Saturday, June 7, 2014

Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga

Atlas Girl by Emily Wierenga is a superb book, inspiring, interesting and well written. Beautiful prose that makes you sigh and say, I wish I could write like this. It is a tale that takes you with it and carries you tight while you reach out for the characters and feel their stories. It is a story of unspoken, undescribed pain and fear that could not be put in words, of struggle with the life, and destruction of that life. Atlas Girl is chronicle of family dysfunction trough generations, incomprehension between mother and daughter, and a difficult father daughter relationship, of hope and disappointment and impossibility of communication.

A narrative that was almost ended by anorexia before it really started and a story of how God and love can go a long way and bring joy and life back again. This is a journey of self-discovery, search for an identity, a trek through life, relationships and faith, a love story of two people, complete in each other. Emily Wierenga takes us together with her to a mission trip to Lebanon and her parent’s house in Canada, to the University and her little student flat. Through all this she flies, on her wings of faith.

She takes us to a mission in Africa where she lived with her family as a little child, through her grandmother’s suicide and her mother’s brain cancer. The travelling is hard and the map is dark and angry as she leads us to her childhood’s pain and longing and to the happy years of her marriage and the difficult bliss she found with her husband. Their separation when they dated and the way they became a couple again through the mercy of God. The trail takes us through her relationship with her little brother, the mutual love, disappointments, pain and happiness in each other.

In the book, Emily Wierenga says that when you are a child, God is the face of your loved ones. And she tells us how she imagined a God who was always serious and studying unless he was at church where he smiled and laughed with people for hours. That she needed love, someone to wrap her up in their arms and tell her how beautiful she was and to make her laugh. She needed to know that God wasn’t her dad or mom, that he isn’t the face of your loved ones, that they make mistakes but God doesn’t. And because she could not get what she needed, because she could not control her life, she stopped eating and became anorexic.

When the author was thirteen, dying at the hospital, she was finally able to see God for who he was. He was grace, a Savior, and she began to believe with more than her mind, because she wanted to live. She still did not understand God the Father, but Jesus became the grace she spoke but never let get too close.

Emily Wierenga tells us honestly in her book how she brought all of herself to her relationship with her husband, her insecurities and her neglected childhood. Sometimes she would fake it, sometimes she would enjoy and sometimes she would think that she would never look confident and wonder what his husband sees in her.

After High School the author rolled into a Bible College for a year and dreamed of going oversees to work in a mission, away from her family. Then she graduated and went to a mission trip and stopped believing. After flirting with disbelief in brief moments it all piled and knocked her over. She was tired of pretending things were okay when they weren’t, of pat answers and cozy Scripture versus. She wanted to know what was real, even if it meant being heathen.

When she found out that God had woken her mother up every night to pray for her, she found a God who cared about her, a God who was bigger than all of her questions. God will always get it right, says Emily Wierenga. “He is the one who sets burning bushes alight. He is the one who gives us holy ground. No matter where we are, if God is there, the earth is sacred”.
The author tells us about the moment when she understood that the man who was to become her husband was meant for her “I knew because I wasn’t looking at his face of his body… I was looking inside him, and suddenly understood what I needed in a man; someone who would be loyal to me until the end, someone who believed in truth, someone I could trust to be a good father to my children and a good husband to me”.

She tells us how she and her future husband prayed for a week before they decided to become a couple again and how God taught her how He perceives man, and woman, not as two bodies but He sees their souls. And God told her that he was the man He had made for her. To her husband He told that it was his choice. When they got together to talk about their future, he told her that he chose her, that he always had.

God gave her a husband who would be there when she searched who she was and could not find herself. He would be there and tell her who she was, “You are loved, Emily” he would say, while she would cry. Just before her wedding a friend tells her that the “marriage is like prayer. You can choose to enter it in duty, and endure it as an individual, or enter it willing to lose oneself to the Spirit, thus becoming one with the heart of God.”

But there is still something missing, and after returning from her mission trip from Lebanon the author finds herself disappointed, she feels that God has failed her and she was done praying to God, she was praying to anorexia now. Her words are raw when she tells about her mother’s cancer and her pain and doubts. Her questioning of a loving God who watches a grown woman wet her bed. “Watch me take care of you”, God whispers to her. And the author wonders what does it look like, when God takes care of you? Is it at all what her life has become?

Emily Wierenga takes us to a journey from a near death to anorexia to new health and a search for a future. A trip with a bend and twist to a relapse and her starving herself in fear of losing the control of her life. A travelling together that leads us to her pregnancy and the miracle of birth, that the doctors said would never be possible. She takes us to a miracle a healing, of becoming whole and trusting your life in God’s hands, of letting go and receiving everything.

