About this book: As a long-time Christian, Heather Kopp never expected to become an out-of-control alcoholic who kept private stashes of booze all over the place–tucked behind books in her study, zipped into a special compartment in her oversized purse, at the back of her closet stuffed inside her boots.
Even as her career and marriage teetered on the brink, Kopp couldn’t get a grip, desperately hiding the true extent of her drinking from the rest of the world–her husband included. During the day she wrote books about God and prayer and family. At night she’d locked herself in her bathroom to guzzle chardonnay.
For her, as for many Christians who struggle with addiction, overwhelming shame and confusion only made things worse. Why wasn’t her faith enough to save her? Why didn’t repentance, Bible reading and prayer work? Where was God?
Meanwhile, as she watched in horror, her grown son descended into his own nightmare of drugs and alcohol. She feared for his life, yet she couldn’t stop drinking long enough to help him–or find a way out for herself.
Until the day everything changed.
Engaging, funny and bracingly honest, Kopp shares her remarkable journey into darkness…and back to the light again. Her story reveals the unique challenges and spiritual conundrums Christians face when they become ensnared in an addiction, and the redemption that’s possible when we finally reach the end of ourselves.
If you love Jesus but shop too much, drink too much, eat too much, crush on men who aren’t your husband, or otherwise fixate on doing things you hate but can’t stop doing, Sober Mercies is for you.
As you follow Kopp’s sincere, stumbling journey toward freedom and a deeply satisfying relationship with God, you’ll find renewed hope–and practical steps of recovery–for your own journey.
Judge this book by its cover? A beautiful cover featuring appropriate allusions to both addiction and hope.
Reminds me of…A Christian addict’s version of Eat, Pray, Love, similar in candor and wit.
Buy or borrow? Buy. One for yourself. More to give away. It’s that good.
Why did I read this book? To review for Jericho, but I would in any case.
Would I read another by this author? I inhale everything this gifted writer writes.
My take: This brave, honest and wise memoir offers hope to Christians who discover that faith alone isn’t always enough to save them from unhealthy habits. “Where do you turn for hope,” Heather writes, “when you already have the answer, but it isn’t working?” With startling honesty, she dives courageously into this highly charged question and delivers the answers she’s discovered.
Sober Mercies is a well-crafted story in three parts. Parts 1 and 2 are sad and fascinating and so gripping you can hardly look away. Part 3, though, is where the real crux and power lie. With vibrant language, Heather talks frankly about everything from her hypocrisy (as she sat in on an intervention with her addicted son, for instance, while herself a secret, raging alcoholic) to sober sex. She brings you inside the skin of an alcoholic, exposing you to the horror, helplessness and apparent hopelessness of that particular hell.
Though I finished it in a matter of days, Sober Mercies isn’t a quick read. I found myself pausing often to read and reread passages to allow their sobering impact sink in. I savored the countless aha moments, including this one:
“…if I was ever going to experience the kind of ongoing spiritual transformation I so desperately wanted, I would have to learn the difference between ascribing to a set of Christian beliefs that had no power to change me, and clinging daily to an experience of God’s love and grace that could.”
And this: “If I wanted to learn how to live again, I needed to learn how to love people.”
Ah! Who among us doesn’t need to learn that?
My own hope is that Sober Mercies finds a wider audience than merely alcoholics or those in recovery. I’d love to see Heather’s story open doors to honest conversation in Christian circles, showing how to get real about so many of the problems that plague us. Depression. Mental illness. Eating disorders. Addictions to food, pornography, lust, gambling, materialism. Problems we typically look to faith to cure, and then despair when it fails to deliver.
We all have our issues. What Heather Kopp reveals in Sober Mercies is that it’s impossible to talk about wholeness and healing without talking about grace. And that’s very good news–no matter who you are.
Thanks to Hachette/Jericho Books for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.
I highly recommend you get to know more about Heather and Sober Mercies by visiting her blog, Soberboots.com. Have I mentioned it’s my very favorite blog? She’s very responsive to readers, and she’d love to hear from you. And finally, check out this vid, in which she talks more about her book:
End notes: If you liked this post, you may also be interested in this Q&A with author Heather Kopp.