RAPTURE PRACTICE is Aaron Hartzler’s memoir debut. The paperback version has the tagline: “A true story about growing up gay in an evangelical family,” which I think pretty much sums it up. But it’s about so much more. It’s heartfelt, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. And there are some serious laugh-out-loud funny moments. (But that might just be me.)
In this memoir, Hartzler recounts what it was like growing up in a strict Christian household. It starts when he’s three years old and acting in his first play as a dead child to being kicked out of a Christian high school two weeks before graduation for drinking. It’s a classic coming-of-age tale, but it holds so much more power. Hartzler doesn’t just have to deal with girls and self-discovery, but also rebelling against his parents’ strict Christian rules and not wanting to disappoint them. The memoir covers everything from sneaking out to movies (!), kissing girls (!), underage drinking (!!).
I grew up Catholic, so it was crazy to hear some of the things Hartzler dealt with as an evangelical Christian. I mean — he gets belted for listening to “secular music.” However, the memoir has a great message. Aaron is finally able to accept both himself and his father by the end of the story.
The writing is solid and fluid. It was extremely well-written. There were some great laugh-out-loud moments and some heartbreaking ones, as well. Both situations Hartzler handles with grace of a writer. I found myself really rooting for him to make it (and break out) by the end of the novel. So, in a way it does have a happily-ever-after ending. It also left me wanting to know WHAT HAPPENS NEXT??
Hartzler has two novels coming out soon, as well.
The paperback version >>
Rating: 7/10 stars