities. They moved practically every year, the boys having to keep changing schools, because of the need to find cheaper living accommodations. Eventually they wound up buying the cheapest version of a trailer which could be moved to various locations as needed (at one point church grounds where Mrs. Yancey taught), but at least it was theirs. The author Philip was the younger of the sons. He learned to read well before even going to school, by his own design. He would see his mother and aunt mysteriously gleaning information from newspapers, and was hungry to crack the code. They weren't allowed to go to movies (not that they had the money anyway) or watch TV, so reading became a gift where one could travel in one's mind. Older brother Marshall had an exquisite talent for playing the piano, and also for standing up to their fire and brimstone mother. When Marshall decided to transfer out of one Bible study college for a more liberal one, Mother Yancey became so incensed that she "cursed" him that God would either paralyze him or make him lose his mind. The book also covers Philip's personal journey in being called to God. He attended the same Bible college that his brother first went to, but struggled with his faith and mightily questioned everything including college rules, the integrity of his professors, etc. He also served as a vessel of communication between his psychologically challenged brother and difficult (and probably also psychologically challenged) mother. I do enjoy reading how people survive through life's challenges, like keeping a roof over your head and providing for two children as a widow. I also found it fascinating reading about all the different living situations Philip found himself in, and how he adapted/survived. His eyes became open to the scourge of racism which he had been accustomed to growing up in the south during the sixties. Overall, this was an enlightening and interesting read. Thank you to the publisher Convergent Books / Random House for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David

    I have read all of Philip Yancey's books over the last 20 years and consider him the best theological writer since C S Lewis. His books are readable and full of grace. Yancey always writes from personal experience. This memoir shines new light on all of his writings. Yancey's father died when he was a child because his parents chose to trust that God would heal his polio rather than leave him in an iron lung. His mother dedicated both of her sons to the Lord and was determined that they would be I have read all of Philip Yancey's books over the last 20 years and consider him the best theological writer since C S Lewis. His books are readable and full of grace. Yancey always writes from personal experience. This memoir shines new light on all of his writings. Yancey's father died when he was a child because his parents chose to trust that God would heal his polio rather than leave him in an iron lung. His mother dedicated both of her sons to the Lord and was determined that they would be missionaries some day. Her dual personality: spiritual in public and wildly emotional at home, drove both sons away from the church. Philip's brother Marshal remains an atheist while Philip came to grips with his upbringing and found true faith. This book is an important supplement to Yancey other writings. I feel like I need to reread all of them with the insight I have gained into his life. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Missy

    I will be pondering this book for many days. Philip Yancey calls this a prequel to his other books. The formative years he describes explain an adult lifetime of writing about pain and grace. His family, like all families, has a generational legacy of dysfunction. But Yancy's family dysfunction is combined with legalistic religiosity, the social dysfunction of the 1950's South, and the profound personal tragedy of losing a father. Yet a thread of grace runs through the story. Yancey's relationsh I will be pondering this book for many days. Philip Yancey calls this a prequel to his other books. The formative years he describes explain an adult lifetime of writing about pain and grace. His family, like all families, has a generational legacy of dysfunction. But Yancy's family dysfunction is combined with legalistic religiosity, the social dysfunction of the 1950's South, and the profound personal tragedy of losing a father. Yet a thread of grace runs through the story. Yancey's relationship with his brother, his kind grandparents, the gifts of intelligence and musicality all contribute goodness and hope. There is no tidy ending. Knowing the grace of God does not explain life. But it does allow a person to accept the messiness of it with that same grace - or at least a version of it. Yancey's writing is brave and I'm glad he has shared it. I was provided an advance copy through #NetGalley #WheretheLightFell

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marsha

    A searingly honest memoir about growing up within a fundamentalist Christian community in the south with an emotionally abusive mother and a brother who was brilliant but damaged. Yancey was raised a racist and he addresses that unflinchingly. His honesty about his shortcomings and poor choices is humble and illuminating. Anyone who has been raised in a religious family will be able to relate to a lot of things Yancey had to deal with, but his own experiences are pretty unique and make for absor A searingly honest memoir about growing up within a fundamentalist Christian community in the south with an emotionally abusive mother and a brother who was brilliant but damaged. Yancey was raised a racist and he addresses that unflinchingly. His honesty about his shortcomings and poor choices is humble and illuminating. Anyone who has been raised in a religious family will be able to relate to a lot of things Yancey had to deal with, but his own experiences are pretty unique and make for absorbing and reflective reading. Unputdownable. #netgalley

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joannie

    When I opened my advanced copy of Where the Light Fell, I couldn’t put it down. The lyrical stories lifted me off the page, moving me swiftly from one scene to another. I traveled back in time to Philip Yancey’s childhood and teen years. I winced at his pain and celebrated his achievements. Some of his tragic experiences appear impossible to reconcile with the presence of a good and loving God. And yet, much like the Japanese art of Kintsugi – in which broken pottery is mended with seams of gold When I opened my advanced copy of Where the Light Fell, I couldn’t put it down. The lyrical stories lifted me off the page, moving me swiftly from one scene to another. I traveled back in time to Philip Yancey’s childhood and teen years. I winced at his pain and celebrated his achievements. Some of his tragic experiences appear impossible to reconcile with the presence of a good and loving God. And yet, much like the Japanese art of Kintsugi – in which broken pottery is mended with seams of golden lacquer, creating a much more valuable object – Philip gradually reveals a glowing thread, wonderfully woven through each episode, one that beautifies even the most sorrowful scars. I have gained a deeper understanding of Philip’s motivation for writing, and a richer appreciation of the steep price of his eloquent words. Where the Light Fell: A Memoir

