Life in Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice (2010) by Kristen Jane Anderson, with Tricia Goyer, is a fascinating and hard to put down read. Kristen was an ordinary, happy girl until she hit her teenage years. A combination of tragedies, such as a friend’s suicide, acquaintance rape, and a family history of major depression, drives Kristen to try to take her own life. Hopelessness, however, slowly turns to hope due to her miraculous survival. Somehow the young woman is run over by a train and lives to tell the tale, her legs severed but otherwise her body intact. At first Kristen still wants to die, but people keep telling her that God spared her life for a reason. Kristen turns from a lukewarm believer in God to a Christian, and dedicates her life to helping other people through God.
The young woman’s story could possibly save lives and shows that everyone is put on Earth for a reason. The book isn’t overly preachy, and Kristen doesn’t consign all suicide victims to hellfire, which is commendable in itself. One might take umbrage, as the author of this review does, with a section in the book where her new preacher tells Kristen that she would not have gone to hell for killing herself, BUT she would have gone to hell for not being a Christian. We’re talking about a 17 year-old girl here, not quite an adult, and Jesus would have sent her to eternal damnation? One also might find that replacing her un-Christian friends completely, as she appears to have done, sort of wrong considering some some of her friends were loyal after her attempt on her life. This isn’t to say she should have continued with their ways, mind. Perhaps she didn’t abandon her friends, but it just wasn’t covered in the memoir? The criticisms though are only a minor sideline in the book in an otherwise excellent story of redemption.
Kristen’s story is told in simple, flowing prose appropriate for both teens and adults. The author doesn’t gloss over the events leading up to the suicide attempt, but she isn’t horrifyingly graphic about what she endured to the point of wanting to slam the book shut. One, however, feels her pain as she relates her feelings before and after her suicide attempt.
This book deserves four out of five stars and is ideal for those touched by depression or suicide, or those looking for a reason to live.
Disclaimer: The author of this review received this book in exchange for a review with no other compensation. Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group’s “Blogging for Books” program is at http://bloggingforbooks.org Got a blog? Get in the program. Free books!