A quote from Emily Wierenga: “I’m learning to live in community and to create, because for me, that makes life meaningful. We are born to create. We are creators in his image. The world may not be perfect, but he can make it seem perfect for the people we love. Home is where the heart and heaven reside, collide, and inscribe themselves on us.”

I loved the book, I love the book and I loved reading it. If you enjoy beautifully written prose, words that flow like water and have the force and rawness of hurricane wind, then this book is for you. If you want to read an inspiring story of a woman who faced incredible odds in her life and found a way to overcome them, then this book is for you. If you want to read an excellent book, and enjoy doing it, then this book is for you. If you enjoy reading books, I recommend this book to you, and even if you don’t enjoy reading them, I recommend you try this one, because it just might change your mind about books in general!

About the Author
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, artist, and the author of five books. Her first novel, A Promise in Pieces, is releasing Spring of 2014, and her memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I thought to Look (Baker Books) is releasing July 1, 2014.
She is a columnist for The Christian Courier, a bi-weekly contributor to MOPS International, a monthly contributor to The Better Mom, and a paid contributor to The High Calling. In addition to being associate editor, ghostwriter, copy editor, and staff writer, Wierenga has written for Adbusters, Prodigal Magazine, Today’s Christian Woman, Radix, Christian Week, Faith Today, Geez, The Anglican Planet, Focus on the Family, Christian Courier, and In Touch.
Emily is also a blogger with World Help, and in January of 2014 traveled to Rwanda and Uganda on a bloggers’ trip.
Emily speaks at women’s retreats, universities, churches and conferences, about her journey with anorexia nervosa, and was one of the keynote speakers at the premiere Christian eating disorders conference, Hungry for Hope 2013, where she shared the platform with Kirsten Haglund, Miss America 2008.
Emily serves as an Official Ambassador for FINDINGbalance and is a Navigator with the National Eating Disorders Association.
She has appeared multiple times on 100 Huntley StreetThe Drew Marshall Show and Chris Fabry Live!,as well as on Breakfast Television Edmonton.
Each week Emily hosts an online meme called Imperfect Prose. On July 29th, 2013, Emily wrote a letter on her blog to Kate Middleton on the postpartum body. It went viral, receiving over half a million views in one week, and was shared by Dove.
She is represented by Sandra Bishop of MacGregor Literary.

Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn.
Official page for Atlas Girl 

Disclosure: I was provided with a e-copy of this book for review purposes.  All opinions expressed in this post are my own. 


  1. it sounds like a great book. i like the comparison of marriage like a prayer

  2. Sounds like a fantastic book, I like that it's Christian based and the encouragement it offers. She put Christ in the center and she was blessed.

  3. Wow! What a book. I obstacles she overcomes is inspiring. I like the strength she develops through her believes in the Lord.

  4. Aww, that one's really inspiring. I would read it.

  5. This sounds like a great read. I have a lot of free time this summer and I'm adding to to be to be read list.

  6. Looks like a wonderful book.

  7. This is so inspiring. i have a great time reading.

  8. Wow so much hurtles to jump and she over come it. So inspiring I am going to have to read this and my mom too. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Atlas girl looks like a good read and it would be interesting how the book brings us to several generations and also at different places.

  10. Although the book may not necessarily be my cup of tea, I love the way you wrote this!
    Stopping by to say hi from the FB Bloggers site :)

    Alysia from

  11. Sounds like a nice book to read at the beach, I love reading most any book and transporting to a different life.

  12. I heard someone say recently that your biggest challenges will soon be healed and God will use them to bless others. It looks like that's exactly what is going on here. :)

  13. What an inspiring story especially written by a Christian author. This is the kind of book I love to read.

  14. We need more of this books.. Very informative and gives a great message.

  15. This book serves an inspiration to all of us. I hope this will be available here in our country.

  16. With all the death and sadness in her family as a child, all you need is God. This book is a good inspiration to us all, I need to look for it, I'm not much of a book reader, but this looks really good.

  17. I am a huge book fan! I love reading and I am going to have to look for this!

  18. Seems I could hang with this book for coming weekend. Prologue sounds inviting. I always go with self-development & inspirational genre. hope I'd find something out of it. Thanks

  19. That looks like a really great read. I could definitely get into this one.

    Michelle F.

  20. Thank you, Joanna, for linking on Amanda's Books and More. I follow Emily's blog via email. I'm glad you enjoyed her book. Wishing you a blessed week ahead.

  21. Thank you for this review.
    I could feel every word.
    I like a book that draws me in.