The cover of the book, Life, In Spite of Me, is beautiful. A lovely young girl in the grass – the photographer must have caught her in the middle of carefree laughter. Her smile is gorgeous and radiant and hopeful. Look a little more carefully and you notice the wheelchair in the background and the smaller print underneath the title – “Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice.”
Life, In Spite of Me , co-written by Tricia Goyer, is Kristen Jane Anderson’s story of surviving a suicide attempt – an attempt that by all accounts should have been fatal. She survived, barely, but lost her legs after being run over by a train. The story of how God penetrated the sense of hopelessness she felt is powerful. In the years following, she has become a Christian and has started a fruitful ministry reaching out to young people struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, and other struggles. I have no doubt God will draw many to Himself through her testimony.
I’m conflicted about recommending the book. Kristen has experienced some fairly miraculous deliverance and healing. Despite a family history of depression and her own suicide attempt, she made the decision to take herself off both antidepressants and pain medication and credits her ability to remain medication free, to God. Again, I am thrilled for her and I do not doubt God had a role in those miracles. However, I think someone experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts could read this book and see God as the ticket to freedom from suffering, which is not the message of the gospel and isn’t something God promises us. I could easily see someone in pain turning to Christ for relief, finding they are still in pain, and rejecting Him.
Although Kristen makes it clear she became a Christian because she understood she needed Jesus because she was separated from God by sin, that message gets a bit lost. Because I think people who are really in need of Christ will turn to her story and to this book, I wish that had come out more clearly.
That being said, I love how God used the body of Christ in her story. The people who came around her after her suicide attempt are shining examples of God using His body to bring comfort, direction, truth, and support to the world. I hope people who read the book will find the same love and support.
To sum up, I’m thankful Kristen is alive. I praise God with her for the glory she is giving Him in this chapter of her life. I do believe He miraculously saved her physically and spiritually. My concerns over the content stem really from a more general concern that we are flooding our Christian community with these kinds of stories to the extent that it may seem as if the gospel is only for the broken or for people who are seeking relief. The gospel is for the sinner – which is every single one of us – weak, strong, broken, confident, slave, or free.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as part of a “Blogging for Books” program. If you are interested in blogging for books, click here.