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Out of Sorts :: Sarah Bessey

Sometimes you’ve just got to embrace being a big happy dork


Well. Here we are, eh? After a year of dreaming and then a year of writing, and now a few long months of edits and planning and marketing, it’s finally time: Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith has now been released into the big wide world.

It’s already been out in the UK and Ireland but as of today, it’s also out in North America. It’s on bookshelves in bookstores, it’s waiting for you in your mailbox if you preordered it, it’s in your purse or on your bedside table. (It’s fine, we’re fine, everything’s fine…)

This is such a weird time in the life of a writer. This work that you’ve midwifed is about to head out into the wild to do what it was meant to do or needs to do. And it feels strange – a mix of excitement and nervousness and pride and hope and gratitude and wonder and even a teensy bit terrified altogether.

As I’ve chatted about the book from London to Abbotsford, people often ask me, what is it that you want people to receive from this book? And honestly, I think it’s probably best summed up in the dedication of the book. I dedicated this book to my children, our tinies, with these words:

Out of Sorts Dedication :: Sarah Bessey

I know we will all feel out of sorts sometimes.

Don’t be afraid.

You are so loved.


This was, without a doubt, the hardest book to write for me so far. It wasn’t just about the subject matter – although it’s tricky to write about such a tender and intimate time in a person’s life, to tell your own story while still holding space for stories that are so different than your own, to attempt to shepherd people well in the liminal spaces of their faith journeys – but it was also just the season of life with being pregnant with our fourth and then giving birth and suddenly having four tinies between the ages of 9 and newborn meant I had a lot less time with a lot less energy (and even less sleep!) and yet way more work! So I’m glad to reach this finish line, let me tell you! I just may collapse across it and sleep for a while, m’kay?

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support over this process. It means more to me than you could ever know.

So many of you have also asked how to help support the book as well as how to grab all the free stuff like printables and playlists and the first four chapters to read NOW and that kind of thing to celebrate the release.

So keep reading below for all the fun stuff and someone hand me some coffee.


With love and hope,


Free Printables

To celebrate the release of the book, we’ve created FREE Prints to download! The amazing Taylor Rauschkolb has created four amazing prints based on the book for you to download and print at home. No charge, my friends! Just click on the images and you’ll find your way to the page for downloading the PDFs. printscollage

How to Support the Book Launch

It’s always awkward to do the self-promotion part of this stuff so I’ve resorted to Doctor Who GIFS because they make me feel better. So here is How to Help Launch “Out of Sorts.” Let’s do this thing, my friends! (TL;DR version: leave a review at online retailers, buy the book, spread the word with #OutofSortsBook.)


Out of Sorts Playlist

Click here to check out the songs that were my companions while I wrote the book – I think they’ll be great companions for you as you READ it. All the praise hand emojis for old-school Jesus music!

Read the first four chapters of the book FOR FREE! My publisher is giving you a sneak peek. Click to “grabb” the first 4 chapters right here.

Synchroblog: November 5

On November 5, I’m hosting a synchroblog with the prompt “I used to think _____ and now I think _______.” Here’s how it works:

  • Write a post on your own blog using that prompt. We’re telling our stories of transformation, of the ways we’ve changed and evolved and grown, the ways we’ve changed our minds or our hearts in response to the unchanging Christ. It can be as serious or as light as you want.
  • Come to my blog on November 5. There will be a post here for the synchroblog with a link up. Just enter the link to your post (the post itself, not your blog in general) and you’ll be part of the fun.
  • Click on a few of the other posts, leave comments for each other, get to know a few new bloggers. It’s meant to be a way to connect us and our stories with one another.
  • I’ll select one of those posts for a guest post on my blog, featuring your work here. Plus that person will also receive three copies of the book as a thank you for participating.


What Other People Are Saying

From Jen Hatmaker, author of the bestselling “For the Love” and “7” (excerpted from the Foreword):

Listen, Wanderer, Wonderer, Church Girl, Question-Asker, Status Quo Upender, those of you in the in-between somewhere, those of you in the wilderness, those of you safely home: this book will be a balm. If you have ever trusted me, now is the time. What you will find in these pages is nothing short of a gift. There are plenty of us out here reimagining, rethinking, reevaluating, restarting. You aren’t alone. Sit down, pour yourself a cuppa tea (I’m channeling Sarah here), and receive this permission to leave behind the stale trappings of religion in order to find Jesus again. He is as good as we ever hoped. Thank you, my dearest Sarah Bessey, for helping us find our way back home.

