Sunday, February 21, 2010
A Book Review
Mary DeMuth’s memoir Thin Places, released February 1, will break your heart then mend it better than it was before. As gritty and painful as it is inspiring, Thin Places is the story of DeMuth’s traumatic childhood and rich spiritual journey into adulthood. The details of her abuse, neglect and eventual redemption seem to unravel naturally, yet this is the work of a truly gifted storyteller.
DeMuth gives order to her helter-skelter upbringing by anchoring scenes in the moments when she came closest to God: thin places. According to the author, thin places are “snatches of time, moments really, when we sense God intersecting our world in tangible, unmistakable ways.” A little girl alone in a world of divorced and drug-addicted parents, a careless babysitter, and sexually abusive neighborhood boys, Mary DeMuth triumphs because of the still small voice she encountered in even the darkest moments.
True to her storytelling nature, DeMuth builds an artful and detailed narrative, and delivers the kind of startling honesty many of us aren’t brave enough to offer ourselves. The Christian answer to essayist Annie Dillard, DeMuth’s recollection of her past is grounded yet ethereal, orderly yet poetic.
Unlike most essayists, DeMuth’s memoir is absent of self-pity or narcissism. In a self-indicting tone, the author continually asks, “Does the world revolve around me, or do I think it should? Am I a person of sacrifice or selfishness?” (104). This practice serves her writing well by creating a humble voice and welcome space for her reader.
Contrary to self-indulgence, the author labors through her own pain with the aim of encouraging others who feel alone. In the press leading to the release of Thin Places, DeMuth made her intentions for this cathartic work clear. “It’s my sincere hope that my story will stay with readers, not because of its sordidness, but because the Light of Jesus has shined so brightly upon it.”
About her memoir, DeMuth said, “I’ve sensed God’s hands on this book from the moment I started writing it.” Clearly He carried her to this place of understanding. Thin Places is a shining example of God’s unfathomable, illogical, and unfailing love, and how He communicates to the least of these through the most unlikely circumstances.