Monday, April 6, 2009

I'm Perfect, You're Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah's Witness Upbringing eBook edition by Kyria Abrahams

                                                                                                  The first half of Kyria Abraham's I'm Perfect You're Doomed is like taking a trip to strange land.  It looks familiar, the people sound the same but the culture is very different.  The inhabitants have peculiar superstitions and curious rituals.

Kyria takes us on a tour and explains.  In this land the Devil is hiding in Smurfs and lurking at yard sales. Only repeating the word "Jehovah" over and over again will drive out evil.  Inhabitants do not dance or smoke but alcohol is permitted.  The people do not celebrate holidays, value education or socialize with foreigners.

Growing up this was her world.  A world in which these beliefs were accepted without question.  And where it was hip to be holy and zealous.  Her (slightly twisted) sense of humor keeps you entertained and amused.

The tone change as she enters her teenage years and battles with OCD, her sexuality and a creeping apostasy. Her solution?  Get married!

From here on the story is like the proverbial train wreck. Disgusting and riveting.  Abrahams carefully chronicles her depression and loneliness as she attempts to replace the void left by her religion.  She is painfully honest about her ventures into adultery, alcohol and suicide. 

This book ends as she finally seizes responsibility for her life and begins to grow up.  I suspect that is a more interesting story in the long run.  Hopefully she will write it someday.

I was deeply affected by this book. I found it by turns disgusting, exhilarating, terrifying and hopeful.  With all those conflicting emotions it is hard to write a simple review.  In the end I was glad I read it and you will be too. 

Here is the publisher's note:

I'm Perfect, You're Doomed is the story of Kyria Abrahams's coming-of-age as a Jehovah's Witness -- a doorbell-ringing "Pioneer of the Lord." Her childhood was haunted by the knowledge that her neighbors and schoolmates were doomed to die in an imminent fiery apocalypse; that Smurfs were evil; that just about anything you could buy at a yard sale was infested by demons; and that Ouija boards -- even if they were manufactured by Parker Brothers -- were portals to hell. Never mind how popular you are when you hand out the Watchtower instead of candy at Halloween.

When Abrahams turned eighteen, things got even stranger. That's when she found herself married to a man she didn't love, with adultery her only way out. "Disfellowshipped" and exiled from the only world she'd ever known, Abrahams realized that the only people who could save her were the very sinners she had prayed would be smitten by God's wrath.

Raucously funny, deeply unsettling, and written with scorching wit and deep compassion, I'm Perfect, You're Doomed explores the ironic absurdity of growing up believing that nothing matters because everything's about to be destroyed.

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