Emily WierengaEmily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, artist, and the author of five books, including two books on eating disorders, a subject with which she has first-hand experience.  With Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look released July 1, 2014, she shares with us her first memoir.

Atlas Girl follows Wierenga in a journey across the globe, trying to break free from the rigid restraints imposed by religion, searching for God and a place to heal from the lingering struggle with anorexia.  This journey eventually leads her back to her childhood home to care for her ailing mother who was suffering the devastating effects of brain cancer

I loved Atlas Girl in a way not unlike the way I love the gospels. I loved this book because it is real. Wierenga tells stories that will give you a catch at the back of your throat, because her stories tell the truth. And as it says in the gospel of John, the truth will set you free.

I loved the honesty of timing and longing and a feeling that – in spite of the ways things look at the moment, despite the heartache and pain – the truth will eventually set you free.

As the title promises, Atlas Girl is about “finding home.  Wierenga writes about it beautifully, as evidenced in the following excerpt, one central to the theme of the book:

“…recently I started doing watercolor. I’ve tried every other form, oil and acrylic, but watercolor was Nanny’s. And now it’s my favorite medium and I witness my genes pooling with the paint as I mix liquid with pigment and it’s messy, and the lines are blurred, but when it dries, it’s soft and beautiful. That’s life and faith too. Messy, blurred, and beautiful. And even as Dad lifted Nanny’s limp body from the bathtub and Mum ran to her bedroom, even as the ashes sat on the piano while Allison played “How Great Thou Art,” the lines were blurred. The picture was messy. But it hung on the walls of our hearts, unfinished. And it was home.”

Atlas Girl is about anorexia and anger and suicide and uncertainty and faith and forgiveness, although, as Wierenga puts it, “It’s so much easier to be angry than it is to forgive because forgiveness means dying to those angry feelings and not acting on them.”

If you want to feel your feelings deep again, read this book. If you want to spend time with someone who knows how hard it is to believe sometimes, read this book. If you want to remember what it was like to fall in love for the first time, or if you struggle with your family relationships and wonder “where is God in all of this?” — read Atlas Girl. Emily Wierenga will help you find your way home.

 

This review was written by Mark Newton. For more information on Mark, please visit our contributors page.
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