  7. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    First sentence: Not until college do I discover the secret of my father’s death. My girlfriend, who will later become my wife, is making her first visit to my home city of Atlanta, in early 1968. The two of us stop by my grandparents’ house with my mother, have a snack, and retire to the living room. Where The Light Fell is Philip Yancey's memoir. After reading it, it clarifies why his books are almost always touching on two subjects: PAIN and GRACE. For the record, I don't think I've read any of First sentence: Not until college do I discover the secret of my father’s death. My girlfriend, who will later become my wife, is making her first visit to my home city of Atlanta, in early 1968. The two of us stop by my grandparents’ house with my mother, have a snack, and retire to the living room. Where The Light Fell is Philip Yancey's memoir. After reading it, it clarifies why his books are almost always touching on two subjects: PAIN and GRACE. For the record, I don't think I've read any of his solo books. Yes, I know he's been around forever and ever--five decades. (His books include: What's So Amazing About Grace?, The Jesus I Never Knew, Where Is God When It Hurts?, Disappointment with God, Soul Survivor, Prayer: Does It Make a Difference?, What Good is God?, The Bible Jesus Read, etc.) What should you know? It is a memoir. That sounds obvious. Yet, in skimming the reviews of it so far, I've stumbled across some comments like all this guy talks about is his life. Yes, it's a memoir. He's going to talk about his life. Yancey is a Christian. But. His faith didn't come easy. He may have been raised in a Christian home, but that complicated matters whether than eased them. That's not me making assumptions. That is his reflection. The book doesn't sugarcoat his long, difficult, uncomfortable, uneasy journey from Christian-in-name-only to actual-Christian. He knew how to put on a show, put on a Christian face, talk Christian-ese, pass as a believer, etc. But he felt it was fake, knew it to be fake. This book spends a great deal of time in his squirming struggles to come to terms with who he is and who God is. Yancey is human. Again obvious, I know. But his memoir is in many ways ABOUT dysfunctional families. As Tolstoy says, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." The book is about the strained relationships certainly. Readers learn a lot about his mother and his brother. I'll also add this one shines a light on issues like MENTAL HEALTH and RACISM. Some might accuse Yancey of being "woke" or going "woke." But if he is, he made that journey decades ago. He was raised racist--and some of that racism was explicitly taught in his Independent Fundamental Baptist church. But also most of his schooling occurred BEFORE integration. He was coming of age during the Civil Rights Movement. And there was tension and conflict. He had to wrestle with ideas and beliefs. He determined for himself that it was wrong, wrong, super-wrong. And that he had to break away from what he'd been taught. He was raised in an extreme. He grew up Independent Fundamental Baptist. And again he had to wrestle with himself--with ideas, beliefs, etc--to determine what he actually believed. Sometimes that meant departing from the super-strict sometimes arbitrary nature of the IFB. He did attend a Bible college. Rejecting the toxic elements of his past did not--for him--mean tossing God too. But it was a process of separating out what does the Bible actually say AND what do they say the Bible says. This one might need a couple of trigger warnings. Especially in regards to verbal, mental, emotional, spiritual abuse. It is a heavy read in some places. And it clearly shows the long-term dangers of childhood trauma. Another additional trigger warning about suicidal thoughts and attempts. It is blurring the lines--a bit--when it comes to comfort zones. At least for me. This book really GOES all the way when it comes to his troubled brother. These are real-life issues. I don't doubt it for a minute. But it's a LOT to take in. And I'm not sure I need to know all the sexual transgressions of his brother in the free love years. Quotes: My father isn’t even a memory, only a scar. Certainly, no one could accuse our mother of “unspiritual” behavior. Unlike some women in our church, she has never worn a pair of slacks, nor does she wear nail polish or makeup, not even lipstick. She never fails to have lengthy personal devotions every morning, and she teaches the Bible for a living. What chance do two adolescent kids stand against such an authority? Mother claims she hasn’t sinned in twelve years—longer than I’ve been alive. She follows a branch of the holiness tradition that suggests Christians can reach a higher spiritual plane, a state of moral perfection. The pastor of her Philadelphia church uses a glove to illustrate the point. “The Holy Spirit lives inside you like my fingers in this glove,” he says. “It’s not you living now; it’s the Spirit of God in you.” Our three-person family isn’t working anymore. I have no way to put into words the changes going on, but something is tearing me inside. I want to run up to someone I recognize in church and say: “Please, please can you help us. I need someone to know what’s happening at home.” Then I remember my mother’s reputation and realize that no one will believe me. She’s a saint, the holiest woman in Atlanta. The church has clearly lied to me about race. And about what else? Jesus? The Bible? Slowly it sinks in that nothing that Marshall or I do will please Mother, that our lives are a stabbing reminder of her own failed dreams and especially the dream—the vow—she had for us. It dawns on me, that’s why she’s so insistent about the Bible college. She can feel us slipping away. Perhaps, the thought crosses my mind, I am resisting not God but people who speak for God. I’ve already learned to distrust my childhood churches’ views on race and politics. What else should I reject? A much harder question: What should I keep? Lenin once said that he refused to listen to Beethoven because the music made him want to pat children on the head. There are no small children on the college campus, but now I understand what he means. Those who appear the least lovable usually need the most love.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Linder

    This is my first time in the page of a Philip Yancey book, and I found the writing so smooth and natural that I was drawn right in. This memoir explores the author’s personal life of hurt and suffering—but also what led him to grace. Recommended! *I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen R

