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When Aaron Hartzler was little, he couldn’t wait for the The Rapture: that moment when Jesus would come down from the clouds to whisk him and his family up to heaven. But as he turns sixteen, Aaron grows more curious about all the things his family forsakes for the Lord. He begins to realize he doesn’t want Jesus to come back just yet—not before he has his first kiss, sees his first movie, or stars in the school play.
Whether he’s sneaking out, making out, or playing hymns with a hangover, Aaron learns a few lessons that can’t be found in the Bible. He discovers that the girl of your dreams can just as easily be the boy of your dreams, and the tricky part about believing is that no one can do it for you.
In this funny and heartfelt coming-of-age memoir, debut author Aaron Hartzler recalls his teenage journey from devoted to doubtful, and the search to find his own truth without losing the fundamentalist family who loves him.
I’m just going to throw this out there: I don’t read non-fiction. I don’t read memoirs. Its not that I don’t like them, I just find my attention span tends to…wander a bit when it comes to things like that. I like to learn and I love to listen to people’s stories but in book form, I just have a ton of problems.
That being said, I first came into contact with Aaron Hartzler just a few weeks ago at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. He was moderating a panel with E. Lockhart, Rainbow Rowell, Andrew Smith and John Corey Whaley, and he kept making me laugh like crazy. He talked a bit about his book and I knew that I had to get my hands on it. Fast forward to the Pasadena Teen Book Festival and I immediately grabbed a copy and made sure that he signed it. I went home, and started the book that night.
And I absolutely loved it. The way Aaron writes his story of growing up in his conservative family is like reading a novel. He writes it so beautifully and you’re addicted to it from page one to the very last page. It feels so familiar to you, like listening to your best friend tell you a story. It was so easy to keep turning the pages because I needed to find out what was going to be happening next.
The story was real and it felt so. It was real and raw and genuine. It wasn’t there to preach or teach a lesson or any of that, but in the end, it sort of did. Aaron told his story, the story of growing up and coming into his own, while trying to live under the expectations of his very conservative family, and while we are on that journey with him, we learn so much about him and his life, but also about ourselves as well. He has a way of getting the reader to think and ask questions without really realizing that you’re doing it and its brilliant.
The book is beautiful and extremely heartwarming. Its familiar, and real, like reading a note from a friend and its also incredibly funny. When I picked up this novel, and slid it across the table for Aaron to sign, its exactly what I had expected and even more than that. There were moments where I felt like crying and moments that I couldn’t stop laughing. There were moments were I wanted to shout “yes!” and moments where I was shaking my head. This is a must-read book for anyone, everyone, and I recommend it over and over and over again. Aaron is a fantastic writer, who has managed to tell his story in such a compelling and addicting way.
5 out of 5 Stars