From Glennon Doyle Melton, NYT bestselling author of Carry On Warrior, founder of Momastery and Together Rising

Out of Sorts reads like a love letter to Jesus and to all those desperate to see His true face. Through her indomitable heart, brilliant mind and vivid writing, Bessey sets an extravagant, cozy table in the middle of the spiritual desert. She invites her Jesus and all restless wanderers to the table and through her- we fall in love again. Bessey hosts the most holy of reunions. She is the writer, the Christian, the woman we need at this very moment and her latest offering will comfort, awaken, challenge, and heal. Out of Sorts already lives on the shelf I reserve for my all time favorites.”

From Christine Caine, Founder The A21 Campaign & Propel Women

There are so many things that I love about this book and I know you will too. I love Sarah Bessey and true to form, in Out of Sorts she is transparent, vulnerable, thought provoking and gracious as she wrestles with things we have all wrestled with or one day will. Her message of hope, love and grace is stunning and my heart resonates deeply with the thought that “we need each other, and we need to learn from each stream, because our stories don’t happen alone; our roots are all tangled together.”

From Peter Enns, author of The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It

Touching a raw nerve in contemporary evangelical experience, Sarah Bessey reflects on the inevitable reality of walking the path of faith without having it all worked out—and at times having none of it worked out. Thoughtful, compelling, moving and real, Bessey models a faith many are seeking but afraid to voice, a faith released of the obligation to be certain. This is the kind of book you’ll want to read and tell friends about.

Read more endorsements here.

Working on an article or post about the book?

Media resources are right here

Continue Reading · books, faith, journey, Out of Sorts · 18

How to Help Launch “Out of Sorts” (in Doctor Who GIFS, because, well, of course)

Me, 5 days before the official release of my new book:

I’ve heard from a lot of friends and readers who want to know how to help or support the book release. Which is amazing. Seriously. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and support of so many friends, bloggers, writers, readers, pastors, podcasters,  and churches.

(Related: TUESDAY. *faint*)

Obviously, I’m a little excited for November 3 and the official release of Out of Sorts.


If you’d like to help promote or spread the word about Out of Sorts, here’s how:

Buy the book! I know, I’m a marketing genius. Someone should take notes.

Review it: On Tuesday, post a review on every online retailer you’ve ever heard of – you can use the same review everywhere – Amazon (in the States, Canada, or the UK), Chapters, Book Depository, Books-a-Milion, wherever. Apparently, the Amazon reviews are a big deal in particular so it would be nice to have a few right off the bat. If you’ve read the book already or written a review for GoodReads or your blog, just copy and paste that review over at Amazon and it would be a help. (Of course, if you hated it, ignore this advice completely, bless.)

Spread the word on social media. This is a biggie. Take a picture of the book for Instagram. Find it at a bookstore and take pictures. Download or screen grab memes you see about the book and share those. There are some wonderful ones already available! Post about the book release or share quotes from the book on Facebook or Twitter.  Heck, I’ll take MySpace, I’m not proud (obviously). Tag it with #OutofSortsBook so that I can see it, if you don’t mind. Otherwise, I’ll lose track.

Yes, Doctor, yes, I do want to update Twitter. 

Participate in the synchroblog. I’ll be hosting an old fashioned synchroblog after the book’s release so if you could plan on participating in that, that would be lovely. I know these things have fallen out of fashion, but I still like them. We’ll be all writing around the prompt “I used to think ______ but now I think ______.” It can be as silly or as serious, as theological or as cultural as you like. And after that, I’ll select one of those posts and feature it as a guest post on my blog and give that person 3 copies of the book, too!

Read the first four chapters of the book FOR FREE! My publisher is giving you a sneak peek. Click to “grabb” the first 4 chapters right here.

Listen to and follow and share the Out of Sorts Playlist. These songs were my companions as I lived out the stories in the book and so now they can be your companions as you read it! Bit of old-school Jesus music is good for the soul, right?

Gather a few friends for a book club or discussion group.

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and keep an eye out for the news about the book. I’ll post about interviews, reviews, podcasts, that sort of thing. If you comment or like those statuses, then more people will see them. (Zuckerberg plays a cheeky game, my friends.) So check them out and, if you like them, please share/comment/like! I’ve already done several of these so you’ll see them on the pages.

Well, this is awkward.

Write a review or a response about the book for your blog.  

Buy a copy or two (or, you know, twenty) for your family and friends as Christmas gifts.

