Life, In Spite of Me by Kristen Jane Anderson
She wanted to die. God had other plans.
Overwhelmed by wave after wave of emotional trauma, Kristen Anderson no longer wanted to live. One January night, determined to end her pain once and for all, the seventeen-year-old lay across train tracks not far from her home and waited to die.
Instead of peace, she found herself immersed in a whole new nightmare.
Before the engineer could bring the train to a stop, thirty-three freight cars passed over her at fifty-five miles per hour. After the train stopped and Kristen realized she was still alive, she looked around—and saw her legs ten feet away.
Surviving her suicide attempt but losing her legs launched Kristen into an even deeper battle with depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as unrelenting physical pain—all from the seat of a wheelchair. But in the midst of her darkest days, Kristen discovered the way to real life and a purpose for living.
For anyone struggling to find the strength to go on, the message of this heart-wrenching yet hope-building book is a clear and extraordinary reminder that even when we give up on life, God doesn’t give up on us.
Includes notes of encouragement from Kristen and resources for suicide prevention.
This book must be read with tissues nearby. I was nearly crying by the second page. And even when there were wonderful, joyous moments in the book, they made me want to cry. It is such a beautiful book, I’m not even sure I can describe it accurately. If I were a youth leader (and God willing, I will be in the future), I would make this required reading for every single student in my youth group. Boys and girls both. She does such a wonderful job of describing the isolation of depression, and I think that’s what most kids get sucked in by. They feel alone. They don’t think that other people will believe them, or they don’t think other people will find their problems legitimate. And I’ll admit, there are times that I listen to younger people talking about things and I just think “None of that crap matters in life.” But Kristen Anderson was raped. That is legitimate. And no matter what, when someone comes to you with an issue like that, you take it seriously. Whether they were drinking, or whether they were okay with parts of what was going on but didn’t want to go all the way. It’s a Big Deal. But she didn’t feel that she could tell anyone.
And that’s just one thing. There’s more. And there were certainly members of the mental health profession that failed her miserably when her parents were trying to get her help. But despite all that, it’s very clear that God was there with her, even when she was trying to take her life. And God saved her from death. There are several points in the book where it becomes clear that she should not be alive now. But she is. Because God has work for her to do. And believe me, this book is helping her do it. It is really just such a good book. And like I said, it should be required reading for teenagers. She not only talks about her depression and how she got to that point. She also talks about her recovery, the lessons she learned from it all, and how she managed to recover and turn her life into something amazing, all with the help of God (and a bunch of His servants here on Earth). Her story is sad. But also full of hope. And grace. And strength. And God’s power.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah through their Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions, tears, and tissue that wiped them away are mine. All links are affiliate links.