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Rapture Practice Hardcover – April 9, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Hartzler grew up in an Evangelical Christian home, where he was taught that the Rapture might happen any minute. As he grew into his teen years, he began to question this belief and to be drawn to more worldly things-movies, rock music, plays, literature, and kissing. To a secular audience, Hartzler's parents' rules about whom he can befriend and how he can live his life may come across as draconian, but the author is open and fair about how they lived their beliefs and how they always loved him, even as their rules drove him away. Hartzler is honest about his sexual encounters with girls (and boys) and about underage drinking that happened at parties he attended. His memoir is appealing because of his honesty, and forthrightness. When writing about Evangelical Christians, he never takes on a condescending tone. He shows where his own questions led him, even as he shows how his parents saw things very differently than he did. His style is clear and lively, and he makes readers see how the questioning of his faith began, and how it grew. Readers will want to spend time with Hartzler to find out how he became true to himself and what choices he made on that journey.-Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Jesus is coming back. That’s what Aaron’s family believes, and as a boy, so does he. But by the end of this memoir, Aaron isn’t sure of much, other than he wants the freedom to be himself. Heartfelt and humorous, this book introduces Aaron; his strict but devoted parents; his grandmother, whose love is unconditional; and the classmates at his Christian schools, instrumental in shaping him. Hartzler writes with a keen eye for detail, whether it’s the early scene in which his grandfather crochets (while he makes pot holders) or the description of what it feels like to make out with a girl for the first time. He is equally sure-footed describing his inner turmoil as he does the opposite of what’s expected of him, all while maintaining the good-boy facade. One of the best things, however, is how lovingly Hartzler portrays his parents, even as they anger him. Aaron’s attraction to other boys is hinted at, but one has to read the acknowledgments to find out more. Readers will hope for a sequel to learn how his family dealt with the news of his sexuality. Grades 8-12. --Ilene Cooper
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (April 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031609465X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316094658
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #670,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I pre-ordered this book after reading an interview with the author a week or two before it was released. His situation seemed so similar to what I experienced growing up in the same general part of the country during the same general time period (our ages are less than five years apart), with parents who were very similar to the author's. When the ebook automatically and unexpectedly arrived at midnight on the April 9 release date, I thought I'd read a chapter or two before going to bed. Instead, I read about 150 pages, and have now finished the entire 390-page book in just two days.

The author's writing is spare and beautiful; very matter-of-fact yet strangely insightful. I also very much enjoyed his witty take on practices and beliefs that I recall very clearly from my childhood and adolescence. And I suspect that readers who don't share this common background will nevertheless find the book worthwhile and useful in understanding a certain way of living (or being raised) that is really quite odd and inexplicable.

My only complaint, and it's a slight one, is that the book ends too early in the author's life (high school graduation). I'd like to know how the story continues -- how the character at the end of the story became the author who could write this tender, reflective autobiography. So, the author should write a sequel. I'd also love to know what his parents think of the book (will they read it? discuss it with him?).
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Aaron Hartzler grew up in an extremely conservative Christian family that did not have a tv, go to movies or listen to music. Even contemporary Christian rock because "you can't mix God's words with the Devil's beat." However, as he gets older he begins to question these beliefs. He begins to love rock music because it makes him feel happy and he can't understand how that can be a sin. Aaron participates in church services, teaches Good News children's group, acts in his Christian private school 's elaborately staged dramas all the while questioning the logic of his parents' strongest held beliefs, but ultimately finding his own way to peace and understanding with his family. All this is presented in a humorous (I can't count how many times I laughed out loud.) and sincere way to become one of the best memoir of "finding religion" that I have ever read.

I also grew up in a religious Christian family and though my parents, thankfully, weren't so strict, I have often come into contact with people who believe in the ways of Aaron's parents and school administration. I could so identify with Aaron because his reaction to so much of what he saw in his life was my reaction. I often felt I was reading a more articulate version of my experience. The book is extremely well written for someone who doesn't have a background in writing (He's an actor and musician), but he manages to express so much of what I felt as a teenager in an engaging and intelligent way.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rapture Practice is a beautiful memoir that doesn't preach or force an agenda, but rather, let's the reader find their own nuggets of truth in the beautiful growth and struggle of a teen finding his true self between the lines of the future his family had already written for him.

Few books can make me run the gamut of emotions in one sitting, but this book did. I laughed, cried, and felt humiliation and anger right along with young Aaron. Maybe part of the reason this book resonates with me is because, in part, I lived many of these experiences. However, I think this story is universal.

It isn't just a story about growing up gay (in fact, that plays a very small role in the overall scheme of things) or growing up in a strict religious family/community. This is a story about discovering yourself, discovering you have your own mind, and your own desires and choices to make. It's also a story about discovering that your parents are very human and flawed, but that despite that, despite differences that may take us very far away from what our parents want for us...there can still be great love and affection and ultimately acceptance.
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Format: Hardcover
I learned, I laughed, I loved....and I wanted more! From page 1 until hours later when I closed the book after reading the final chapter, I was engaged! I can not tell you the last time I finished a book in one day, but there was no way I was putting this one down. Thank you Aaron Hartzler, not only for writing your story, but for writing a story of so many. I laughed out loud SO many times, but I also had silent tears fall while nodding in agreement as if reading from my own diary. Page after page, the stories were genuine... flowing with care and concern for each person. Rapture Practice is a true story with real questions, truthful answers, and a deep understanding of love... which I felt from the beginning until the end.
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