Ask your local bookstore to stock it. And then, when you go back and see it there on the shelf, re-shelve it right beside the nearest bestselling book you see. (I kid, I kid….I think.) For instance, Abbotsford friends, House of James has been so supportive, so ask there!

Saying “thank you” feels inadequate, but I must say it: thank you. Thank you for your support and help and for believing in this book.

In gratitude:

Now to close out this painful bit of self-promotion.

Me, next Tuesday, all day:

Continue Reading · blogging, book review, books, Out of Sorts · 21

Who Are You? :: a guest post by Erika Morrison

I’m so happy to share my friend, Erika Morrison with you today. Erika and I go way back in the blogging life together. We wrote together at the now-defunct Deeper Story site, and even went to Haiti together! She’s written a book unlike anything typical to the Christian-lady-writer genre. She’s refreshing and honest and real – you’ll love her. Erika is the embodiment of life outside the narrow boundary markers…Open the door to her spirit-led influence and you will never be the same.

The cardinals make it look so easy. The honeybees make it look so easy. The catfish and the black crow, the dairy cow and the cactus plant, all make being created appear effortless. They arise from the earth, do their beautiful, exclusive thing and die having fulfilled their fate.

None of nature seems to struggle to know who they are or what to do with themselves.

But humanity is the exception to nature’s rule because we’re individualized within our breed. We’re told by our mamas and mentors that–like snowflakes–no two of us are the same and that we each have a special purpose and part to play within the great Body of God.

(If your mama never told you this, consider yourself informed: YOU–your original cells and skin-print, guts and ingenuity–will never ever incarnate again. Do you believe it?)

So we struggle and seek and bald our knees asking variations of discovery-type questions (Who am I? Why am I here?) and if we’re semi-smart and moderately equipped we pay attention just enough to wake up piecemeal over years to the knowledge of our vital, indigenous selves.

And yet . . . even for all our wrestling and wondering, there are certain, abundant factors stacked against our waking up. We feel and fight the low ceiling of man made definitions, systems and institutions; we fight status quo, culture conformity, herd mentalities and more often than not, “The original shimmering self gets buried so deep that most of us end up hardly living out of it at all. Instead we live out of all our other selves, which we are constantly putting on and taking off like coats and hats against the world’s weather.” ~Frederick Buechner

So, let me ask you. Do you know something–anything–of your true, original, shimmering self?

I don’t mean: Coffee Drinker, Jesus Lover, Crossfitter, Writer, Wife, Mama.

Those are your interests and investments.

I do mean: Who are you undressed and naked of the things that tell you who you are?

Who are you before you became a Jesus lover or mother or husband?

Who are you without your church, your hobbies, your performances and projects?

I’m not talking about your confidence in saying, “I am a child of God”, either. What I am asking a quarter-dozen different ways is this: within the framework of being a child of God, what part of God do you represent? Do you know where you begin and where you end? Do you know the here-to-here of your uniqueness? Do you know, as John Duns Scotus puts it, your unusual, individual “thisness”?

I can’t resolve this question for you, I can only ask you if you’re interested. (Are you interested?)

I can only tell you that it is a good and right investment to spend the energy and time to learn who you are with nothing barnacled to your body, to learn what it is you bleed. Because you were enough on the day of your birth when you came to us stripped and slippery and squeezing absolutely nothing but your God-given glow.

And who you were on that born-day is also who you are now, but since you’ve been living on this planet long enough to learn how to read this article, then it follows that you’ve also lived here long enough to collect a few layers of horsefeathers and hogwash.

So, yet again, I’m inquiring: What is it that you see before the full-length bathroom mirror after you’ve divested of clothes and masks and hats and accessories and roles and beliefs and missions and persuaders and pressures–until you’re down to just your peeled nature, minus all the addons mixed in with your molecules?

Do you see somebody who was made with passion, on purpose, in earnest; fearfully and wonderfully, by a Maker with a brow bent in the center, two careful hands, a stitching kit and divine kiss?

Can you catch between your fingers even the tiniest fragment of self-knowledge, roll it around and put a word to it?

Your identity is a living organism and literally wishes to unfurl and spread from your center and who will care and who will lecture if you wander around a little bit every day to look for the unique shine of your own soul?

One of the central endeavors of the human experience is to consciously discover the intimacies of who we already are. As in: life is not about building an alternate name for ourselves; it’s about discovering the name we already have.

Will you, _______, rise from your own sacred ash?

