Holy Roller: Growing Up in the Church of Knockdown, Drag Out; or, How I Quit Loving a Blue-Eyed Jesus

Diane Wilson, Holy Roller: Growing Up in the Church of Knockdown, Drag Out; or, How I Quit Loving a Blue-Eyed Jesus
Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
2008, 210 pages, hardcover, $24.95

if the title of Diane Wilson's childhood memoir doesn't instigate a little laughter, then the following 210 pages may not either. However, if it does, Holy Roller: Growing Up in the Church of Knockdown, Drag Out; or, How I Quit Loving a Blue-Eyed Jesus can provide readers with a shrimp-slimed, Bible-beating rendition of the swampy, Pentecostal sea-path of Wilson's upbringing.

Best known for An Unreasonable Woman, the nonfiction account of her David-versus-Goliath environmental activism in South Texas, Wilson creates boisterous, unbalanced, and wholly authentic characters in this memoir. Behind each aunt or grandparent is an aching yet loving heart, and a mess of strange advice: "If you're asking Jesus for a Rolls-Royce but you only got bicycle faith, guess what you'll get? A bicycle!" Wilson breaks down this and other lessons she learned from her family with the humor and candor only a child's perception can provide.

Writing from this young perspective does create some deficiencies in plot and style. For example, the twang and excitement of a nine-year-old narrator often come at the expense of accepted syntax and cohesive story transitions, leaving readers to wonder if they missed something. Fortunately, these shortcomings are hard to see through the liveliness of Wilson's history and her humor in Holy Roller.

-Victoria Windsor

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