Philip YanceyConvergent Books / 2023 / Trade PaperbackOur Price$13.494 out of 5 stars for Where the Light Fell: A Memoir. View reviews of this product. 8 Reviews
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K Johnson5 Stars Out Of 5Autobiography of a life that endured trauma, a dysfunctional childhood, and poverty but was wooed by God's love and grace.May 30, 2022K JohnsonQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Philip Yancey shares his heart-wrenching life story of growing up in a hateful fundamentalist home and finding love and the grace of God while attending Bible college.
The book is mostly a chronological overview of Philip Yancey's life including a few details of his parents' story before he was born. His parents had married young and planned to be missionaries in Africa. When Philip was only a few months old, his 23-year-old father contracted polio and was put into an iron lung. Against doctors' advice, he was removed from the hospital and iron lung to be healed by faith, except he died instead. His mother dedicated Yancey and his 3-year-old brother to taking their parents' place someday as missionaries to Africa. In reality, what should have been a blessing became a curse on their childhood, life, and relationship with their mother.
Yancey's mother vowed not to remarry and earned little income teaching Bible lessons. She portrayed herself as an angel in church and Bible class settings but at home was harsh and filled with anger, impatience, and judgementalism. Nothing Yancey or his brother did was ever good enough for her.
They moved often throughout the Atlanta, GA region as they sought inexpensive housing. Each move meant a new school. Yancey and his brother handled life very differently from each other and were often adversaries. While his brother argued and fought his mom, Philip tended to stuff his emotions.
Eventually, Philip attended Bible college where he was quite rebellious until he had an encounter with God and also fell in love. He turned to a God full of grace, so different from the homelife he had experienced, and became a successful author, his writing often discussing grace and suffering. Sadly, his brother turned away from God and from their mother. He also suffered mental and health crises.
Yancey's life story is filled with trauma and tragedy. He has made efforts to seek reconciliation and continues to experience God's love and grace in his life. I recommend this book because he's so real and raw in telling his story and we all need to be reminded sometimes of God's incredible grace and love.
Lizdesigns23 Stars Out Of 5Moving, but Hard StoryDecember 23, 2021Lizdesigns2I heard Philip Yancey interviewed about this book, so I was excited to read it since I truly love a good memoir, and he has written some really good books. My personal favorite of his was "Pain: the Gift Nobody Wants," with Paul Brand, on the rare topic of the value of physical pain. His new memoir is very well written, and kept my interest. I feel sure writing it did him a huge amount of good. But the book was hard to read because it was so sad to imagine there was not a single non-toxic Christian in his entire childhood. I was beginning to despair until page 221, when there were finally some rays of hope. Well, there was actually the suggestion that God's grace was there, and he just wasn't seeing it. Maybe he could have put a few hints, foreshadowing, or dare I say, "spoilers" in the first 220 pages that in hindsight, God actually was there all the time. However, this was his story to tell, and he's made his living as a writer, so who am I to try to tell him how to write a better book?
It's a wonder that he became a Christian at all, and it was glorious to see how he finally came around. I would have loved to hear more about his life after he became a believer, but other than getting a great wife and becoming an author, all I learned about was the continuing tragic family dysfunction with his mother and brother. Maybe he will write a sequel. Or maybe he's already written other books with more emphasis on the past 50 years of his life. I decided this book might really help someone with a similar background, although I really don't know anyone with a truly similar background. And I am from the South, 10 years younger than him, but my imperfect Christian upbringing was almost nothing like his. I applaud him for working through this and accepting that there is not a neat tidy ending to his story so far. I've decided to pray for his mother and brother, as God is still at work in this story.
bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: Female3 Stars Out Of 5Yancey's history but no insights from themOctober 31, 2021bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: FemaleQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 2This memoir is, I think, a cathartic exercise for Yancey. It often seems to be a healing experience to recount the toxic events from youth and that is what Yancey does. He takes us up to the last of his elementary school years in the first half of the book. His father died of polio when Yancey was still a toddler so he was raised by a single mom. His memories include having pets, going to the dentist, sticking a raisin up his nose, sibling rivalry, antics during long sermons at a fundamental church, skipping a grade in elementary school, the Cold War, changing schools, southern stories, racist relatives, odd cousins, his mother unraveling, Bible camps and more.
Yancey then writes about high school, his fascination with science, breaking his bones repeatedly, self awareness and personality, attending a Bible college, having his first authentic spiritual experience, his older bother's spiritual crisis and later mental breakdown and drug habit, and graduate school and entering a career in writing.
Yancey does share a few thoughts on his life near the end of the book. He writes about suffering and grace. But the thrust of the book is Yancey's history alone. He writes in the Author's Note, "Looking back, I wanted to understand myself, as well as the environment that helped form me." (4430/4463) He did so, he says, the only way he knows how, by writing.
I am not sure of the benefit of this book to the readers. It is a good example of how one one man made it through toxic experiences with a mature faith while his brother did not. What is missing, however, is how Yancey did make it through to to being the Christian he is today. Perhaps he has shared that in other books he has written but he does not do so here. So, if you want to read an engaging account of Yancey's experiences, this is your book. If you want insights into surviving similar toxic experiences, you will have to look elsewhere.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
GramsAge: 55-65Gender: Female3 Stars Out Of 5Not a good fit for meOctober 7, 2021GramsAge: 55-65Gender: FemaleQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 3Philip Yancey is very open and candid about the darkness of his childhood. He describes in detail the impact the events surrounding his father's death and his mother's brand of fundamentalist Christianity impacted his and his brother's lives. He also describes how he came out on the other side. I imagine that the writing of this book was a bit cathartic. This is one book where I am certain the reader's reaction will largely depend on the lens through which they read it.
I appreciate Convergent Books providing me with a complimentary copy of Where the Light Fell via NetGalley without obligation. All opinions expressed here are my own.
mDavSeattle, WAAge: 35-44Gender: Female3 Stars Out Of 5Moving readOctober 5, 2021mDavSeattle, WAAge: 35-44Gender: FemaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4Spend any amount of time in the Christian book industry, and Philip Yancey's name will inevitably come up. "What's So Amazing about Grace?" in particular stands out to me as a book many have heard of, if not read (I'll admit I haven't read it either ... yet! It's on my radar to read this year, finally!).
I'll also admit I've not read anything else by Yancey, not just "WSAAG"; "Where the Light Fell" was probably not my best choice to start with as an "Intro to Yancey 101." It's absolutely insightful, painful at times, powerful throughout, and always bearing testimony to a God stronger than circumstances, family members, and life choices (good or bad). That testimony is my own biggest takeaway from the read.
It'll be interesting to read other Yancey books in the context or light of this one. I do feel it lends gravitas and merit/life experience to what I know of his books and message; he has known much hardship on many levels, and as we often see with the Christian life, that ends up being one of the most powerful things God uses to work in our lives and those around us.
I received an eARC of the book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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