Because the rest of us cannot afford to lose the length of your limbs or the cadence of your light or the rhythm of your ideas or the harmony of your creative force. The way you sway and smile, the awkward this and that and the other thing you do.

These are the days for opening our two clumsy hands before the wideness of life and the allure of a God who stops and starts our hearts. These are the days for rubbing our two imperfect sticks together so we can kindle another feeble, holy light from the deep within–each of us alone and also for each other.

There is no resolution to this quest; the only destination is the process. But I hope there’s a small spark here that will leave you wanting, that will leave you with a blue-fire lined in your spine, that will inspire a cellular, metamorphic process in you; an odyssey of the soul unique to you and your individual history, organisms, and experiences.

There is maybe a fine line between being lethargic about learning ourselves and not being self-obsessive and with that tension in mind, how do we begin (or continue) the process of unearthing and remembering the truth of our intrinsic selves?

Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul was written because sometimes we all need a little hand-holding and butt-nudging in our process; someone or something to come alongside us while we pick up our threads of soul discovery and travel from one dot and tittle to the next.

We are the Kingdom people and learning your own fingerprint is something of what it means for the Kingdom to come in response to an earth which groans forth it’s rolling desire for the great interlocking circle of contribution to reveal the luminous and loving Body of Christ and slowly, seriously–like it’s our destiny–set the world to rights.

Kingdom come. Which is to say: YOU, [be]come and carve your glorious, powerful, heaven-appointed meaning into the sides of rocks and communities and cities and skies.


Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 1.50.29 PM (1)Without being formulaic and without offering one-size-fits-all “how-to” steps, Bandersnatch is support material for your soul odyssey; a kind of field guide designed to come alongside the moment of your unfurling.

Come with me? And I will go with you and if you’re interested, you can order wherever books or ebooks are sold.

Or, if you’d like to read the first three chapters and just see if Bandersnatch is something for such a time as the hour you’re in, click HERE.

All my love,

Erika Morrison

View More: Morrison is a writer and speaker, a visionary and life artist. With an unconventional approach to spirituality, she paints bold, prophetic portraits of Kingdom-come. Erika makes her home and invests her heart in the Yale University town of New Haven, CT along with her husband Austin; their sons Gabe, Seth and Jude; and a female pit bull named Zeppelin. 

Continue Reading · books, Guest Post · 7

What I’m Into :: Summer 2015

What I'm Into - Summer 2015 :: Sarah Bessey


Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee :: Oh, the book of books this summer. My thoughts are still such a swirl on this book. I can’t seem to articulate them. I loved it for what it was though. But I have to point you towards my buddy D.L. Mayfield’s essay about this book – it’s on the money. If you only read one more thinkpiece about this novel, make it that one.

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed :: Profane and sacred all at the same time. It’s not for everyone but it made so very glad to be alive.

Americanah by Chimamanada Ngozi Adichie :: Absolutely gob-smackingly brilliant. I couldn’t put it down. Complex, wise, funny, real, and interesting.

Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay :: This was a fast, fun, and delightful read – great for a summer day. I figured out the twist within about a second but that didn’t make it any less fun to read all the way through.

The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows :: One of my perpetual comfort reads is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which was co-written with Annie Barrows, so I was very excited to see her new book at the library. I snatched it up and devoured it in a weekend. Again, a great summer book, a fascinating story, with such fantastic and strong female characters.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish :: This one is a classic for a reason. I read it, nothing much new but still a helpful resource.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion :: I had this one sitting on my side table for months. I just couldn’t seem to pick it up, always preferring to read something else first. Well, I reluctantly picked it up when I’d finished all the other reading on Friday night and did not put it down until I was done. I had misjudged the story and the cover but once I started, i fell in love with these characters. A delight.

Scape by Luci Shaw :: Luci Shaw is my favourite living poet and this is her new volume of poetry. It’s quintessential Luci. I want to be her when I grow up.

The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert :: I’ve been doing a bit more reading about the Enneagram, thanks to my friend, Leigh Kramer, who is an Enneagram Coach. It’s been helpful in many ways (I’m a Type 9, if you’re into that sort of thing). (For the uninitiated, it’s an ancient form of personality types/temperaments.)

Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God by Lauren Winner :: I would buy this book all over again just for the chapter on God as birth-giver/midwife. I adore everything Lauren Winner writes – she’s impeccable – but this was a great book.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo :: Unpopular opinion confession: blergh. I didn’t like this book. I mean, I get it, “what brings you joy?” is a great question. But I felt like this book was wildly unrealistic, especially for those of us with a houseful of children or a partner or, you know, any sentimental attachment to the world.

