Reviews

“Demons and angels—as imagined, with real consequences…”

“Demons and angels—as imagined, with real consequences for those who imagine them—each make cameos in this memoir, fittingly paired, the heavenly and the hellish, because what keeps this memoir from being yet another trite addition to the genre of former fundamentalists musing on the empowerment experienced through exposure to the wider world of ideas (in this case, Greek tragedies discussed late night at Denny’s) is Beard’s attention to the peculiar dynamic of gratitude at the heart of the Foursquare Pentecostalism in which she was raised.”  READ FULL REVIEW

decomP Magazine Review

“Some wounds leave marks.”

“My mother saw demons,” begins Kelly J. Beard’s stunning debut memoir. Though I feared the narrator would show me the cruelty and violence of her parents’ chosen faith, she does so with such a commitment to understanding the sources of her family’s suffering that I had to follow her narrative.

Religious fundamentalism and poverty, the latter made worse by the former, fracture the narrator’s family into unrecoverable pieces. Only her parents appear unscathed by the “steel belt” of their faith. They remain devoted to each other, their intimate and loving relationship a stark contrast to the isolation of their children.”  READ FULL REVIEW

BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog Review

“Some wounds leave marks.”

“My mother saw demons,” begins Kelly J. Beard’s stunning debut memoir. Though I feared the narrator would show me the cruelty and violence of her parents’ chosen faith, she does so with such a commitment to understanding the sources of her family’s suffering that I had to follow her narrative.

Religious fundamentalism and poverty, the latter made worse by the former, fracture the narrator’s family into unrecoverable pieces. Only her parents appear unscathed by the “steel belt” of their faith. They remain devoted to each other, their intimate and loving relationship a stark contrast to the isolation of their children.” READ FULL REVIEW

BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog Review

“…gorgeous forthcoming memoir.”

“Right now, sitting on my nightstand under a lamp whose broken base makes the shade lean forward a bit too much, are the books I’ve read in the last couple of weeks or so and the ones I’m getting ready to read next. They are: the gorgeous forthcoming memoir “An Imperfect Rapture,” by Kelly J. Beard.”  READ FULL INTERVIEW

New York Times Interview featuring Andre Dubus III

“…memoir thrives on unexpected and vital imagery.”

“In the Foursquare Pentecostal Church in the 1960s, Kelly J. Beard’s mother saw demons, though those demons ended up being nothing like Beard’s childhood self imagined: “Instead, they will appear in fires and floods, in her family’s fractured lives, and in the carnage of their faith.” An earnest memoir about the destructive influences of poverty and fundamentalism, Beard’s An Imperfect Rapture bears witness to their legacy.

Beard’s parents were deeply invested in each other, often at the expense of their children. When they transformed into strict fundamentalists, the family entered a “spiritual and financial vise” with lasting repercussions. Theirs was a god who functioned as enabler and source of their fatalism, one whose answers to prayers begot a hopelessness and desperation so profound it’s abject.

Once her parents’ anger and unpredictability combined with a rigid sense of God and church as the only sources of community and trust, the dissonance of violence, neglect, and poverty wasn’t discussed. From authoritarian parents to abusive siblings, the trauma in this memoir is phenomenal and harrowing. The neglect ranges from benign to malign, and Beard delivers these horrors without ceremony, dropping them into her narrative almost casually.

Beard’s prose confers beauty on even the ugliest moments. The memoir thrives on unexpected and vital imagery: her father an “intermittent pulse of images held under water,” their Doberman pinscher pawing “the seam at the back door,” and people praying in tongues “woven through like silver through silk.”

Noting “I don’t think you can compare pain any more than you can compare love. I don’t try to compare theirs with mine,” Beard doesn’t distance herself from the miraculous or the horrific. Rather, she names both experiences as real and claims her heritage in each.”

Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers, Foreword Reviews

“…memoir thrives on unexpected and vital imagery.”

