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When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over Paperback – October 15, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Convergent Books; Reprint edition (October 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601425457
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601425454
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,431 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for When We Were on Fire

“Fire provides light and warmth, or it can bring pain and destruction. Addie tells us a story in which her fiery faith sparked both outcomes and how she’s worked to contain those flames. She walks the reader through this process with such grace, humor, and utter transparency that I couldn’t help but see my own faith journey in hers. A refreshing, hopeful book from an expert storyteller.”
—Jason Boyett, author of O Me of Little Faith

“Addie Zierman’s unflinching candor and tender vulnerability make When We Were on Fire a must-read memoir. I ached for the wholesome, eager young girl seeking to serve God with all her heart, and wept for her—for all of us—who have experienced that particular keening heartbreak of being consumed by zeal. Addie walks through fire and still comes through shining with hope.”
—Elizabeth Esther, author of Girl at the End of the World

“Addie Zierman is a poet with a lion’s heart. When We Were on Fire is a memoir of such sophisticated and witty grace, it reads as the laughing prayer of a vagabond saint. Zierman’s words take root in you, grow slowly, and push outward into a ring of endless light. Would that in my own days of fire, youth groups, and See You at the Pole rallies, I had been given this book with the single word: ‘Hope.’”
—Preston Yancey, author of SeePrestonBlog.com

“Addie speaks for an evangelical generation who came of age in the American teen ghetto of youth group short-term mission trips and longings for revival, contemporary Christian music, and WWJD. Her journey through the disillusionments and then her rebellion against the false boundary-markers and empty language of an “on fire” faith culminate in her ongoing journey of hope and redemption. There is a wise sadness to her words, a depth that disarms. Addie is a beautiful writer, but she’s also bold and honest as she tends the wounds of consumer evangelicalism on her old self, and then bravely gathers up all these disparate pieces of the painful and lovely obsessive faith of her past with new grace and gentle strength to move forward.”
—Sarah Bessey, author of Jesus Feminist

“For all of us who found our way while steeped in evangelical culture, Addie has written us a love letter. Hilarious and heartfelt, passionate and poetic, her take on growing up evangelical reveals a classic coming-of-age story with an evangelical twist. Through clean and messy faith, confusion, love lost and gained, she reflects deeply on each experience with enough humility and humor to keep you turning pages through this easy and beautiful read. You will love When We Were on Fire from beginning to end, as did I.”
—Grace Biskie, author of Converge Bible Studies: Kingdom Building, contributing author of Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith, and writer for DeeperStory.com and Prodigal & Prism magazine

“Reading When We Were on Fire was like reading my own story. It’s an insightful, unflinching look at growing up evangelical. Addie recounts her misplaced zeal and resulting crisis of faith with humor and poignancy…ultimately discovering that a relationship with God is less about following Christian culture norms and more about following Him.”
—Kristen Howerton, blogger at Rage Against the Minivan, and psychology professor at Vanguard University
“It’s rare that a storyteller comes along with the ability to address important issues of life and faith with strength and profound openness. Addie Zierman is that kind of storyteller, and she does just that with her debut book When We Were on Fire. With a keen grasp on the intricacies and absurdities of Christian subculture, Addie bravely tells her story of a real, honest, and vulnerable faith that will resonate with readers of all ages. When We Were on Fire is a true pleasure to read.”
—Nish Weiseth, author of Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World, and editor-in-chief at DeeperStory.com

“Addie Zierman is a master storyteller whose sharp wit is matched only by her disarming sincerity. When We Were on Fire introduces her as one of this generation’s most promising new voices. Prepare to laugh out loud and nod along as this book delights, challenges, tickles, and inspires. For those of us working to reconcile the faith of our youth with the faith of our adulthood, it’s such a joy to have a friend like Addie along for the journey.”
—Rachel Held Evans, author of Evolving in Monkey Town and A Year of Biblical Womanhood

“The best kind of memoir is so deeply personal that it tells a universal story. In Addie’s memoir you will find funny, messy, cringe-worthy, and beautiful moments that cut close to home—those experiences that we would like to relegate to youth but in truth lurk not far beneath the surface of every phase of life. If you are weary of sanitized and teetotaling stories, and are hungry for honest and redemptive stories, then this is your story.”
—Adam S. McHugh, author of Introverts in the Church

About the Author

Addie Zierman is a writer, blogger and recovering Jesus freak. She studied creative nonfiction at Hamline University and received her MFA there in 2010. Addie blogs regularly at www.AddieZierman.com where she’s working to redefine her faith one cliché at a time. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband, Andrew, and their two young sons.

More About the Author

Addie Zierman is a writer, blogger and fledgling speaker.

She has an MFA from Hamline University and is the author of When We Were On Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love and Starting Over, due out through Convergent Books on October 15, 2013.

She blogs at addiezierman.com, where she's doing the hard work of redefining faith in a world that is significantly less black and white than she once believed it to be.

