Monday, March 7, 2011

Book review for Life in Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice

Life, In Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice

      Life in Spite of Me is a riveting account of one young girl's incredible journey from the jaws of death to another chance at life.

Kristen Anderson grew up your typical all-American kid. Her family attended traditional church. She considered herself a good person. As she was soon to find out, being a good person or attending church wasn't enough to help her withstand life's trials. The first strike against her (maybe the first two?) was that her father's family had a history of depression. Her grandmother suffered from it and her father suffered from it. As Kristen entered adolescence it soon became apparent that she, too, would be battling those “black demons” that sit on our shoulders and whisper futile thoughts into our ears. All it took were a few triggers. These triggers came in the form of the death of her grandmother and the death by suicide of a dear friend.

These two losses in her young life were were hard for Kristen to cope with. She couldn't stop brooding over them. Especially the suicide of her friend. Over and over she questioned, “Why did he do it?”

Then, one night at a party, Kristen found herself alone with an older man. Taking advantage of Kristen's youth and their solitude, he raped her. Not date rape. Not statutory rape. He forced himself on her like a thug in a back alley.

Kristen told no one about this. She blamed herself or tried to persuade herself that it was consensual. When this man later called her up and threatened her if she called the police, she shut down completely. Any feeling of self-worth or control over her life vanished. From that time forward Kristen's descent into black depression was complete.

Her family and friends saw things were wrong. They attributed it to defiance, rebelliousness, teenage angst, depression that needed medication. The psychiatrist, listened long enough to label and medicate her. When she glared at him in frustration, he called her a defiant brat who would end up working at McDonald's for the rest of her life.

So one night, on the way home from a party that her parents had forbidden her to go to, Kristen finally succumbed to the overwhelming sense of uselessness, guilt, and oppression. She wanted to release herself from a misery that wouldn't let her go.

In the distance she heard an approaching train.  She walked up to the nearby railroad, lay across the tracks and waited.

She lay there listening to all thirty-three freight train cars running over her body at fifty-five miles per hour. Afterward, she was still alive.

When she looked up, she could see her legs lying far away on the other side of the tracks.

I know. Pretty big introduction. But the most exciting part of the book just begins. Kristen then relates to the reader her hard, physical and spiritual trek up a steep mountain. A rough one that she had to, figuratively speaking, rock climb legless.

Bit by bit Kristen starts a new life. One without legs. Still battling depression, still medicated-only now she has to take drugs for physical as well as mental pain.

One day at church, a lady she didn't know or had seen before approached her. “You're lucky you're alive.” She said. “Otherwise you'd be in hell.”

Stunned, Kristen sought her family for reassurance. Oh no. They all quickly rallied. You'd have gone to heaven. You're a good person.

Was she?

The brief exchange with someone she had never seen before or since was the turning point for Kristen. The more she thought about it the more she wondered. This led to her truly surrendering her life to Jesus Christ and thus embarking on her new spiritual life.

I believe God works everything together for the good of those who love him.(pg136)

The rest of the book is Kristen's journey toward the one who saved her life on the train tracks. Not only did Kristen learn to forgive, she slowly learned to live life without anti-depressants or pain killers. Instead,she learned to live with joy, peace and a life that had meaning through the One who wanted all along to live with her and show her that He had a clear purpose for her life. She had to lose her legs before she started to truly live with, and for, Him.

This book is for those who battle depression, suicidal thoughts and need to know the One who loves them so much that He came to die so they could live.
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.
If you buy the book through my blog, I get a small percentage back, thanks!

Please take the time to rank my review, thanks!!


  1. I want this one! I love people stories!

  2. It's definitely worth getting. If you buy it, please do so through my blog (click on the Amazon button at the bottom of the post). I get a small percentage it:)
    Thanks for ranking my review!

  3. wow wow wow wow.....This was an incredibly exciting and full-of-hope review.
    I wonder how old this young lady is now and if she finally filed charges against the man who raped her. His deeds need to be brought into the light, too. I suspect there are so many young women who have been sexually abused and will not talk about it, or have tried and were not taken seriously. I'm so glad that this has a very good ending...or rather, new beginning.