“In the Foursquare Pentecostal Church in the 1960s, Kelly J. Beard’s mother saw demons, though those demons ended up being nothing like Beard’s childhood self imagined: “Instead, they will appear in fires and floods, in her family’s fractured lives, and in the carnage of their faith.” An earnest memoir about the destructive influences of poverty and fundamentalism, Beard’s An Imperfect Rapture bears witness to their legacy.

Beard’s parents were deeply invested in each other, often at the expense of their children. When they transformed into strict fundamentalists, the family entered a “spiritual and financial vise” with lasting repercussions. Theirs was a god who functioned as enabler and source of their fatalism, one whose answers to prayers begot a hopelessness and desperation so profound it’s abject.

Once her parents’ anger and unpredictability combined with a rigid sense of God and church as the only sources of community and trust, the dissonance of violence, neglect, and poverty wasn’t discussed. From authoritarian parents to abusive siblings, the trauma in this memoir is phenomenal and harrowing. The neglect ranges from benign to malign, and Beard delivers these horrors without ceremony, dropping them into her narrative almost casually.

Beard’s prose confers beauty on even the ugliest moments. The memoir thrives on unexpected and vital imagery: her father an “intermittent pulse of images held under water,” their Doberman pinscher pawing “the seam at the back door,” and people praying in tongues “woven through like silver through silk.”

Noting “I don’t think you can compare pain any more than you can compare love. I don’t try to compare theirs with mine,” Beard doesn’t distance herself from the miraculous or the horrific. Rather, she names both experiences as real and claims her heritage in each.”

Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers, Foreword Reviews

“…memoir thrives on unexpected and vital imagery.”

“In the Foursquare Pentecostal Church in the 1960s, Kelly J. Beard’s mother saw demons, though those demons ended up being nothing like Beard’s childhood self imagined: “Instead, they will appear in fires and floods, in her family’s fractured lives, and in the carnage of their faith.” An earnest memoir about the destructive influences of poverty and fundamentalism, Beard’s An Imperfect Rapture bears witness to their legacy.

Beard’s parents were deeply invested in each other, often at the expense of their children. When they transformed into strict fundamentalists, the family entered a “spiritual and financial vise” with lasting repercussions. Theirs was a god who functioned as enabler and source of their fatalism, one whose answers to prayers begot a hopelessness and desperation so profound it’s abject.

Once her parents’ anger and unpredictability combined with a rigid sense of God and church as the only sources of community and trust, the dissonance of violence, neglect, and poverty wasn’t discussed. From authoritarian parents to abusive siblings, the trauma in this memoir is phenomenal and harrowing. The neglect ranges from benign to malign, and Beard delivers these horrors without ceremony, dropping them into her narrative almost casually.

Beard’s prose confers beauty on even the ugliest moments. The memoir thrives on unexpected and vital imagery: her father an “intermittent pulse of images held under water,” their Doberman pinscher pawing “the seam at the back door,” and people praying in tongues “woven through like silver through silk.”

Noting “I don’t think you can compare pain any more than you can compare love. I don’t try to compare theirs with mine,” Beard doesn’t distance herself from the miraculous or the horrific. Rather, she names both experiences as real and claims her heritage in each.”

Letitia Montgomery-Rodgers, Foreword Reviews

“This is, quite simply, a beautiful book.”

“Written with the spare, sensual, and deeply evocative prose of a master, this brave and ultimately transcendent memoir is an absolute gem. What Kelly J. Beard accomplishes here is stunning: by stepping nakedly back into her youth as the daughter of Christian fundamentalists, a life-long couple whose love for one another never seemed to wane, she also steps back into violence and neglect, poverty and the shame of the poor, the striving for one’s very selfhood when few seem to be able to help or pay much attention. And Beard renders all of this, and more, with a poet’s clear-eyed search for the truth. An Imperfect Rapture is a plaintive hymn of forgiveness, and it moved to tears many times over. This is, quite simply, a beautiful book.”

Andre Dubus III, author of Gone So Long and Dirty Love

“This is, quite simply, a beautiful book.”