Addie is a Diet Coke enthusiast with terrible taste in TV and an endless pile of Books-To-Read. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, Andrew, and her two young sons (Dane and Liam).

If you see her out, please don't say anything about the streak of snot on her shirt or All The Yelling. It will only embarrass her.

Customer Reviews

Addie's writing is beautiful.
Leigh Kramer
If you want to know the truth, well, I kind of couldn't stop reading this book, because it just completely resonates with me and my wandering-soul right now.
Sarah Elizabeth
Addie’s story is one of hope, love, hurt, pain, confusion, and reconciliation.
Built By Story

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Colleen Schwenger on November 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Okay, so it's hard to review a memoir. After all, you're basically assigning stars to someone's life experience, which doesn't seem fair.It's also hard to review this book without debating the subject matter. I have a feeling I am going to get a lot of negative/hateful comments about this review, but here goes:

The book was really interesting. It's well written, lyrical and poetic without getting tedious. It held my attention and kept me up reading late at night, wanting to know what happened. Part of the reason for that is the similarities between my own life and Addie's. From the dates given in the book, I figure I am about a year older than she is. We listened to the same Christian bands, attended See You at the Pole, grew up in Sunday School and attended conservative Christian colleges. My experience was actually a little more uptight than hers. I went to a church and Christian school that believed women should only wear skirts. You were never, ever to drink alcohol, dancing was forbidden, and even going to the movies was frowned upon. In college, I got demerits for not making my bed. On Saturday. I wore my True Love Waits ring, Kissed Dating Goodbye, and was strung along dating-but-not-really-dating a "missionary boy" all through high school. Like Addie's romance, he criticized my walk with God and told me what I should and shouldn't be doing.

All that to say, I KNOW exactly where she is coming from. I was there. This was almost my life story. Almost.

At first I was kinda laughing/commiserating with the shared experiences. As an adult, I have to shake my head at some of the man-made church rules. But then, the book takes a really self-indulgent turn. Addie starts struggling with adult life, as we all do.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Diana Trautwein on October 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
Why is it, I wonder, that the church, and so many of its subsidiary organizations, get and give such a garbled message? We too often complicate the beautiful simplicity of the gospel of grace, add on layers of dogma that were never part of the design, and insist that others see the same rigid, box-like faith that we see. There's a lot of un-learning that needs to happen for many, if not most of us, who were raised within the confines of an overly conservative, mistakenly zealous version of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Addie Zierman has been a lyrical voice for that re-learning for a couple of years now. Her blog, "How to Talk Evangelical" has been on my top 10 list for about as long as she's been writing on it. And her book is, in many ways, an extension of what you find in that lovely space.

It is also more. This is a memoir, a spiritual memoir. But it is also a story of love gone wrong, a sad tale of how "Christian" relationships can sometimes slip into abuse, and how hard it is to recover from the garbage theology we too often absorb in our `on fire' years.

Slipping between 2nd and 3rd person narrative, Addie tells a beautiful but painful story. She writes movingly of adolescent earnestness, life-long friendships, moving into a healthy relationship, then fighting to save it as depression and churchianity take their inevitable toll.

She speaks honestly about using alcohol to numb the pain, about stepping into therapy and finding Jesus there, about her frustrating search to be at home in community.

Addie's story is not my story, but there are pieces of it that I know. Something about my own family system made me wary of catch-phrases, excessive cheeriness and simplistic recipes for anything.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Leigh Kramer on October 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
When We Were On Fire is stunningly crafted and full of grace. Our stories aren't exactly the same but Addie Zierman and I both grew up in the evangelical subculture and we've both struggled to find our place in the church since then. Her words were a balm time and again. You could take the same subculture and string together words that wound. Yet there are no bad guys here. There are mistakes- theirs, hers, ours- and there is redemption. There are things that could have been done better. There are root issues and hurts that fester but there's also hope and healing.

This is real life and it's reflected throughout the memoir. It's gritty and sometimes the language is salty. (This made me fall in love with Convergent.) Who among us hasn't experienced the power of a well placed curse word? Who hasn't recoiled from a sugar-coated platitude or whitewashed advice? By naming and honoring the dark parts, we let the light in. Addie's writing is nothing but authentic and perhaps that's why it resonated so strongly with me.

Addie's writing is beautiful. Her story is stunning. The connections and insights this one book contains amazes me. Easily a favorite read of 2013.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John L. Fleming on November 28, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just couldn't relate to this book, being male and coming into the faith well into my 20's. If you were in the youth culture of the Evangelical Christian faith, I've no doubt this book would hold your interest. It's well written and humorous and, frankly, a bit frightening: The indoctrination of youth into "the fold" is not unlike what they do with the kids in countries such as North Korea. The good news, I guess, is you do come to know God, and you can sort out the BS when you get older. I'm glad for my parent's faith (Catholic) and, while I describe myself as non-denominational Christian, I never would have gotten to this point in my belief system, without the foundation they gave me. To get the most out of this read, you really would have to have experienced what Ms. Zierman did.
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