  4. Phyllis: I was wondering the same thing about the man. I wish she had included that in the book. Kristen is only in her twenties. The book is very recent.
    It also opened my eyes to kids who seem like they have an "attitude" that there might be something more serious going on.

  5. Hi Sharon,

    First, thank you for joining me at Create With Joy. I'm delighted to follow you back and look forward to getting to know you! :-)

    Second, what an amazing story this sounds like! This is definitely a book I would read - and I am looking forward to perusing more of your blog and reviews in the near future!

    Have a fabulous week!


  6. Ramona, Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to reading future posts on your site as well. Take care!

  7. I ordered the book from your blog. It seems like the book I need to read at the moment. Thank you Sharon for the review. Also thanks for the kind comments you made on my blog. They meant a lot.

  8. Adrienne, Thanks for visiting! I know you will enjoy the book. Look forward to reading your future posts as well. Blessings, Sharon

  9. Sounds like an incredible story of courage. Great review.

  10. Thanks, Linda. This girl is pretty amazing.

  11. This sounds like a pretty intense book:) Thanks for linking up to the NOBH

  12. (comment by Kay M who can't figure out how to post in my own name)
    If the book is as gripping as your review, I can see why you read it so quickly! I was challenged by the brief exchange with the woman at church that changed the author's life. How often I feel like I can't be an influence in someone's life if I can't have a long-term discipling relationship. God works in many different ways if we allow Him to use us.

  13. Kay: I'm glad you liked that part. I know many people would disapprove because it's so "judgmental" to tell someone they might be going to hell. In this case it is what caused Kristen to truly evaluate her spiritual life and ultimately led to her salvation.

  14. @ The Adventurer: It is intense. I read it in two days because I couldn't put it down. Thanks for visiting I'll visit back!

  15. What a powerful story, Sharon! For some of these books I wish bloggers like you could just share the story in installments . . . but then the author wouldn't make any money. I'll have to put this on my wish list!

  16. wow-this woman has gone through a lot in her life-she sounds very courageous and inspiring. one thing though-there are some people who would also like to battle depression, etc without meds but can not and that's ok too. everyone needs to do what is right for them to give them the best possible life.

  17. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and following me - I'm now following you as well!

    What an excellent review of what sounds like an excellent book - I think I'll have to get that one! (through your link, of course...*wink!*)

    Aloha: Weather

  18. I think I'm gently mad too. Thanks for visiting me today:) Following you back !

  19. @ReneeAnn: Hmm I never thought about installments. I'll have to look into that. Thanks for visiting.
    @Dawn: I completely agree with you. It's like any other condition, like diabetes or epilepsy. Some are able to go off the medicine, some will have to take it for the rest of their life to function. Thanks for visiting.
    @ Stacy: I'm glad you liked it. I'd appreciate it if you did buy it through my link (wink back:)
    BWH: Oh We're ALL Gently Mad!!! Thanks for visiting.

  20. stopping by from the blog hop. i also review Christian fiction/nonfiction

  21. RBClibrary: Thanks for visiting. I'll visit back.

  22. Hi, I am visiting from the blog hop. I enjoyed reading your review and I am intrigued to find out how she was able to turn her life around.
    Have a blessed weekend,

  23. Too many people today think if someone just loves you surely you will go to heaven. There a tough answers out there. What a heart-rending story - as a parent, the first part just breaks my heart.

  24. Shawn, thanks for visiting. You'd enjoy the book. I'll be visiting back.

  25. BCM: Excellent point. I'm with you. I don't know what I'd do if that happened to my son.

  26. It sounds like a great reminder to take a second look at people who seem angry or frustrated--there are likely all sorts of underlying reasons! She sounds like a transformed woman!

    Thank you so much for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party! :)

  27. It's truly an inspiring story. Thanks for visiting.

  28. I love biographies and couldn't resist reading this review. Your review was fascinating - what an amazing story! Your review alone was very thought-provoking. I can see why you read the book so fast! I'm your newest follower from Follow Friday 40 and Over. Deb @

  29. Deb: Thanks for visiting. The story is amazing. Have a great weekend.


I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.