    My first Philip Yancy book. A profound and enlightening memoir that had the inspirational side benefit of re-examination of my own faith.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Through the first few chapters of this memoir, I worried that I was reading another Educated -- brutal for the sake of being brutal. But Philip Yancey's tumultuous upbringing set the stage for a life lived in pursuit of God despite the pain and temptation the world inflicts. This respected Christian author tells the story of his fundamentalist Southern background and broken family in a way that's both honest and compassionate. I've never read any of his other work, and I think I need to fix that Through the first few chapters of this memoir, I worried that I was reading another Educated -- brutal for the sake of being brutal. But Philip Yancey's tumultuous upbringing set the stage for a life lived in pursuit of God despite the pain and temptation the world inflicts. This respected Christian author tells the story of his fundamentalist Southern background and broken family in a way that's both honest and compassionate. I've never read any of his other work, and I think I need to fix that. I received an ARC in a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Small

    I read What's So Amazing About Grace?] decades ago and it impacted me greatly. After reading Yancey’s memoir Where The Light Fell, I now understand why the impact was so great: he writes from experience- his own dramatic, personal experiences with GRACE. I am thwarted from sharing profound highlights; per publisher request, reviews and quotes from the book are not to be published by reviewers until after the book’s October publication date. Mr. Yancey addresses a broad range of people and I high I read What's So Amazing About Grace?] decades ago and it impacted me greatly. After reading Yancey’s memoir Where The Light Fell, I now understand why the impact was so great: he writes from experience- his own dramatic, personal experiences with GRACE. I am thwarted from sharing profound highlights; per publisher request, reviews and quotes from the book are not to be published by reviewers until after the book’s October publication date. Mr. Yancey addresses a broad range of people and I highly recommend it to people of faith, people who have lost faith, or people who never had a faith experience. It is emotionally deep (and sometimes dark), but through the painful experiences Mr. Yancey shares, it is also spiritually moving, offering insights to redemptive truths and important thematic messages. I am gleaning insights about my own life and experiences as I reflect on this powerful memoir. Needless to say, I will be revisiting Phillip Yancey. I have always enjoyed his books but now I want to reread them with the perspective I have gained from reading his perplexing and powerful memoir. Thank you Netgalley, the author and publisher for an ARC of this thought provoking memoir.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Summary: A memoir of coming out of a fundamentalist, racist, and abusive upbringing. One reviewer described this as a prequel to his other books on grace and suffering.  There are few names in Christian publishing that are more recognizable than Philip Yancey. He started his career writing for Campus Life and Christianity Today but became widely known for his books, most reflections on suffering and/or grace. Yancey has written about 30 books, depending on how you count books he contributed t Summary: A memoir of coming out of a fundamentalist, racist, and abusive upbringing. One reviewer described this as a prequel to his other books on grace and suffering.  There are few names in Christian publishing that are more recognizable than Philip Yancey. He started his career writing for Campus Life and Christianity Today but became widely known for his books, most reflections on suffering and/or grace. Yancey has written about 30 books, depending on how you count books he contributed to or edited. And he has sold roughly 15 million copies of those books. He has been widely influential. Philip Yancey is part of my parent's generation, turning 72 next month, and I think it is natural for authors to think about memoirs and influences at that point. It is not that younger authors can't also write memoirs; Danté Stewart's Shoutin' in the Fire is an excellent reflection of an author in his 30s. But memoirs that are written toward the end of life have a different type of reflective ability. Where the Light Fell primarily deals with Yancey's childhood and early adulthood before he became a writer. This is a book about what influenced him with a final chapter that grapples with that history, one that I read twice. The book is unflinching but charitable. There is a lot of pain here. And a clear view of the impact of generational trauma. Yancey is not a Christian author that tends to tie everything up in neat bows. At the end, there is still pain and disfunction. Philip Yancey was the youngest of two children, born in 1949, three years after his older brother. His parents had what appears to be a storybook romance. His father was in the military at the end of WWII. He was invited to the home of a church member after attending church soon after becoming a Christians. His mother was living with that family while supporting herself through college to become a teacher. They met and soon married. He soon became wrapped up with her dream of becoming a missionary to Africa. They finished bible school, and he taught at a black bible college in Atlanta as they raised support. But soon after Philip was born, his father contracted polio and died before Philip had a conscious memory of him. It was only in his 20s while introducing his wife to his grandparents, that Philip saw a newspaper article that changed his understanding of that death. The article talked about how his father had left Grady Hospital, where he was in an iron lung, and went to a chiropractic rehabilitation center because he believed that he would be miraculously healed so that the family could go to Africa as missionaries. Unfortunately, days after leaving the iron lung, he died. Not long later, his widowed mother committed the two boys to be missionaries in Africa as a kind of consolation for the loss of her dream. She raised the boys in a strict fundamentalist holiness tradition. Her meager widow's pension was supplemented by bible teaching, both paid and unpaid roles. Yancey is generous to his mother in many ways. Providing context to not just the difficult circumstances but also the culture and family history of his mother's upbringing and deprivation. But there is no question that this was an abusive household, primarily with tools of emotional and spiritual abuse. But within the context of overt racist, hierarchical theology and confrontational KJV-only fundamentalism. In being generous to his contexts, he does not shy away from the implications and harms of that background. Nor does he shy away from grappling with his complicity in racism or cruelty toward others. Part of what his life of grappling with pain and suffering has meant is that grace is essential because we are in a world of suffering and pain. But grace does not mean that everything gets fixed. His still-living 96-year-old mother has never read any of his books. She still believes that Philip and his brother have sinned against God by not becoming missionaries as she desired. His brother has not directly talked to his mother in nearly 40 years, with only a few letters back and forth and Philip as an intermediary. His brother rejected Christianity in his 20s still identifies as an atheist. The strength of Where the Light Fell is in the grappling, not just the story. Yancey is a talented writer. The book is gripping and challenging to put down. But the value isn't only the prose; it is also the theological reflection that seeks out grace even when it is hard to see.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Aberdeen

