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Once You Go In

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A gripping read that makes you ponder how much 'faith' controls you.  Evangelical Christians want to open you with open arms but you must fit in or else you are gone.  Carly Gelsinger was desperate to feel loved and accepted and pays deeply because of it.  This book shows how she was sucked in and how she got out.
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This was described as a radical journey of faith but really I was expecting some extreme things and instead I got something that's a little bit outside of the norm and shouldn't necessarily afforded a memoir. My reading experience in short was just very anti-climatic. It was fascinating to see how Gelsinger unlearned her hardcore doctrinated believes but the book doesn't spend too much time on exploring this and the abrupt jump from leaving church and getting married was also very jarring. I commend the author for sharing such personal stuff but as a reader it felt uneventful.
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I think "Once You Go In" is an example that just because your life experiences have been a little outside the norm doesn't mean you should necessarily write a memoir. Evangelical Christians are interesting because they're so extreme, so it would seem like Gelsinger's book would be filled with crazy tales. However, I felt like I spent the entire book waiting for something to happen. Even the way Gelsinger got indoctrinated into the church isn't particularly suspenseful - she simply started attending a new church as a teenager, and then eventually decided to follow their behaviors (speaking in tongues, trying to convert others), even if it didn't seem as though she actually believed any of the doctrines. I think these types of memoirs are fascinating when a person has to unlearn hardcore beliefs that go against what's typical in society. Gelsinger doesn't spend too much time exploring any deprogramming that takes place. The book jumps quite quickly from her leaving the church and getting married - the abruptness made me feel like she wasn't that enmeshed in the religion after all. I do see that there are lots of positive reviews on Goodreads, so maybe I just couldn't connect to this as well as other people who are more religious perhaps. It's brave for any writer to share their personal history, but this book was just too slow and uneventful for me to get behind.
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Once You Go In
A Memoir of Radical Faith
by Carly Gelsinger

She Writes Press

She Writes Press
 Biographies & Memoirs 
  Religion & Spirituality 
Pub Date 16 Oct 2018

I am reviewing a copy of Once You Go In through She Writes Press and Netgalley:

When Carly Gelsinger was an awkward and lonely thirteen year old when she stumbles into Pine Canyon Assemblies of God.  The church is a cracked stucco building on the outskirts of her remote small town. She finds her place despite apprehensions because she wants nothing more than to belong.  She is soon on fire for God.  

Carly Gelsinger speaks in tongues, slays demons, and follows her abusive pastor’s every word. It is not until her life is nearly destroyed that she finds the courage to leave.

Once You Go In is a coming of age story that deals with both the beautiful and dangerous aspects of absolute faith.

I give Once You Go in Five out of five stars!

Happy Reading!
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Some memoirs you read and wonder where has this particular author has been all your life. If you have been disenfranchised by the church, dealt with spiritual abuse, or are wanting to find a different church expression then this book might be calling out to you.

Carly takes you into her homeschooled world of Northern California. She’s always felt different, wanting to belong and one day when she discovers Pine Canyon Assemblies Of God Church she thinks she may have found a place to fit in.

This book is Carly’s journey into the world of the charismatic church. Her descriptions of what the services can be like is spot on and the peer pressure to speak in tongues even when you may think the whole idea to be weird is huge. When Carly does finally speak her special language she describes the spiritual high she gets from it and how everything else in life sort of fades away when she’s in that mode.

I recall when I visited a charismatic church and there was pressure to be slain in the spirit. When the piano player timed the music a little too, planned I sensed the whole sham that I felt it was. Were church goers truly under the Holy Spirit’s power, or was it a false spirit? Is having what looks like seizures truly a move of God, or demonic? I left that service with my charismatic interest snuffed out.

This church is Pentecostal and on fire for Jesus which includes speaking in tongues, long prayers and being monitored by the leadership. It’s all in love right? Carly’s parents are believers, but not as intense as this church body is. She longs for approval and to be seen as worthy, to be as spiritual as her youth pastor’s wife, that befriends her.

When something goes terribly wrong on a mission trip Carly tries to chalk it up to her not listening to the rules for the trip. Other things happen where logically she feels the leadership is being overly legalistic. Carly wants so badly to do the right thing that she brushes off her gut reaction.

How do you know when a church is unhealthy, or spiritually abusive? How do you stand up for yourself when your spiritual leaders have you under their spell of sorts (not an actual spell)? Carly deals with these vital topics and more.

