Last month we shared about our fun-filled time at YALLFest in Charleston, SC. We even posted about the new authors we discovered. One of those authors was Aaron Hartzler who wrote the book “Rapture Practice.” With a title like that, I knew I wanted to read this book. We found Aaron to be hilarious and extremely nice. When we saw him at Starbucks, he was so gracious and was willing to take a picture with me. That made me want to read his book even more. So it was the first purchase I made on my Kindle when I got home. “Rapture Practice” is not your typical YA book. It is an auto-biographical account of Hartzler’s teen year. I found the book to be open, honest, entertaining and witty, but also heart-wrenching, surreal, and at times, truly sad.
Aaron Hartzler grew up in a home where he was taught that at any moment Jesus might come down in the twinkling of an eye, and scoop his whole family up to Heaven. As a kid, Aaron was thrilled by the idea that each day might be his last one on planet Earth. He couldn’t wait to blastoff and join Jesus in the sky!
But as he turns sixteen, Aaron finds himself more and more attached to his life on Earth, and curious about all the things his family forsakes for the Lord. He begins to realize he doesn’t want the Rapture to happen, just yet; not before he sees his first movie, stars in the school play, or has his first kiss. Before long, Aaron makes the plunge from conflicted do-gooder to full-fledged teen rebel.
Whether he’s sneaking out, making out, or at the piano playing hymns with a hangover, Aaron learns a few lessons that can’t be found in the Bible. He discovers the best friends aren’t always the ones your mom and dad approve of, and the tricky part about believing is that no one can do it for you.
In this funny and heartfelt coming of age memoir, debut author Aaron Hartzler recalls his teenage journey to find the person he is without losing the family who loves him. It’s a story about losing your faith, finding your place, and learning your very own truth–which is always stranger than fiction.
First of all, I must share that I am a church-going person. I love going to church, I have been a Sunday-School teacher, and my kids are both active in our church’s youth group. So I read this book from a different perspective. As a mother of two teens the approximate age that Aaron was in the book, I was very interested in his feelings about his faith.
Aaron was questioning his faith and wondering why he couldn’t watch TV, go to movies, listen to secular music, or even listen to “Christian rock.” So of course, he rebelled. I understood that his parents were doing what they thought was best for their family and was in line with their beliefs. What they never seemed to consider was allowing their son some freedom to express himself. So, in a roundabout way, I found this funny, touching memoir of a young man’s teen years to be a parenting “how-not-to.”
At YALLFest, Hartzler was open about being gay, so I thought the book would deal with how his parents handled that news. Unfortunately, it ended before Aaron realized this about himself. So hopefully, he will write a sequel about his college years (apparently he actually attended a Bible college for one year). I for one, look forward to more from Hartzler, and I have faith that anything he writes will be both entertaining and touching.