on April 1, 2008
I read REDEEMED all the way home on a flight from Alabama, and it was a book I hated to see end...I could pick it up and read it all over again. Reading Heather King's words is like having coffee with a best friend who listens, makes you laugh, think, and hope again. Her honesty is real and alive - and so her is capacity for joy and forgiveness. Her words make a person want to be better - to live better and more fully. I cannot recommend REDEEMED highly enough. It is a beautiful beautiful book of honesty and painful hilarity from husbands to sisters to awful people at work. It's just great. It even makes me want to forgive my idiot neighbor and his barking dogs and maybe even go back to church. I am very grateful that Heather King's books are in the world.
I truly loved Heather King's new book, which was fun, funny, and touching all at the same time. I haven't been back to church in years but it made me want to go too. Just to experience community the way the author does, imperfectly, struggling, with love and humor and authenticity all bundled up together.
This book is also about being a writer, an alcoholic, and a human being. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone. I would especially recommend it to those readers who are looking to have a less negative view of Christianity (this is me) and who want to read about faith from a gritty, grounded, and grace-based perspective.
It made me laugh and the beauty of the writing had me highlighting passages to refer back to later. It's an honest and real book about just being alive.
on August 6, 2008
Heather King's book is a gem for anybody looking for grace in their own lives. I am a cradle Catholic and to read about Heather's embrace of Catholicism and reverence for its attitude towards life and mystery was truly refreshing. She shares her own story, struggles, obsessions, and insights with her readers. After reading her book, I felt more connected, understood, and whole as a person and as a Catholic. Heather has a tremendous gift of radical honesty and an eye for humor in what seem to be dark situations. She has an intuition for grace and a wonderfully poetic way of seeing daily life and expressing its beauty. Redeemed is a wonderful book in which I found part of myself and part of God.
on July 16, 2008
I think what makes this book such a rare gem is that it almost seems like two completely different types of books, or genres, eloquently and unapologetically mixed into one. Most simply put it is a women's story of the almost accidental discovery of her faith or relationship with God. However, it is such an honest and hilarious account of her journey that you find yourself routing for her the way you do some kind of great anti-hero protagonist from your favorite novel instead of just reading a memoir. Most spiritual books take themselves seriously, but when Heather King finds God (and naturally herself as well in the process) she finds him while making dry, witty, sarcastic remarks under her breath. She not only admits to being lost but celebrates it with grace in a way that only someone who has done their spiritual homework can. Long story short, it's just as funny and serious and engrossing as the last best novel you read, but when you finish it the book sticks with you and as a result, your own faith that maybe there is hope for the rest of us is restored a little.
on July 13, 2008
Something all lapsed Catholics love to do at any opportunity is to slam the church, and anything dimly related to it. We have a kind of secret club.....and anyone can belong..... particularly if you went to Catholic school and ever had a nun or priest smack you or send you to the 'cloak room' to sit out a punishment for some trivial childhood offense. So it was with hesitation that I started reading Heather King's new book 'Redeemed'. I'd loved 'Parched', and consider her a brilliant writer, but this was going a bit far. Clearly this new book wouldn't contain the zany antics of a drunk Heather King, clawing her way through a haze of booze-soaked misadventures to ultimately sober up and become the funny sensitive woman I came to love in the first book. I must say though, this book is probably the only secular religious tome ever written. I don't know how King managed to convince me so gracefully that she had found in Catholicism another level of spiritual peace very much like her previous miracle of sobriety. I guess that's what really grabbed me about this book. It's all about miracles. Now, THERE'S something I can sink my teeth into! Catholic, Jew, Hindu, Atheist, Anyone....will relate to this very human phenonenon of finding something larger than themselves to lend purpose and freedom to a life that would be rather empty without it. Loved the book....you will too.
on July 19, 2008
I loved King's first book, Parched, which documented her upbringing in a puritanical New England town, her young adult descent into alcoholism, and her struggle back to the light - literally, because this woman spent serious time in some of the darkest dives in Boston. Sounds depressing, but it isn't, because King's writing is filled with a rare hilarity and humility that make the book a joy to read.