    Yancey's mom said she hadn't sinned in twelve years. She dedicated him and his brother to God, to be missionaries to Africa in the place of their father, who died from polio before he reached the mission field. Their father didn't just die from polio—he died after he had himself removed from the iron lung because he believed the prayers of his supporters couldn't fail. What do you do with an upbringing like that, raised in trailer parks, schooled at churches which preach that the "mark of Cain" Yancey's mom said she hadn't sinned in twelve years. She dedicated him and his brother to God, to be missionaries to Africa in the place of their father, who died from polio before he reached the mission field. Their father didn't just die from polio—he died after he had himself removed from the iron lung because he believed the prayers of his supporters couldn't fail. What do you do with an upbringing like that, raised in trailer parks, schooled at churches which preach that the "mark of Cain" is being Black? You either, in the words of Augustine as Yancey quotes, put your faith in the things on which the light falls—or you learn to put your faith in the light itself, the true light which you have to disentangle from the false light, the shadows you were raised to believe were the sun. Yancey's brother, Marshall, chooses the first path, a total rejection of God and any Christian values. You can't blame him. Yancey doesn't. And yet Yancey finds his way—or he is brought back—to the Christ he was told about but never really knew growing up. It's fascinating and painful to wonder how the two brothers ended up in such different places. Yancey doesn't try to explain the mystery but he responds the only way one can: humble gratitude and a desire to offer up his testimony as a thank-you and a glimpse of light to any other troubled seekers. One of the beautiful parts of his story is that, as the title says, he was brought back to God through those objects on which the light fell—nature and music and the love of a girlfriend. The objects, although they are not the light themselves, can point us to the light, and that is a great mercy. Overall, a must-read for anyone seeking to understand Christian fundamentalism or wanting an honest, hopeful picture of what deconstruction—and then reconstruction—can look like. All my life as I wrote, I heard my brother's voice saying over my shoulder: What is real, and what is fake? (This is a paraphrase because I had to return my library book before I could copy quotes, alas.)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    A really beautiful exploration of faith, grace and the brokenness mental illness can bring to the church when not named. I learned so much about the journey of an author I love. He has guided me through so many of my own doubts and questions. His life made him an honest guide.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vonda

