cover image My Utmost: A Devotional Memoir

My Utmost: A Devotional Memoir

Macy Halford. Knopf, $25.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-307-95798-6

In her debut, Halford, a copy editor at the New Yorker, weaves the story of her young adulthood with the history of the popular daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest, which she, her mother, and her grandmother have all incorporated into their spiritual practices. The devotional, assembled from the writings of Scottish preacher Oswald Chambers (1874–1915), was edited and published posthumously by his wife, Biddy, and has remained in print ever since. Halford recounts her quest to learn more about Chambers’s life, faith, and writings, adding her reflections on what the book has meant in her own life. An evangelical raised in the Southern Baptist tradition, Halford attended Barnard College and has worked for many years at the New Yorker—a life far removed from the modern American Evangelical subculture. Chambers’s life and legacy, along with Halford’s own personal journey, prove to be a powerful lens through which to examine the roots of fundamentalist evangelicalism and its rocky relationship with the modern world. Although the book is first and foremost a memoir, neither a full biography of Chambers nor a history of modern evangelicalism, those interested in either topic will appreciate the “Further Reading” essay and select bibliography at the end of the work. Halford’s enlightening memoir is a must-read for those interested in My Utmost for His Highest or evangelicalism in the 21st century. Agent: Zoe Pagnamenta, Zoe Pagnamenta Literary. (Feb.)