I received my complimentary digital copy of Once You Go In by Carly Gelsinger from She Writes Press, care of NetGalley. The views expressed are of my own will and mine. I commend Carly for writing so candidly about her church experience and faith journey. It’s not easy to share such personal moments. Thank you for baring your soul, so others know they aren’t alone in their journeys to find their spiritual home, whether that’s in a church or in a park.
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This was all too familiar, reading it as someone who comes from a similar background. Gelsinger portrays things with honor and grace, though, even as she shows what is unacceptable and harmful. I can't wait to see what's next from her!
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A huge thank you to #Netgalley and She Writes Press for this copy of "Once You Go In" in exchange for my honest review.  

A very well-written story about breaking the chains of a hostile church and finding one's truth. 

Carly Gelsinger is a dedicated young woman "ON FIRE" for Jesus. When she joins Pine Canyon Church, a radically Pentecostal church, she begins to experience a feeling of acceptance and purpose. She feels God speaking to her, through her, around her. Carly feels that she has found where she belongs. Over the years, the speaking in tongues, the thrashing convulsions of faith and moments of enlightenment, no longer come to her in a form of acceptance and love. Instead, she is constantly feeling criticized, not good enough, attacked, and even manipulated.

What I particularly enjoyed about Gelsinger's writing is that she never insulted or spoke negatively about Pine Canyon church or any of the affiliated organizations in which she encountered this radical faith. Instead, she wrote in such a way that explains to the reader "This is what I believed in, this is how I experienced it, this is why I believed in it, and this is how I realized it wasn't good for me." It was a very intriguing read, because there is so much more that people don't understand about the ones who are so devoted to radical churches such as Pine Canyon. Gelsinger explains everything in her own experience. From the moment when she was a girl stepping into the church for the first time, to being a young woman in college, dealing with heartache and social acceptance, she speaks her truth and does it very well. 

Truly enjoyed this one.
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Carly Gelsinger is an awkward and lonely thirteen-year-old when she stumbles into Pine Canyon Assemblies of God, the cracked stucco church on the outskirts of her remote small town. She assimilates, despite her apprehensions, because she is desperate to belong. Soon, she is on fire for God. She speaks in tongues, slays demons, and follows her abusive pastor’s every word―and it’s not until her life is burnt to the ground that she finds the courage to leave. Raw and illuminating,Once You Go In is a coming-of-age tale about the beauty and danger of absolute faith, and the stories people tell themselves to avoid their deepest fears.

I love a good book about cults, it's kinda my weird obsession.  What got me about the description was my own Pentecostal upbringing, the extreme way people just throw themselves into religion. While this isn't a cult the way you typically think of them, there is an underlying current that can sweep you away into that territory.  I never subscribed to the religion the way Carly Gelsinger did, but I felt every single feeling she felt.  The apprehension, the feeling that I'm not doing this the right way, I'm not as good a Christian as everyone here.  Religion gives you a great amount of belonging and acceptance from people, as long as you're participating the same way everyone else is. That therein lies the danger.

I devoured this book in two days.  There is nothing too extreme about the situations she's in, there's no murder or poisoned kool-aid, but is definitely anxiety producing.  You are rooting for her the whole way to snap out of the fog that's consumed her.  That's not to say that religion is bad, but it's not a one size fit all belief system.  It goes to show that when your gut is telling you that something is not right and doesn't suit you, you need to listen.
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I was pleasantly surprised to find myself so invested in the characters of this memoir. This was a great read about a "crazy for Jesus" teenager & her life inside her religious "cult". 

The verbage at the beginning of the book had me a little put off. I felt as if I was reading straight out of Carly's 7th grade journal. I completely understand this is a memoir and the author purposely did this to convey her adolescent thinking. However as a reader, you either really enjoy this  writing style or you don't, with myself being the latter. 

I appreciate the author being raw with her feelings & questionings -that plagued her from the moment she was first introduced to this group. At times I felt as though I could almost feel the energy seeping out that small church of  "radical, Jesus-Loving "freaks" . It felt real. 

The small-town girl in me is left with questions...... What happened to Jessa & Jacob? What events led to Lauren's fallout with the group? Would love to know more about Dahlia's personal story during the 10 years y'all were separated.

Thank you for sharing your story, it unfolded into an interesting & thought provoking read.
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