Monday, May 24, 2010

Blog Tour: Life, In Spite of Me (Review & Interview)

A cold, dreary and lonely January night in Illinois can be bleak for someone at the top of their game.

But for a teenage girl, facing heartache, pain and depression, the bleakness can seem as endless as the darkest winter night - and it can often lead to choices that have life-altering implications.

Such is the case found in the story of Kristen Jane Anderson, a young woman who thought suicide would end her pain-filled life.

In one moment, a split second really, Anderson laid down in front of an approaching train - expecting the 33 freight cars passing over her body would bring the closure found only in death.

Instead, a miracle took place. Despite the odds, Anderson lived. She, along with co-author Tricia Goyer, chronicles her journey from a fatal choice to a life filled with extraordinary hope, in the newest non-fiction offering from Multnomah Books Life, In Spite of Me.

Recording the Story
Goyer and Anderson formed their writing partnership, in an attempt to tell Anderson’s story, thanks in part to an introduction by a mutual friend and author, Margaret McSweeny. Together, the pair worked many hours to bring Anderson’s story to life, through the written page.

Goyer said she was drawn to help tell Kristen's story, when she heard Kristen talk about the transformation which took place in her life in the days and weeks following her suicide attempt.

"It's a story of someone who was in such darkness that found Light and hope," Goyer explained. "I think it's important to tell because there are so many people who face depression and suicidal thoughts. I knew this story could help people and possibly save lives."

Through weekly, lengthy phone conversations, the pair worked to craft the tale. Stories from each call developed into different sections of the book, which eventually led to the entire manuscript.

"I felt it was important to start with the night of the suicide attempt and then tell the events leading up to the point she decided to commit suicide, and then follow the path of her moving from pain to hope," Goyer said.
"Since I write novels, that really helped me to create scenes that take readers into the story."

Graphic, and a bit gritty at times, Goyer and Anderson worked to capture the emotions Anderson felt during the days leading up to, and after her suicide attempt.

“Kristen did a great job telling me exactly how she felt, and if she couldn't tell me exactly then I kept asking,” Goyer explained. “As I was writing, I thought about some of the pain I experienced in the past and channeled the emotions from that.”

While the story takes place shortly after New Years' Eve, in January 2000, other than a brief reference to "Y2K" Goyer and Anderson chose deliberately, not to let the story become bogged down with dates or a specific time line.

"We wanted to make the book as relevant to today as possible," she explained. "We felt the dates weren't as important as the story."

Instead, she continued, they wanted the book to talk about one young woman's decision to die and God's plans to give her abundant life.

“I think people who have faced any type of struggles in their lives will find hope from this book,” Goyer said. “I hope people will walk away with a feeling that if God could help Kristen then He can reach them and meet them in their time of need. I hope they are amazing by God's goodness!!”

Goyer said through the entire process, God taught her several lessons.

“God has taught me that He has plans for me, too,” Goyer said. “Kristen is a gift to my life. I also learned that some books need time and refocusing to discover ... but they are worth all the effort!”

What I Thought
I received this book in the mail after a horribly busy day at the church. I planned to "thumb" through it a bit, but put it aside until later in the week, when I could give it more attention.

That was until, I opened the book. Quickly, my planned TV watching (Dancing with the Stars) was abandoned. The opening lines hooked me into Kristen Anderson's story.

Honestly, I didn't put the book down until I reached the last page.

Simple, honest and quite straight forward, the memoir crafted by Anderson and Goyer will stick with you, long after you finish reading it.

I found myself drawn to the pain, agony and despair Anderson felt as life, well, kind of piled up on her. I've seen girls (of all ages - including adults) crumble under the weight of many of the things she faced. I understand the choices which led to Anderson's suicide attempt.

I also believe that God has a better plan - and is using Anderson to give voice to it. This is an amazing story of faith, hope and overcoming adversity.

In the weeks since I first read the book, I've found myself referring people to this amazing resource - not only for those facing suicidal thoughts, but also those dealing with the hard reality of life.

Anderson's story does not glorify suicide, nor does is it a "Cinderella" story, where everything ends "happily ever after" due to earthly things. Instead, it's a testament to the extraordinary hope that she found through a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

I can only imagine the lives God will touch through Anderson's story - and her Reaching You Ministries. I know it has touched mine in a small, yet meaningful way.

Want To Know More?
Watch a recent video interview by Kristen here.

Anderson interviewed by Oprah

Anderson on a Billy Graham Special

More About Tricia Goyer
Tricia Goyer is the author of 24 books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough.

She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003.

Goyer's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Goyer writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Goyer is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions.

Goyer and her husband, John, have been married for 20 years, and have four children. John Goyer works at FamilyLife in Little Rock, Ark., while Goyer writes from home and homeschool. "We love writing and our family loves serving and caring for others."

In the last three months the Goyer family has moved 2,000 miles (from Montana to Arkansas), adopted a baby girl and begun searching for a new church home. "We're excited about what God is doing with us in Little Rock!"  For more info, about Goyer visit www.triciagoyer.com.

Want to read reviews (and interviews) with Goyer about some of her other novels? You can find a complete list here: http://kaytebug2002.blogspot.com/p/book-reviews.html

More About Kristen Anderson
Kristen Anderson is the founder of Reaching You Ministries, the author of Life, In Spite of Me, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, has been featured on Oprah and is a popular speaker at colleges, women’s and youth events, churches, and suicide prevention outreaches.

If you would like to invite Anderson to speak at an event, or to find out more information, click here. To find out more about Reaching You Ministries visit www.reachingyouministries.com or visit the group's Facebook page.

Read What Others Think
Join the Blog Tour and see what others think about this book. Click here for details.

Life, In Spite of Me is a remarkable story of life beyond despair and hope that triumphs over tragedy.”
   —Louie Giglio, pastor, Passion City Church/The Passion Movement

“Suicide is a liar and a thief. It promises peace to those who are escaping but delivers unimaginable pain and rejection to those left behind. Kristen Jane Anderson’s riveting story unmasks the thief and gives hope a face.”
   —Dr. Dennis Rainey, president, FamilyLife Ministries

“When I first met Kristen, I was overwhelmed with her smile, and then I saw her wheelchair. It was a defining moment for me. I had not heard her story or why she’d ended up at Moody. But it was her smile—and it is still her smile—that dismantles me. Kristen has something. It is something otherworldly. She had every reason to die, but now she has every reason to live. I hope you’ll read her story, see her smile, and know why she lives.”
   —Michael Easley, former president, Moody Bible Institute

It's A Contest
Win a copy of Life, In Spite of Me and a Tricia Goyer Library!
Tweet this: Don’t miss Life, In Spite of Me by @TriciaGoyer! The amazing story of #KristenAnderson journey back from #suicide! http://bit.ly/98PKmo (must use both hashtags #kristenanderson and #suicide)

For a chance to win a 5 book Tricia Goyer library – any five books of your choice!

And/or

Leave a comment {HERE}  for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of Life, In Spite of Me.

Note: As a freelance journalist, I was provided a copy of this book by Litfuse Publicity Group. This review was not influenced by a free book - just in case you (or the FTC) were worried about this detail.

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