    Where the Light Fell by Philip Yancey is probably the best book I’ve read so far this year. It was achingly honest; a bird’s eye view of his strict fundamentalist Christian upbringing. Philip and his brother, Marshall, suffered through their childhood in the face of a graceless, strict, verbally abusive mother and churches that preached hellfire and obedience at all costs. The result was a definite cost in Philip and Marshall’s lives. They experienced a crushing pressure to be perfect. Philip re Where the Light Fell by Philip Yancey is probably the best book I’ve read so far this year. It was achingly honest; a bird’s eye view of his strict fundamentalist Christian upbringing. Philip and his brother, Marshall, suffered through their childhood in the face of a graceless, strict, verbally abusive mother and churches that preached hellfire and obedience at all costs. The result was a definite cost in Philip and Marshall’s lives. They experienced a crushing pressure to be perfect. Philip responded by hiding his feelings and Marshall responded by breaking every rule and rejecting Christianity because what he did was never good enough anyway. Their experiences remind me of two verses from Matthew. Matt. 23:27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity.” They were forced to be hyper-focused on looking the part, fracturing their psyches. That is such a heavy burden. Jesus doesn’t condone placing heavy weights and burdens upon another. Matt. 18:6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Philip’s unfortunate life events began with a father who died when he was an infant. His mother experienced her own difficult circumstances in childhood and the resulting hardness in her soul from her pain, along with a strict religious framework, formed a mother who ran a graceless home. This type of honest book about the way strict fundamentalist Christianity functions and harms, is rare and needed in our time. Fundamentalism rewards outward appearances more than telling the truth. People get off track and focus on the wrong things. In Philip’s case, his mother was one person outside the home and someone entirely different inside the home. Philip, over time, was able to tell the truth and confront his mother, even though he knew it would hurt, himself included. He was able to do so in a careful, loving, grace-filled and gentle manner in spite of the harm she had done to him. The pain that was wrought in their lives will never completely be resolved this side of heaven as Philip openly shared. I hate that the pain wasn’t/isn’t fully resolved. I think most of us have one or two difficult relationships where it’s a struggle to get along because of the person’s behavior and/or mental health. This book will be insightful to you as you navigate those difficulties in your own life. . This one is definitely worth a read. I received an arc copy from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Philip Yancey is a very familiar name to me. He’s been a Christian author for decades, and although I couldn’t tell you a single book of his that I have read for sure, I’m pretty confident that I have read some by him. In my mind, I associate him with readable, intelligent writing. But I don’t know much if anything about his background. So when his publicist wrote, asking if I’d like to review his new memoir, “Where the Light Fell,” I was happy to say yes. There were times, as Yancey describes his Philip Yancey is a very familiar name to me. He’s been a Christian author for decades, and although I couldn’t tell you a single book of his that I have read for sure, I’m pretty confident that I have read some by him. In my mind, I associate him with readable, intelligent writing. But I don’t know much if anything about his background. So when his publicist wrote, asking if I’d like to review his new memoir, “Where the Light Fell,” I was happy to say yes. There were times, as Yancey describes his upbringing in the church, when I could have sworn he was channeling my memoir. His descriptions of his reluctance at witnessing, reactions to various Bible stories, and even his anecdote about his brother answering the phone with a bit of the Lord’s Prayer, all rang very, very true and familiar to me. But Yancey had some really tough times. They began early: when he was just a toddler and his brother a few years older, their father died. Dad contracted polio and was in an iron lung, when his parents decided to “trust God” and spring Dad from the iron lung, only to see him die soon thereafter. Now the Yanceys faced truly dire circumstances — a single mom with no income, and her two young boys. The family lived in a small trailer in Georgia, which they often parked in the parking lots of churches willing to let them hook up for water and electric. Church was a huge part of the family’s life, coming mainly through their mom. One big lesson of this book to me, at least, is how damaging one person can be to a child growing up, and in this case that person was their mom. She was a Christian and tried her darnedest to get her boys to grow up in the faith, but unfortunately she went about things in a horribly misguided way. “Lord, if you don’t want them to fill their father’s place as missionaries in Africa, go ahead and take them now. They’re yours. I’ve given them to you,” her boys heard their mom pray. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of parental affection, and Yancy recounts how the Biblical story of Hannah crying out to God became one of his least favorites. Mrs. Yancey is revered in local churches, although her boys see another side of her. When young Philip bites his brother, his mom bites him back, hard, to teach him a lesson. When neighborhood cats wander through, Mrs. Yancey throws boiling water at them. She teaches young Philip to ride a bike by running after him, hitting him with a switch each time he falls. When he confronts her about this as an adult, her response is, “Well, you learned to ride a bike, didn’t you?” When older brother Marshall transgresses in some way, his mom’s response is often “You’ll never make a missionary with that attitude.” Yancey writes, “We can’t put together the two people who are our mother: the angelic one everyone else sees and the volatile one we live with.” Making matters worse is his mother’s theological belief that she has achieved sinlessness: “Mother claims she hasn’t sinned in twelve years — longer than I’ve been alive.” It’s a little hard for someone believing they’re perfect to see their faults. As Philip grows up, he goes to a Bible college and begins to see the inconsistencies of his upbringing and within the church. I was a little off-put by his many criticisms of the church and its faults (he mainly mentions a lot about racism). I admit that his particular churches may have been guilty of this, although despite the similarities in our upbringings, it’s not an issue I saw growing up. He mentions near the end “the more recent anomaly of evangelicals’ support for Donald Trump,” which to me is code for Yancey being a fairly “liberal Christian.” This makes me take many things he says with a grain of salt but that’s okay; he’s obviously entitled to his own beliefs and opinions on various things as we all are. Mrs. Yancey’s harshness had a much worse effect on Philip’s older brother Marshall. Marshall decides to switch from his small Bible College to Wheaton, which Mrs. Yancey sees as a godless, liberal place. She announces to her son, “I’ll do whatever it takes to stop you, young man. You listen to me. If you find a way to pull off this plan, I guarantee you one thing. I’ll pray every day for the rest of your life that God will break you. Maybe you’ll be in a terrible accident and die. That’ll teach you. Or, better yet, maybe you’ll be paralyzed. Then you’ll have to lie on your back and stare at the ceiling and realize what a rebellious thing you’ve done, going against God’s will and everything you’ve been brought up to believe.” Wow — I have been witness to similar things, but still, it amazes that a parent could say such things to their child. What awful, awful damage they inflict. Sadly, this curse scarred Marshall for life and he is living a broken life, having had a stroke about a decade ago and having dealt with drug abuse and mental illness. He has told Philip that he’ll never feel free while his mother is alive. And, just short of 100, Mrs. Yancey still lives. Philip, meanwhile, married (no children, interestingly) and is the author of numerous best-selling books. He is still a Christian, although his beliefs have evolved. He says that the two major themes he writes on are grace and suffering — reasonable given his past. Interesting book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Beautiful, gut wrenching, and ultimately hopeful. Yancey details his childhood in an extreme version of Southern fundamentalism— a church context I’d describe as spiritually abusive, or close to it. Parts of it are brutal, yet never really surprising: I thought a lot about how fundamentalism continues to shape American politics, culture, even my own denomination, and how little its had to change. This is basically a deconstruction story, but in the best and most beautiful way. Yancey jettisons t Beautiful, gut wrenching, and ultimately hopeful. Yancey details his childhood in an extreme version of Southern fundamentalism— a church context I’d describe as spiritually abusive, or close to it. Parts of it are brutal, yet never really surprising: I thought a lot about how fundamentalism continues to shape American politics, culture, even my own denomination, and how little its had to change. This is basically a deconstruction story, but in the best and most beautiful way. Yancey jettisons the bad stuff but longs for the love and grace of Jesus. There’s so much loveliness here, so much witness-bearing to common grace, the possibility of reconciliation, and more. I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it, especially if you’ve got church baggage you need to work through.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    Painful and as real as it gets, Yancey discovers grace after a lifetime of rigid religious imprisonment. Brilliantly written memoir about healing, and finding a loving, rather than a fearsome, God, after being taught otherwise. Mostly enjoyed reading about his brother Marshall's latest antics, although heartbroken over the sustained damage ensured during his upbringing. Each chapter begins with a quote in the header, which brought to my attention, the poems of Mary Oliver and George Herbert, to Painful and as real as it gets, Yancey discovers grace after a lifetime of rigid religious imprisonment. Brilliantly written memoir about healing, and finding a loving, rather than a fearsome, God, after being taught otherwise. Mostly enjoyed reading about his brother Marshall's latest antics, although heartbroken over the sustained damage ensured during his upbringing. Each chapter begins with a quote in the header, which brought to my attention, the poems of Mary Oliver and George Herbert, to whom I am currently reading the works of. Nothing beats being educated while enjoying the process!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    This memoir is, I think, a cathartic exercise for Yancey. It often seems to be a healing experience to recount the toxic events from youth and that is what Yancey does. He takes us up to the last of his elementary school years in the first half of the book. His father died of polio when Yancey was still a toddler so he was raised by a single mom. His memories include having pets, going to the dentist, sticking a raisin up his nose, sibling rivalry, antics during long sermons at a fundamental chu This memoir is, I think, a cathartic exercise for Yancey. It often seems to be a healing experience to recount the toxic events from youth and that is what Yancey does. He takes us up to the last of his elementary school years in the first half of the book. His father died of polio when Yancey was still a toddler so he was raised by a single mom. His memories include having pets, going to the dentist, sticking a raisin up his nose, sibling rivalry, antics during long sermons at a fundamental church, skipping a grade in elementary school, the Cold War, changing schools, southern stories, racist relatives, odd cousins, his mother unraveling, Bible camps and more. Yancey then writes about high school, his fascination with science, breaking his bones repeatedly, self awareness and personality, attending a Bible college, having his first authentic spiritual experience, his older bother's spiritual crisis and later mental breakdown and drug habit, and graduate school and entering a career in writing. Yancey does share a few thoughts on his life near the end of the book. He writes about suffering and grace. But the thrust of the book is Yancey's history alone. He writes in the Author's Note, “Looking back, I wanted to understand myself, as well as the environment that helped form me.” (4430/4463) He did so, he says, the only way he knows how, by writing. I am not sure of the benefit of this book to the readers. It is a good example of how one one man made it through toxic experiences with a mature faith while his brother did not. What is missing, however, is how Yancey did make it through to to being the Christian he is today. Perhaps he has shared that in other books he has written but he does not do so here. So, if you want to read an engaging account of Yancey's experiences, this is your book. If you want insights into surviving similar toxic experiences, you will have to look elsewhere. I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    Philip Yancey is very open about his childhood in this thought-provoking  memoir. He starts off by sharing information about how he discovered the horrible way his father died from polio; his parents were both behind the choices  that hastened his death. Perhaps he would have lived if he hadn't been moved away from the hospital and treatments for polio. He also shares details about his growing up years and what I can only think of as hijinks from them. He and his brother were just a couple of typ Philip Yancey is very open about his childhood in this thought-provoking  memoir. He starts off by sharing information about how he discovered the horrible way his father died from polio; his parents were both behind the choices  that hastened his death. Perhaps he would have lived if he hadn't been moved away from the hospital and treatments for polio. He also shares details about his growing up years and what I can only think of as hijinks from them. He and his brother were just a couple of typical boys raised at a time when children had a lot of freedom and spent good portions of their days outside. A big part of his life  was his careful introspection of his own actions and thoughts. At times, he would use this to find ways to get along with others--not always sincerely.  Some of the hardest parts of the book are the details of his mother's behavior. From the angelic Bible teacher out in the world, to the  difficult mom who punished her children--often without a reason--and who would lapse into downright mean, horrible  comments.  Philip's brother admitted that he hated her.  Moreover, another difficult part of the was the treatment of blacks. Because of  Philip's growing awareness of how unfair that was added to the story and covers a time in our history that was the beginning of much needed change in our country. I recommend this book to anyone who would enjoy books by the author or the honest, ruminations of someone who grew up and lived during a time that in so many ways was a turning point for our country.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heather Totten