In Redeemed, the reader gets to join King as she relocates to Los Angeles, specifically Koreatown, about as far as she could get from those cold and austere beginnings. As she struggles to make sense of her life, her career (a lawyer!), her marriage, and her physical and mental health, she finds a faith that grips her - and the reader - to the core. The contrast is both obvious and profound between the empty cross of her childhood church and the Catholic depiction of Christ on the cross, with wounded suffering on full display. Here King finds her home and her salvation, and we are all richer for sharing the ride. Highly recommended.
on August 2, 2013
Ms. King's book "Redeemed" knocked my socks off. Her writing is powerful, honest, and often hilarious. And, boy oh boy, there is no B.S.
Although I was blessed to have been born with non-alcoholic genes (I inherited my father's tendency to have a drink and then just want to sleep), there are many other ways to be addicted. And our society supports - even encourages - many of them. So whether it's shopping, going to the casino, drinking, smoking, sex, relationships, staying glued to the cell phone, swearing or being hung up on who you think you are, breaking out of addiction is a formidable feat. Ms. King not only breaks free from alcoholism, but isn't afraid to ask the really tough searching questions that we avoid through our addictions. Why do I never seem to fit in? Does everyone else feel alone all the time? Why do I hate my job, even though most people would give their eye teeth to do this work and get paid this money?
In a sense I'm not sure I should even be writing a review of this book, because I had the distinct feeling as I was reading it that I was talking to myself. There are times in life when you feel you have come face to face (or face to page) with a kindred spirit. This book hit me like a lead balloon. I also converted to Catholicism. I also have a wonderful spiritual director. I have asked the questions..............
Which is one, but only one, reason why I love this book. Ms. King has "come out of the closet" in the most honest way. She is not afraid to lay out her mistakes, foibles and lousy judgments. She is not afraid to share her neuroses. She is not cowed by the cultural icons who tell us "I'm really smart and superior, so I'm going to analyze for you peons why God is your needy little fantasy." She just tells it like it is. She has a wonderful gift for wit, words and writing, and so can convey the thoughts and feelings that many of us experience and cannot voice anywhere near as eloquently. She is a person who has stumbled upon the person God made her to be and has lived to tell about it. And I loved reading it!
on July 21, 2008
This is one of those books that came along just when I needed it. Heather King has a wonderful ability to make you laugh and think and just quiet down long enough to really hear someone else's perspective. You don't need to share her beliefs to be enriched by the honesty, humor and bravery, not to mention the beauty, of her writing. I've loved reading both of Heather's books, and I can't wait for more.
on July 13, 2008
I really loved this book. I picked it up because I caught a reading when the book came out and was interested. I had also heard Heather's commentaries on NPR and liked them. I love memoir and I'm particularly interested in how people work out the dilemmas of a spiritual life, so this book was right up my alley. I found it smart and funny and occasionally deeply, deeply moving. In fact, it contains one of the single most moving scenes of almost any book I've ever read.
I'm not sure how I would react if I were a Catholic or "lapsed" Catholic or "recovering" Catholic, as the varieties go. But I did grow up Baptist, so I understand the pull of the church and also what can be so repugnant about it. I was fascinated at the author's absolute devotion to her church and complete lack of quarrel with it. (She takes transubstantiation at face value! As an ex-grape-juice-and-crackers-Baptist, that is so incredible to me.)
It's also clear that she understands what some people find objectionable about the Church. Indeed, I think she probably would quarrel with some of it herself if she hadn't made the conscious choice to put down the fight. I found that very refreshing and intriguing. Admirable, even. Which is not to say that I didn't argue with her at various points in the book, because I certainly have disagreements with her take on some things. But I like how steadfast and, well, faithful her faith is.
Finally, it's all delivered with a light hand, and a healthy dose of self-deprecating good humor. Definitely worth reading.
on July 13, 2008
When I read Heather's book, I found myself looking forward to each chapter as I used to look forward to my first cocktail. Thank God there's no hangover, just the lovely anticipation of reading what comes next. And yet, I found myself grounded in each chapter as if I was watching over her shoulder as she emerged into sobriety, lived through marriage and divorce, and converted to Catholocism. I particularly loved how she found joy in a job that bordered on menial, it seemed to lay the groundwork for a stance of openness and humility through which she embraces a spiritual system which fills her with a sense of grace, an ability to apprise suffering and joy as indispensable to each other. The book takes such subjects seriously, but the author never takes herself too much so, it is perfect in its imperfections. And always funny. I dare the most rabid anti-cleric to feel alienated by the book. You just can't--it is infused with charm from beginning to end, but also with a Wildean appreciation for the nexus of art and spirituality.