It wasn't [my roommates'] fault that I had come to Northwestern a little tired, a little broken, a little unsure of who I was … How could they know that it had taken only two girls to welcome me into the evangelical world all those years ago in junior high? That just as easily, two girls could push me away from it?
The two girls who had welcomed Addie into the evangelical world were Kim and Alissa, her two best friends and minor characters throughout the book. They're sidekicks, around for the action as well as the hard times, and they act as steadying forces when Zierman's mind rushes with worry, doubt, or fear. They also throw Zierman's bachelorette party just before she marries Andrew, a smart, quiet guy she met as a college student. This part of the book was one of my favorites, mostly because it involved the church I grew up in: Willow Creek, "one of the country's largest evangelical megachurches." I doubt many people have gone skinny dipping in the man-made baptismal pond out front, but Addie, Kim, and Alissa did it that night, "ripping off our clothes and running toward the pond, leaving jeans and sandals and bras strewn haphazardly on the well-manicured grass." This scene is so compelling not only because of the personal connection, but because it perfectly captures both the camaraderie of young girlfriends and the rebellion of young Christians, which seems so treasonous when committed but, in retrospect, is almost entirely harmless and pure fun.
Slipping into Depression
After her first year of marriage, after a stint teaching English in China with a group of fellow Christians from an "ultraconservative college in Michigan," after the loneliness of a foreign country and arguments about the place of women in the church, after joining a house church on their return to the States and experiencing more legalism and niceness than truth and vulnerability, after all this—the realization hits. Zierman is slipping into depression.
In this section, Zierman deftly exposes the underbelly of the evangelical subculture, the way it values and rewards performance and loses track of those who do not or cannot perform. She is in the thick of depression now, and unable to unwrap its dark tentacles from her mind. But she is afraid of confessing her anguish, afraid of being told she just needs more faith, more prayer, more God.
Andrew, her husband, is growing increasingly frustrated with his inability to understand Addie's condition. In one especially touching scene, she draws a picture for him when words fail her—a line for her, a line for their house church, and a question about whether her trajectory will ever get back on course. "Andrew looks at the paper for a long time. I can tell from his face that he still doesn't understand. But he loves me. He loves me. And. He loves this church. I can see him battling as he thinks about it."