    I am rocked by this book, as I see within myself a tendency toward religion in my approach towards God. Trying to be better in my own power and not by the ability that only God can provide. In doing so I’m sure those around me at times have seen a perverted view of God. This in not how God intended it to be. In reading this I’m reminded that only by Gods grace can we truly see him and only by Gods grace will one live a life that is fully glorifying to Him! Yancey, so beautiful and raw in his des I am rocked by this book, as I see within myself a tendency toward religion in my approach towards God. Trying to be better in my own power and not by the ability that only God can provide. In doing so I’m sure those around me at times have seen a perverted view of God. This in not how God intended it to be. In reading this I’m reminded that only by Gods grace can we truly see him and only by Gods grace will one live a life that is fully glorifying to Him! Yancey, so beautiful and raw in his descriptions of growing up under extreme fundamentalism and seeing the hypocrisy within the Church of professing believers and those he loved. Many of whom often failed to live out what they processed. Though I’m sure his mother’s zeal for holiness within her children came from a good place, it often brought about the complete opposite. This is always been and will continue to be my prayer, that my zeal for God would not come from a perverted sense or love, service and fear, but would be only a zeal to love and honor my God in a way that truly represents him. The God who has died for everyone of my failures and knows that no amount of effort on my part would ever earn such a gift as his presence, has chosen to draw me to himself, and for that I’m humbled and grateful! Lord help use to truly honor and trust you with our loved ones and not hinder you in drawing them to you with out silly efforts at conversion. I intend to read more books by this author. I appreciate his authenticity about his walk of faith and doubt. This book has me really evaluating areas of my own hypocrisy, and where my stubborn will may cause damage to someone else view of God. Thank you Mr. Yancey for this touching book on your life!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    In Where the Light Fell, Philip Yancey writes his memoir, choosing to focus especially on his childhood through his college years. He and his brother had a difficult childhood with a firm mother who appeared to struggle with undiagnosed mental struggles. While she appeared devout to others and dedicated herself faithfully to the church and to biblical instruction for children, in her home, she was harsh, unpredictable, and angry. Money was tight and moves were frequent. There are lessons to be le In Where the Light Fell, Philip Yancey writes his memoir, choosing to focus especially on his childhood through his college years. He and his brother had a difficult childhood with a firm mother who appeared to struggle with undiagnosed mental struggles. While she appeared devout to others and dedicated herself faithfully to the church and to biblical instruction for children, in her home, she was harsh, unpredictable, and angry. Money was tight and moves were frequent. There are lessons to be learned in Yancey's realization of how his father died of polio -- his parents made the decision to have him discharged and seek alternative treatment, which feels prescient in today's polarization surrounding approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic. In other instances of newfound relevance given our current circumstances, Yancey describes his experience and assumptions about race and people of color, and how those views were challenged and changed. He also examines his fundamentalist faith in new eyes. I found this a gripping, beautiful biography frankly told in humbleness and gentleness. I appreciated his skill in revisiting his childhood, finding the moments that were transformative and the people who were supportive. This, ultimately, is the story of conversion on multiple levels: in his faith, in his relationships, and in his life. (I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eunice R

