Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark by Addie Zierman
About this book: (from the publisher) How do you know God is real? In the emotionally-charged, fire-filled faith in which Addie Zierman grew up, the answer to this question was simple: Because you’ve FELT him.
Now, at age 30, she feels nothing. Just the darkness pressing in. Just the winter cold. Just a buzzing silence where God’s voice used to be.
So she loads her two small children into the minivan one February afternoon and heads south in one last-ditch effort to find the Light.
In her second memoir, Night Driving, Addie Zierman powerfully explores the gap between our sunny, faith fictions and a God who often seems hidden and silent.
Against the backdrop of rushing Interstates, strangers’ hospitality, gas station coffee, and screaming children, Addie stumbles toward a faith that makes room for doubt, disappointment, and darkness…and learns that sometimes you have to run away to find your way home.
About the author: Addie Zierman is a writer, blogger and speaker. She holds an MFA from Hamline University, and her first book, When We Were on Fire, was named one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Top 5 Religious Books of 2013. Addie lives in Minnesota with her husband and two sons and blogs regularly at addizierman.com.
Genre: Non-Fiction/Religion/Christian Life/Memoir
Reminds me of: Faith and Other Flat Tires by Andrea Palpant Dilley; Good God, Lousy World, & Me by Holly Burkhalter
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Reflection: I’m going to have a hard time paring my thoughts down to just a few for this post. This is what Addie Zierman’s writing does to me, whether it’s by blog or book. She open my eyes to what I haven’t seen before and makes me think thoughts never considered. And once exposed, these sights and ideas take some processing to absorb, which I’m tempted to do here. For your sake, I’ll do my best to rein it in.
Addie claims, sometimes, that she’s cynical. Maybe. I’d rather call it questioning. Either way, it amplifies her writing instead of diminishing it. I will also say that while I don’t share Addie’s cynicism (if we’re going to call it that), I think I can understand it. In my own brush with depression a few years ago, I never grappled with the kind of angst she describes. But it allows me to relate to this book in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise.
I also have to say: can we please acknowledge how dangerous it is to insist that faith is felt? If that is so…what makes it faith? If this is what is being taught, no wonder so many struggle to know their faith is real when doubt, or depression, or crap happens. Honestly.
Faith is not feeling, and it is toward this truth that Addie valiantly writes in her gritty, honest, deeply vulnerable memoir. So vulnerable that at times I felt like something of a voyeur, peeking into places where I didn’t belong. And yet by the same token, her courage invites me to journey alongside her as she strives to understand.
I like that.
I claim a pulsing admiration that borders on envy for Addie’s knack of observing the world and then putting what she sees into words. Her use of metaphor is stunning. She has a way of lifting the drab disguise of the ordinary to expose the gleaming scarlet thread of Story woven beneath. She holds a wisdom that reaches far beyond her years — a wisdom, I daresay, that has been painfully hard-won.
Something of a side note: She describes an evangelicalism I haven’t experienced, and it’s hard to say whether that’s because I’ve not been exposed to it up-close-and-personal, or if it’s because I haven’t had the perspective to recognize it. Reading this book, I felt I’ve seen what she describes, but mostly in books or movies. I’ve lived and attended churches the entirety of my life on one coast or the other, where mores tend to be less conservative. Is this the difference? Or have I just been fortunate to land at the right churches? It does strike me that American, Christian subculture is just that — a subculture. It is not Christianity as much as the world experiences it — one has only to travel a bit to see this — and I do think it’s important for American Christians to recognize that.
So. As you can see, already this is devolving far from anything resembling a review. Toward that end, I’ll declare that I found this memoir gripping, enriching, masterfully executed. It is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. Though I finished it weeks ago, while we were dragging through the last days of winter, I’m still pondering its implications. Again, this is what Addie’s work does to me. I read her stuff and I think…and process…for days. But isn’t that what the best writing does? It opens us up to new ideas, and expands our minds and souls. In this way, Night Driving continues to occupy a welcome space in my soul.
Finally, because I so resonate with this truth, I’ll leave you not with my words, but with Addie’s. She writes:
“I wish someone had told me then that eventually the fire would go out and that it would be okay. That it didn’t mean my faith was dying. I wish someone had told me that the fire doesn’t make me whole; that I am whole because of Jesus, whether I feel him or not.” (p. 150)
Thanks to the author and Convergent Books for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.