This week, I'm presenting a few of the books I really loved when I reviewed them for Publisher's Weekly, focusing on books that are at least two years old and that weren't hugely popular.
I should begin this recommendation by noting that I am a PK (a Preacher's Kid). PKs consider themselves very special, and, frankly, we are. To make a generalization that is breathtakingly broad, PKs tend to be smart, socially adept (we generally have what folks call "good manners" from talking to so many elderly church ladies, God love 'em), and the possessors of a distinct sense of humor (one part irreverence, one part sly, two parts goofy). PKs end up with many of the characteristics of only children, even if we have siblings, because to members of the church, we are the Golden Children to be Adored. Furthermore, we tend to be close to our siblings because we've gone through a really weird childhood together, and we are often friends with other PKs (met 'em at church camp, church retreats or synod conventions...) so we become a bit of a gang. Also, we tend to be extremely clear-eyed about the failings of people, and, in turn, of churches. Yet many of us are also quite spiritual and/or religious, too. It's an interesting personality.
Elizabeth Emerson Hancock, a PK, captures her own riff on this personality in her book, Trespassers Will Be Baptized. The title is helpful, by the way: did you think it was funny? Then you'll most likely enjoy this book. No? Don't read it.
When I first got this book from PW, I was hit by a wave of jealousy: this PK had gotten her book published! When would I get MY memoir (which, um, didn't yet exist) published?! I had not yet learned that someone else's success is not my failure. Anyway, I very begrudgingly began to read it: not only was it about a PK who was NOT ME but it was a "humor" book (discussed last post).
Well, it won me over. Hancock not only captures the life of a PK, she also has written a book that's sort of a love/hate letter to the South, as her father was a Southern Baptist minister. It's not a perfect book, by any means, but Hancock is able to capture quite a bit of her childhood in winning stories. My favorite is a piece about how she stole Guess jeans from the Africa donation box. I have a specific memory of lifting a cashmere scarf from the Clothing for the Homeless pile, so what can I say? It rang true.
This is a fun read, for sure -- low-key, mildly thought-provoking and very enjoyable!