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I'm Perfect, You're Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah's Witness Upbringing Hardcover – March 3, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Abrahams was growing up, her world was neatly divided between those who would live forever in a paradise on earth and all the "worldly" people her Jehovah's Witness family prayed for. Her congregation forbade Christmas and Halloween, aggressively shunned anyone who left the fold and taught children that birthday parties were of the devil. For kicks in her early teens, Abrahams would go witnessing door-to-door with her pal Lisa, a die-hard J-Dub. This acerbic, witty memoir chronicles the first 23 years of Abraham's life with candor and a good dose of comedy. Unlike other memoirs written by the disenchanted, Abrahams musters some affection for her decent but screwed-up family, and even for the religion itself. Where the story hits a rough patch is in her account of her late teens and early 20s, when she dropped out of high school; rushed into a disastrous teen marriage; fell into alcohol, drugs and adultery; and finally "fired Jehovah as [her] personal bodyguard" and became an apostate divorcée. None of this is particularly funny, and Abrahams's tale of self-destruction ends abruptly enough that readers will wonder how she managed to pull herself together. (Mar. 3)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Given that Abrahams is now a stand-up comic and spoken-word poet, it makes perfect sense to begin her very funny memoir with her performance debut at the Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Kingdom Hall, at age 8 (her presentation was about freedom from demon possession). She describes the children’s books she read as a child as a cross between “Dr. Seuss rhymes and tales of how sinners would scream and gnash their teeth at Armageddon.” In her world, Smurfs were “little blue demons” and yard sales were enticements from Satan. As a bored teenager with OCD, she didn’t know what to do with herself or how to make sense of the world. On the verge of 18, she married a 24-year-old part-time college math teacher because, even if his interest in her was, at best, halfhearted, she wanted a boyfriend and didn’t know any other Jehovah’s Witnesses who liked her. Anyway, she reasons, “this is what adults did, and I was an adult.” It wasn’t long before she longed to be out of the marriage. Between threats of suicide, she tried to be “disfellowshipped,” or shunned, by her congregation, which proved surprisingly difficult to accomplish. Abrahams is a natural writer whose prose flows effortlessly as she easily mixes throwaway humor and painful memories in a compelling narrative. --June Sawyers

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416556842
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416556848
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #905,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
this book made me deeply sad while at the same time deeply comforted..
unlike the author i wasn't raised from birth as a witness but i spent a little more than 20 years as one.. from about 14 to 35 years of age.. my expierence differs in some aspects but what is consistent in all former witness stories is that upon deciding you no longer want to remain a witness (regardless of your reason) you cease to exist to those you formerly called family.. poof! you're gone from their lives.. those who once loved you no longer speak to you.. you are cut off as if you had died.. except you havnt.. you are alive and well and maybe, just maybe, a better person.. but that doesn't matter..
as my aunt who raised me from 14 years of age said "it would be a compromise of my faith to continue to speak to you"..
if i returned to the fold all would be forgiven but barring that she could no longer have anything to do with me.. and she hasn't..
i cried with sadness and relief when i read the last paragraph of this book:
"these worldly, godless poets had loaned me money when i hadn't asked for it and had given me a place to stay.. when the people i had known for 23 years stopped talking to me, the people i had known for 23 days helped me move"
this was my expierence as well.. when my family completely turned away from me it was a "wordly family" who took me in.. they never asked where i came from or why i was alone in the world.. they just took me in and loved me as if i were one of them.. amazing..
the author does a beautiful job of laying bare her tormented soul while a witness and then the difficulties of trying to fit into a world she knows absolutely nothing about.. the real world.. its a mysterious place to those of us raised in a closeted society like J.W's..
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Kyria Abrahams' I'm Perfect, Your Doomed, is a hilarious look at her youth as a Jehovah's Witness. With impeccable wit, she explores the precepts of the religion, as well as what her childhood was like immersed in it. At first, she doesn't question anything, and wants to obey every single rule because that's all she's known. It's clear from the first few chapters that part of being a Jehovah's Witness is about only associating with other Jehovah's Witnesses.

She takes us on a tour of the kinds of people she grew up with as part of her worship, seemingly full of eccentrics. Of one man, whom the congregation strongly suspected was gay, she writes, "We all know I'm sublimating my true sexuality, he seemed to be saying, so let's at least have a laugh about it. Also, I am dying inside." Sex, in fact, proves to be what ultimately gets her disfellowshipped; she has an affair, but when she tells her husband, he wants her to stay. She's young, alone, and has turned to cutting and alcoholism, neither a happy topic, but both she manages to use her humor to cut through what could be a very sad story. In this way, Abrahams manages to mock herself and her situation, while making for an engaging story. She winds up finding herself within the slam poetry scene, full of its own eccentrics, but of a different sort. The gap between her former life and her poetry one is powerful, and she makes it clear that she's struggling (not stumbling, the Jehovah's Witness term for causing someone to falter from their faith) with who she really is, outside the confines of what she's known her whole life.

Abrahams takes us inside her life as a Jehovah's Witness, from going door to door to recognizing, as she gets older, just how different she is from her peers.
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Format: Hardcover
Kyria Abrahams was born and raised as a Jehovah's Witness. For anyone familiar with the religion, her upbringing was fairly normal. She was not allowed to celebrate birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any other holiday. She was also raised "knowing" that Christ's new way of things was on it's way and that the world was going to end at any time. Until her disfellowship she didn't think that she could survive without the hand of Jesus guiding her. This book takes an almost cynical look at her life. It also is complete with a glossary of common Jehovah's Witness terms the rest of us may not be familiar with.

I think the book was great. I lived part of my life with my grandmother and aunt who were Jehovah's Witnesses. Many of the things Kyria talked about in her book brought back some memories that I had all but forgotten. It was like I was taking a weird walk down memory lane. I think this was a great look at what life is like as a Witness, granted I had some "insider knowledge". Mrs. Abrahams uses wit and humor to explain some drastic events in her life. I loved the story, liked the writing, and I really connected with the characters. Overall it was a very good story!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a former Jehovah's Witness who has read nearly every memoir that has been published by a former JW, I have to say that this book is my favorite. Ms. Abrahams captures not only the facts about life as a young JW, but also the mood and feelings that accompany that life. It's a fact that the majority of young people raised as Jehovah's Witnesses do not remain with the movement, and this book shows why that is the case. The incredible legalism, the endless rules, the constant busybodying make life unbearable for any Witness who doesn't devote every waking second to the organization or who dares in the least to bend the rules. I laughed and cried reading this book, because it is so on target with my own experience and that of others whom I knew. In this touching and hilarious memoir, Ms. Abrahams brings to life the JW experience as only someone who has lived it could. I highly recommend this work to anyone who is interested in the inner world of Jehovah's Witnesses, and especially to anyone who is thinking of becoming involved with that group. Forewarned is forearmed.
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