Own Your Life: Living with Deep Intention, Bold Faith, and Generous Love by Sally Clarkson :: Sally Clarkson is one of my favourite mothering writers (two of my favourites are her The Mission of Motherhood and The Ministry of Motherhood). She’s a bit more conservative than me in many ways and her family’s habits/values differ at times but I love having older women like her write about how they raised their children and kept their home and did life as a family. I find such value in her words for that aspect of my life. It’s so encouraging for us “in the trenches” – kind of like having a mothering mentor in a book.

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin :: Zzzzzzzzz. Waste of time, I’m afraid. It’s one big book of common sense.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr :: A brilliant and wonderful book. It took me a while to get into it but I stayed with it since, you know, Pulitzer and all. And boy, did it pay off. Such a beautiful story.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan :: I never can resist a bit of Angolophile lit. A bit raunchy at times but a fun read, for sure.


My big obsession this summer has been Broadchurch. Oh, my goodness. People. We devoured this show. It is masterful – the performances, the script, the story, the cinematography, the music, all the things. Cannot recommend it enough.

I’m also still going through Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Or as my son, Joe, calls it “That Fast-Talker Girl Show.” I’m into Season 2 and I’m feeling very suspicious of Jess right about now. Careful now, Rory. HARVARD.


I drank the Kool-Aid for Alabama Shakes and whoa, cannot get enough of this.

What is there even to say after that, right?

My favourite “Christian-y” album right now has been John Mark McMillan’s latest, You Are The Avalanche. I love his songs – no one in the at genre writes or sounds like this guy.


Okay, I rarely get bossy with you, my friends but I am about to get bossy. If you are a writer or a creative of any sort, you need to go right now to iTunes and subscribe to Elizabeth Gilbert’s new podcast “Magic Lessons” based off the ideas in her new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (which will likely be on my Fall What I’m Into, already pre-ordered, amen). Each episode is super short – 15-20 minutes – which works beautifully with my life. I rarely have a full hour to listen to ANYTHING so this is ideal. The language can be a bit adult occasionally but really, it’s brilliant. Creatives, you need to be listening to this one. #WriterCrush

So that’s it for summer so far! We still have a bit of time left here as school doesn’t start until the second week of September.

I’d love to hear what you’re reading or listening to or watching this summer, too! Always out for a good recommendation.




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Continue Reading · book review, books, What I’m Into · 63

Why You Should Still Read “Go Set A Watchman”

I’ll freely admit to being one of those folks who were quietly devastated by certain aspects of Harper Lee’s hotly anticipated follow-up book, Go Set A Watchman. (Of course there is a larger discussion about whether or not this book should ever have seen the light of day…)

I’ve had many a passionate conversation about this book over the past few days. My friend, Megan Tietz, is my favourite (former) English teacher and so I asked her to write me down off the ledge.

Here is her attempt:


After the New York Times published its review of Go Set a Watchman, my brother texted me, “No thanks. I’ll keep my Atticus pure, please.” In comment boxes and threads across the internet, a collective of broken hearts echoed that sentiment, recoiling with angst and disappointment and a general sense of deflated optimism in light of what became of our beloved family Finch.

My own relationship with Atticus Finch is different than most.

It wasn’t in my childhood or adolescence that I met this beloved character of American literature, this paragon of goodness, fairness, and courage for whom so many have such fond feelings. I went to four different schools from seventh to twelfth grade, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird slipped through the cracks of the scope and sequence of curriculum that taught me. It wasn’t until I was an adult, a teacher myself, that I picked up a marked-up, dog-eared copy of Mockingbird in preparation to uncover its vast treasure for a classroom of seventh graders.

I’ve spent the past few days wondering if holding the text of Mockingbird in my hands first as a teacher allows me an almost dispassionate perspective on Watchman and its Atticus. Instead of being devastated by the warnings that Watchman‘s Atticus was openly racist and not at all the stoic-but-tender father of Scout’s youth, I found myself not only energetically curious about the cast of characters, but also even more in awe than ever of Harper Lee and her extraordinary journey with this story.