“Written with the spare, sensual, and deeply evocative prose of a master, this brave and ultimately transcendent memoir is an absolute gem. What Kelly J. Beard accomplishes here is stunning: by stepping nakedly back into her youth as the daughter of Christian fundamentalists, a life-long couple whose love for one another never seemed to wane, she also steps back into violence and neglect, poverty and the shame of the poor, the striving for one’s very selfhood when few seem to be able to help or pay much attention. And Beard renders all of this, and more, with a poet’s clear-eyed search for the truth. An Imperfect Rapture is a plaintive hymn of forgiveness, and it moved to tears many times over. This is, quite simply, a beautiful book.”

Andre Dubus III, author of Gone So Long and Dirty Love

Kelly Beard’s debut memoir is not to be missed.

“From religion to love to death to demons to angels to discovering the secret mechanisms of forgiveness, An Imperfect Rapture is, in fact, rapturously perfect. Kelly Beard’s debut memoir is not to be missed.”

Connie May Fowler, author of Before Women Had Wings and A Million Fragile Bones

Kelly Beard’s debut memoir is not to be missed.

“From religion to love to death to demons to angels to discovering the secret mechanisms of forgiveness, An Imperfect Rapture is, in fact, rapturously perfect. Kelly Beard’s debut memoir is not to be missed.”

Connie May Fowler, author of Before Women Had Wings and A Million Fragile Bones

“A luminous debut.”

An Imperfect Rapture is transcendent—a story of personal grace and self-realization, one woman’s courageous path through the shadows of a fundamentalist youth. The memoir itself is a kind of prayer, a kind of promise, in which the vibrant prose shimmers, as in this passage, with “a dreamy quality, as though conjured from smoke, trailing the razor edge of reality…”

Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, author of Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams

“A luminous debut.”

An Imperfect Rapture is transcendent—a story of personal grace and self-realization, one woman’s courageous path through the shadows of a fundamentalist youth. The memoir itself is a kind of prayer, a kind of promise, in which the vibrant prose shimmers, as in this passage, with “a dreamy quality, as though conjured from smoke, trailing the razor edge of reality…”

Harrison Candelaria Fletcher, author of Presentimiento: A Life in Dreams

“…insightful, courageous book”

I am deeply shaken and moved by Kelly Beard’s conscientious, harrowing, and psychologically acute memoir of her childhood and youth. She evokes the confusing, abusive, fundamentalist world of her impoverished family with an eerie precision and clarity. An Imperfect Rapture is an insightful, courageous book.

Edward Hirsch, author of Gabriel: A Poem and The Living Fire

“…insightful, courageous book”

I am deeply shaken and moved by Kelly Beard’s conscientious, harrowing, and psychologically acute memoir of her childhood and youth. She evokes the confusing, abusive, fundamentalist world of her impoverished family with an eerie precision and clarity. An Imperfect Rapture is an insightful, courageous book.

Edward Hirsch, author of Gabriel: A Poem and The Living Fire

“Beard’s writing is vast, engulfing, accomplished.”

Haunting in its recall, this elegiac book spins through a galaxy of fundamentalism, poverty and mental illness. Instead of ‘coming of age,’ it’s a ‘coming to terms’ story, burning with desire to cut loose from a demon-possessed past. It’s an eyewitness account of what happened inside a dark house. Beard’s writing is vast, engulfing, accomplished. In many ways An Imperfect Rapture is itself a faith healing.

Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

“Beard’s writing is vast, engulfing, accomplished.”

Haunting in its recall, this elegiac book spins through a galaxy of fundamentalism, poverty and mental illness. Instead of ‘coming of age,’ it’s a ‘coming to terms’ story, burning with desire to cut loose from a demon-possessed past. It’s an eyewitness account of what happened inside a dark house. Beard’s writing is vast, engulfing, accomplished. In many ways An Imperfect Rapture is itself a faith healing.

Janisse Ray, author of Ecology of a Cracker Childhood