Where the Light Fell
Christian writer Yancey (What’s So Amazing About Grace?
) excavates his roots in the fundamentalist South in the 1950s and ’60s in this gripping memoir. Yancey was a year old when his preacher father died of polio after asking to be removed from treatment, expecting faith would heal him. Left alone with two toddlers, Yancey’s mother made her way as a Bible teacher who was well-regarded by her students but increasingly feared by her two young sons for her temper and her punishments. As Yancey entered his teens he saw himself as “born and bred a racist” and began to slowly unlearn the “Lost Cause myth” while questioning his fundamentalist church community: “A growing part of me resists the image of a red-neck fundamentalist.” During the social and political tumult of the ’60s, Yancey’s older brother, Marshall, became a hippie and was estranged from their mother, forcing Yancey to confront his growing inner turmoil. He goes on to describe a religious awakening at Bible college, where he also met the woman who would become his wife. Yancey’s eloquent descriptions of coming to faith and his exacting self-examination make this a standout. Exploring the corrosive role of fear in faith, Yancey’s piercing and painful account invites comparison to Hillbilly Elegy