Cover Image: Finding Sunlight

Finding Sunlight

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Member Reviews

Being in the closet is bad enough, but how about being in the closet when your family has evangelical Christians? Public schools are labeled as corrupt, gay people go to hell, and no one can ask questions. Sure, Chrissy's dad shows them the joy of gardening and nature when not participating in the church or managing a co-op to homeschool his kids, but that's not a panacea for church at camp, in school, and at home 24/7. You have to trust in God on the good bad bad days alike. And Chrissy has to listen to her dad, despite her sister Amber arguing that she wanted to be in public school.

You can already tell this is going to be a tough story. It does cover homophobia, religious trauma, and domestic abuse. Chrissy had to unlearn a lot of stuff while observing that the arbitrary rules didn't make sense, yet not having the space to question anything. Romance novels are okay, but rock and roll isn't. Drums are considered evil because drummers are evil, but there's Christmas songs about drummers at Jesus's birth. But Dad's word is law. It doesn't matter if his rules make sense.

Then we have Amber, who seems to be the MVP of the sisters. Amber keeps trying to push for a normal life, more for herself than her sisters. She wants drums, soccer, and public school, and paves the battles for her siblings in the future. Chrissy only understands later as an adult that while Amber was fighting to save herself, she also showed another way.

It'd be very easy to condemn Chrissy's father as someone brainwashing others into a cult; he's still someone that takes his daughter fishing and truly believe he's doing the right thing. Chrissy's grandparents aren't exactly prizes either, with their emotional abuse and shouting. Everyone hides the truth, while the adults claim they know what's right. Chrissy doesn't know who to trust, only to obey. She has to grow out of that shell

One problem is that the Kindle formatting is very wonky. The font keeps changing in various sizes. I hope that's fixed in later editions.

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This one spoke directly to me. Growing up in a similar atmosphere as Chrissy really felt like this was partially my memoir as well. I can see this being a very popular book in my library.

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Finding Sunlight is about a young person’s search to find their truest self amidst the weight of religious rules and expectations that were placed on them during their childhood. With complete transparency, they share how their relationships with family members, friends, and romantic partners were impacted by confusion, guilt, shame, anger, and sadness. This is the story of how they navigated and overcame difficulties to eventually obtain genuine happiness and self-acceptance.

At times, it felt like I was reading my own memoir as Chrissy described their religious upbringing. I can imagine a lot of people resonating with the themes of shame, doubt, fear, control, and hypocrisy. Though heart-breaking at times, I enjoyed reading about Chrissy's experiences and how they eventually led to self-discovery, authenticity, and their “sun." I applaud Chrissy's courage in sharing their story. My only critique is that there were several summarizations throughout the book that I felt were unnecessary. In my opinion, they contributed to redundancy and repetitiveness. Lastly, I want to note that I read this book, but think it will be excellent as an audiobook too!

Trigger warnings:
Religious trauma/purity culture, sex and sexuality, alcohol use, divorce, coarse language, domestic violence/physical abuse

Recommended for readers interested in: memoirs, biographies, coming-of-age stories, mental health, faith deconstruction

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Chrissy Holm's "Finding Sunlight" is a poignant and brave coming-of-age memoir that digs deep into the complexities of growing up within the confines of purity culture, wrestling with LGBTQ religious trauma, and navigating a patriarchal father-daughter relationship. This is a story that will resonate with many readers, regardless of their background, as it explores the universal themes of love, identity, forgiveness, and self-discovery.

Holm's story begins in a world where the church's rigid doctrines dictate the rules of women's relationships: respect the sanctity of marriage, save yourself for your husband, and never consider the possibility of having a wife. Raised in such an environment and homeschooled within the church, Chrissy internalized these strict messages, suppressing her bisexuality and adhering to the teachings of purity culture.

However, her world is turned upside down at sixteen when her parents' divorce shatters the stability she once knew. Struggling to reconcile her beliefs and values, Chrissy embarks on a tumultuous journey through relationships, seeking commitment and solace to cope with the creeping depression that threatens to consume her.

Holm lays bare her innermost struggles, doubts, and vulnerabilities. Readers who have grown up in evangelical or fundamentalist religious communities will find solace in these stories as Chrissy grapples with the religious upbringing that shaped her and embarks on a quest for forgiveness — for her father, her past relationships, and most importantly, herself.

Throughout the memoir, Holm's narrative voice is intimate and hopeful. She invites readers into her world with a warmth that feels like a heartfelt conversation with a close friend. Holm's courage reveals that she not only questions the beliefs she was raised with but also unearths her own truth and embarks on a journey to love herself authentically.

"Finding Sunlight" is a liberating memoir. It shows how one woman found the courage to challenge deeply ingrained beliefs, forgive the past, and ultimately, embrace her true self. Holm's journey is an inspiration to anyone who has ever questioned the path laid out for them and sought the sunlight of self-acceptance and love.

In the end, "Finding Sunlight" is a powerful reminder that life doesn't come with a map or directions for relationships, love, religion, or God. We stumble, we get lost, but we keep searching for the sunlight. Chrissy Holm's memoir is a beacon of hope for those who dare to embark on the journey of self-discovery and embrace their truth with pride.

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Finding Sunlight was a meaningful memoir from a talented writer. Chrissy is brave for writing about the experiences they faced growing up with the church and a father that wasn't traditional. Meaning they didn't have a relationship like I had with mine or most of my friends did. Theirs was different. I think that's why I enjoy reading memoirs so much. They're a glimpse into other people's worlds. Well done! Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC. Four stars.

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