    Books written by Philip Yancey have been a boon and a blessing in many believers' lives; I for one, can attest to that. They are "get real" books; drop the facade. In this book, Yancey unveils "where he's coming from" in those books. Again, a blessing to know of the struggles endured throughout his lifetime, at home and at church, yet being able to strongly come to terms, in sincere faith and by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who have grown up in a home and/or church setting that have Books written by Philip Yancey have been a boon and a blessing in many believers' lives; I for one, can attest to that. They are "get real" books; drop the facade. In this book, Yancey unveils "where he's coming from" in those books. Again, a blessing to know of the struggles endured throughout his lifetime, at home and at church, yet being able to strongly come to terms, in sincere faith and by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who have grown up in a home and/or church setting that have, as Yancey puts it, an "extreme form of faith" and have been spiritually and emotionally abused thereby, will relate to his "verbal selfie" aka "memoir" (his terms). They will know there is hope. Philip Yancey, thank-you for candidly sharing your life's journey; it helps! ~Eunice C., Reviewer/Blogger~ September 2021 Disclaimer: This is my honest opinion based on the review copy sent by the publisher.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I received a digital ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I don't read Christian books and had never heard of Yancey before reading this book, so I read it purely as a memoir. As a memoir, it didn't work for me, and I should have thrown in the towel on this one but kept thinking it was going to get better. While some aspects of Yancey's fundamentalist upbringing and the mental illness in his family were interesting, I didn't find Yancey well suited as a memoirist. He constantl I received a digital ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I don't read Christian books and had never heard of Yancey before reading this book, so I read it purely as a memoir. As a memoir, it didn't work for me, and I should have thrown in the towel on this one but kept thinking it was going to get better. While some aspects of Yancey's fundamentalist upbringing and the mental illness in his family were interesting, I didn't find Yancey well suited as a memoirist. He constantly changes and manipulates who is as he grows up, typically not in a manner to get to know himself or improve himself, but often to gain something from others or in order to paint himself in a certain light. As such, he writes the memoir more like a biography as there is almost always a remove from his own experiences. While I admire his willingness to share his flaws and mistakes, I rarely felt his guilt or remorse, either. There are a few heinous acts of animal abuse that will make many readers squeamish, and also terrible examples of racism and hurt inflicted on others (not always at Yancey's hands). While readers of his Christian books may be interested in the "prequel" to those days, I don't recommend this as a free-standing memoir.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Szerdy

    Where the light fell By Philip Yancey This, for me, long awaited memoir of an author who has remained on the top ten list of bestselling authors in the Christian publishing market for decades, is for anyone who has suffered religious abuse, for anyone raised in a home —where a parent used religion to cajole, manipulate, berate —where a parent used their stalwart faith, perhaps even with the best of intentions, but resulting in psychological, sexual or physical harm. —where one or both parents were Where the light fell By Philip Yancey This, for me, long awaited memoir of an author who has remained on the top ten list of bestselling authors in the Christian publishing market for decades, is for anyone who has suffered religious abuse, for anyone raised in a home —where a parent used religion to cajole, manipulate, berate —where a parent used their stalwart faith, perhaps even with the best of intentions, but resulting in psychological, sexual or physical harm. —where one or both parents were extreme Pentecostal/fundamentalist Yancey’s telling of his life story is raw, honest, authentic and had me from page 1. He calls his memoir the prequel to all of his other books on suffering and grace. Unlike his only sibling, Yancey allowed the adversity of the first half of his life to be his teacher, finding healing and peace. “I’ve even learned to find gratitude…I emerged with a deep sense that the choices we make profoundly matter…Nothing, in the end, was wasted.” In the end, he came to “love God out of gratitude, not fear.”

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I had hopes that this memoir would explore some of the ways Christian fundamentalism (especially as practiced in the US south) can make people anxious, can warp them and make them ill-suited for a healthy life. And the end of the story is that Yancey wrestles with his faith but graduates from his repressive Bible college and stays a believer while marrying his sweetheart. Lives a good life as a journalist, faith author, stand up guy. His brother, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia (does Yancey b I had hopes that this memoir would explore some of the ways Christian fundamentalism (especially as practiced in the US south) can make people anxious, can warp them and make them ill-suited for a healthy life. And the end of the story is that Yancey wrestles with his faith but graduates from his repressive Bible college and stays a believer while marrying his sweetheart. Lives a good life as a journalist, faith author, stand up guy. His brother, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia (does Yancey believe this diagnosis?) leaves The Faith and Suffers Mightily and Decides He Will Not Change. Yancey seems to read his brother’s life as being ruined by his own belief in a religious “curse” prayed onto him by his mother. I have serious problems in the brother’s life being held up as an example of leaving the faith, while Yancey’s doubts about fundamentalism lead to him re-embracing faith and becoming a bestselling author of Christian books. I guess what I really mean is: does Yancey believe one can leave their repressive faith and live a good life?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I received a free ARC of Where the Light Fell through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you! Philip Yancey covers some tough stuff in his memoir. It's difficult to read at times - as it should be - but I think he does a good job sharing his story without unnecessarily sensationalizing it. Although he includes occasional commentary and reflections, especially toward the end, for the most part he allows his storytelling to show the dysfunction in his family and church environments, which makes for somethi I received a free ARC of Where the Light Fell through a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you! Philip Yancey covers some tough stuff in his memoir. It's difficult to read at times - as it should be - but I think he does a good job sharing his story without unnecessarily sensationalizing it. Although he includes occasional commentary and reflections, especially toward the end, for the most part he allows his storytelling to show the dysfunction in his family and church environments, which makes for something more powerful than simply explaining all the problems. He does the same for later factors that helped him toward healing, growing into healthier relationships both with God and with others. And throughout he writes with admirable compassion for people and institutions that hurt him deeply.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lisa notes

