Leaping from the Burning Train

An ode to reading and writing, lurking inside an account of questing faith—or perhaps the other way around. Why read spiritually-minded prose by a poet? Because the poet tells us that Alice Munro’s short stories have been, for her, a means of grace. Because she tells us that reading is a sacrament. That we might “quarry our own lives for images instead of buying. . .ready-made ones.” I feel lucky to be Jeanne Murray Walker’s friend. I feel even luckier to be her reader.

—Lauren Winner, author of The Dangers of Christian Practice 

Nowadays, when dark, Dickensian memoirs about growing up in fundamentalism abound, Jeanne Murray Walker’s loving look backward at the community that raised her is both enthralling and inspiring. She manages to honor those she refers to as “my people,” while offering up—sometimes sorrowfully, sometimes hilariously, but always in gorgeous and incisive detail—the actual facts of the matter. I am grateful for this achingly beautiful book.

—Paula Huston, author of A Land Without Sin and The Hermits of Big Sur

Jeanne Murray Walker’s poetic insights and her detailed, dynamic, and often self-revelatory prose, show us as a writer we need to know and honor. This memoir is more than a chronicle of an entrance into a life of poetry; it is a significant addition to the literature of spirituality.

—Luci Shaw, author of Reversing Entropy and An Incremental Life