I’m afraid I fall prey to that most annoying of tendencies shared by teachers of literature around the world in that I’m unwilling to separate the story from the storyteller, and having read the Times review, I knew at once why Ms. Lee’s first novel would paint Maycomb County and all of its people in this way. The advice to fledgeling writers is the same now as it was in the 1950s when Ms. Lee sat at her typewriter: write what you know. And that she did.

Just like Jean Louise Finch, Harper Lee left Alabama for New York City where she undoubtedly met both people and circumstances that caused her to rethink what she grew up believing as gospel truth. And I can only imagine that just like Jean Louise, Harper Lee fell deeply into despair when confronting the overt racism of the people and town that raised her.

So she filled the page hot with her own angst and sadness, crafting the novel we finally have access to, Go Set a Watchman. In its pages, you’ll find a young woman grappling with trying to reconcile her new, enlightened view on the world with the troubling reality of her first and once-beloved home. In its pages, you’ll find a community resisting transition, a microcosm of the turmoil of the 50s and 60s in America, and you’ll be reminded that these moments of massive cultural shift are rarely well-mannered, azalea-scented garden parties. No, these moments all too often feel like war.

A capable and wise editor took Watchman from Ms. Lee’s hands, took it in all of its anger and disillusionment, took from her the burden of trying to right all of the wrongs of racism by painting such a naked portrait of its ugliness in its current form; that editor took the manuscript of Watchman and sent her back to her typewriter for a re-write. And so, relieved of the weight of her first work, she did exactly that. And in that re-write, she decided rather than dwell in the despair of how things were, she would let loose with a vision for how things could be.

For these reasons, I encourage you to approach Watchman with a sense of wonder at the prowess of this singularly gifted writer, and I would encourage a posture of gratitude as well. After all, if it weren’t for Watchman‘s Atticus, we would never have been given the gift of Mockingbird‘s Atticus, the one we hold so dear.

In the midst of this global conversation about Atticus, I’m afraid we’ll overlook the vibrant voice of at the heart of Go Set a Watchman: Jean Louise herself.

We hold our overall’ed, precocious Scout close to our hearts with good reason. Few characters in all of modern literature are more charming. But you’ll be happy to know Scout grew up to be a cussing, smoking, wild-eyed version, true, and one well-ahead of her time. In Jean Louise, we meet a woman who comes home, hoping against hope that both the man who raised her and the man who hopes to marry her will be actively pushing back the darkness of Jim Crow and his shadow. What she finds, instead, are that these two men are actively and politely advocating for the status quo. And she comes a little unhinged.

I could never quite relate to Scout and her childhood – the idyllic warmth of a doting community seemed foreign to me, as did her larger-than-life father, the living, breathing archetype of love and justice. But oh, how I love grown-up Jean Louise. In her, I see reflected back to me the all-too familiar pain of navigating the stinging dissonance of what I was taught and what I now see to be true.

Near the end of Watchman, after a magnificent blow-up between Jean Louise and Atticus, her uncle Jack gives clarity to the conflict that drives her story, that drives the story of many of us, I suppose:

” ‘Now you, Miss, born with your own conscious, somewhere along the line fastened it like a barnacle to your father’s. As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God. You never saw him as a man with a man’s heart, and a man’s failings — I’ll grant you it may have been hard to see, he makes so few mistakes, but he makes ’em like all of us. You were an emotional cripple, leaning on him, getting answers from him, assuming that your answers would always be his answers.’ ”

Who among us cannot relate? Who here doesn’t know the struggle of realizing the answers supplied to us in childhood, the only answers we thought we’d ever need, no longer made sense when the piercing questions came pressing in? Who hasn’t looked up in the midst of what we thought was a garden party, only to realize the wounded and damaged were all around us, and we were without excuse for for our well-mannered silence on their plight?

And this is why I beg of you to give Watchman a chance, no matter how painful it might be. Don’t believe the press that tempts you to believe that Watchman is merely the downfall of a man we believed would be better.

Choose, instead, to read it as the story of a hero we’ve known since her childhood, a fellow sojourner learning what it means to swipe away the tin gods of her youth and to find a voice brave enough to speak up for equality and courageous enough to keep loving those who disagree. If ever there was one I’d want next to me on this wobbly path, it surely would be Miss Jean Louise Finch.

megan fall 2014Megan Tietz wants you to join her on the front porch for some long talks and iced tea. She lives in the heart of Oklahoma City with her husband, two daughters, and twin sons. She’s also the conversation maven at the Sorta Awesome Podcast, and she invites you to tune in on iTunes or wherever you find your favorite shows!

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Continue Reading · book review, books · 37