    Philip Yancey writes in this book that two life themes surface in all his books: suffering and grace. That's why I've turned to his books again and again through the years because who hasn't had suffering and who doesn't need grace? It’s delightful now to hear Yancey’s backstory. In this book he takes us back to his father dying from polio when Philip was only three years old. It changes the trajectory of his life. From then on, Philip and his brother Marshall will have scandalous ups and downs as t Philip Yancey writes in this book that two life themes surface in all his books: suffering and grace. That's why I've turned to his books again and again through the years because who hasn't had suffering and who doesn't need grace? It’s delightful now to hear Yancey’s backstory. In this book he takes us back to his father dying from polio when Philip was only three years old. It changes the trajectory of his life. From then on, Philip and his brother Marshall will have scandalous ups and downs as they’re raised by their fundamentalist and mentally ill mother. Yancey doesn’t hold back from the ugly parts of his life. He takes responsibility for things like this: “As a true son of the South, I am born and bred a racist.” and “Secretly, I liked watching the way bluish smoke curled up from his nostrils. So that’s what sin looks like, I thought.” But he shows us the redeeming parts too. We see the changes. In true Yancey form, the writing is both glorious and haunting. He arrives at the conclusion that, “Nothing, in the end, was wasted.” I haven’t attained all the wisdom of Yancey, but I appreciate how he is lighting the way for my path. I want to come to the same conclusion that he has at the end of this “verbal selfie”: “Above all else, grace is a gift, one I cannot stop writing about until my story ends.” Yes, please keep writing, Philip Yancey. I’ll keep reading. My thanks to NetGalley + Convergent Books for the review copy of this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    James

    This book. Oh my goodness. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Philip Yancey. While he has always written about himself to an extent—his personal struggles with pain, grace, disappointment, prayer—this is the first time he’s really written about himself. His life, his abusive mother, the death of his father, his lost brother, his growing up in segregated suburban Atlanta (in the same school system I would go through, 20 years later). He writes about surviving a brand of ultra conservative, gracel This book. Oh my goodness. I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Philip Yancey. While he has always written about himself to an extent—his personal struggles with pain, grace, disappointment, prayer—this is the first time he’s really written about himself. His life, his abusive mother, the death of his father, his lost brother, his growing up in segregated suburban Atlanta (in the same school system I would go through, 20 years later). He writes about surviving a brand of ultra conservative, graceless, legalistic, fearful Christianity that disguised itself as “Victorious Christian Living.” And, oh my Lord, this book wrecked me. There’s an Anne Lamott quote on the back cover that sums it up for me: “Philip Yancey isn’t just one of my favorite Christian writers. With this book, he’s become one of my favorite writers, period.” Read it. Better, listen to it; as he narrates the audiobook himself.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Michele Morin

    I’ve been waiting for this book for a LONG time! Of course, details of Philip Yancey’s hardscrabble upbringing have come out piecemeal throughout his other writing, and, more than once, I’ve borrowed his self-descriptive phrase: “recovering fundamentalist.” His long-awaited memoir combines the narrative drive of good storytelling with the life impact of Yancey’s Christian non-fiction. On page one, I was transported back to Philip’s grandparents’ 1960’s-era living room, with The Lawrence Welk Show I’ve been waiting for this book for a LONG time! Of course, details of Philip Yancey’s hardscrabble upbringing have come out piecemeal throughout his other writing, and, more than once, I’ve borrowed his self-descriptive phrase: “recovering fundamentalist.” His long-awaited memoir combines the narrative drive of good storytelling with the life impact of Yancey’s Christian non-fiction. On page one, I was transported back to Philip’s grandparents’ 1960’s-era living room, with The Lawrence Welk Show on the television and a new girlfriend seated beside him on the couch, as a family secret landed like a bomb in Philip’s young adult life. The agony of that untold story radically shaped his childhood. Flannery O’Connor described the south as “Christ-haunted,” but the ghosts that showed up in Philip and his brother’s growing up years had more to do with their widowed mother’s fierce fundamentalism, the pervasive racism and legalism of their ultra-conservative church, and the suffocating poverty that impacted every aspect of their lives. Where the Light Fell: A Memoir is a cautionary tale for Christian parents who long for a degree of orthodoxy in their children to validate their parenting practices or to confirm their own faith. It takes a sinewy faith to watch our children veer off into a different kind of following life, but God is in the business of building our faith by showing us how to let go. Yancey’s memoir sheds light on the motives behind his writing career based on documenting the messiness of faith and the mystery of God’s ways. As he unwraps the layers of his story and comes to an understanding of the shaping influences on this Christianity and his writing, he reveals the mercy of God and the power of truth to prevail in a life that could have gone in at least a dozen destructive directions, but, by grace, followed the path to Light instead.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...