What readers say

“unflinchingly honest, heart-filled memoir”

“An unflinchingly honest, heart-filled memoir that never falls into sentimentality, An Imperfect Rapture is a story of a girl born into a difficult family set in an economically precarious situation. Beard tells of a childhood tormented by her parents’ unpredictable rages, physical violence, and emotional cruelty. That this reality exists so deeply mixed with love is one of the central paradoxes she wrestles with throughout. Moving from one state to another, she fails to feel at home anyplace. There’s the unforgiving church in which her parents find solace and community, and in which the young author strives (unsuccessfully) to feel a part of.

If you enjoyed Sarah Smarsh’s Heartland, or Janise Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, you’ll love this book.”

— Amazon 5-Star Review

“Perfect Imperfection”

“Kelly Beard takes us by the hand and gently leads us into a dark and mysterious world. Troubling stories are handled with a deft touch – drawing us in but not forcing us to stare at the ugliness for too long. Her prose is bare in the best way, providing details that bring you into the room with an economy of language that keeps the story fresh. I could not put it down and eagerly await her next work.”

— Amazon 5-Star Review


“Beard’s moving prose conveys the emotional and physical scarcity of her youth. Against the landscape of the Pacific Northwest, we follow her family’s wanderings and Kelly’s search for meaning in the midst of it all. We root for her.”

— Amazon 5-Star Review

“Very easy flowing read”

“Loved this. Well written and honest. I wanted it to continue to see where she went next!”

— Amazon 5-Star Review

“not your usual memoir—that’s a good thing.”

“Full disclosure: I got this book at the Decatur Book Festival (2018) because a dear friend wrote it. Even when dear friends write books, I rarely review them because of likely bias. This time, I don’t care. Kelly Beard has written an amazing memoir about growing up poor (not for lack of skill or hard work) and fundamentalist (to the point of “knowing” that beloved family members must be going to Hell) in the Far West, tracking from California to Montana. The issues of class-consciousness (and cruelty), family dysfunction (NOT primarily about abuse because of alcohol, as such memoirs often are), the particular struggles of girls and young women in a world determined (and organized) to subjugate and exploit them, the failures of bad teachers and the successes of a very few in this enterprise we call American education (both public and private), heart-wrenching suicide, the almost unbelievably complicated peregrinations of a fine mind and a relentless spirit developing toward her early twenties–all of these in excellent prose, poetically informed with extraordinary memory and observation. My wife, who also loved the book, is almost visibly tired of my daily exclamations of how good this book is.”

— Amazon 5-Star Review

“A beautifully written memoir of surviving an ugly childhood and becoming an amazing adult “

“Kelly eloquently expresses the horrors that often come with a fundamental denomination based on fear and filled with brutality and narrow-mindedness. Her tale of surviving poverty, violence and a cult-like religion to explore the world and her own terms is raw and real. And it is hopeful. Showing how she overcame shows that children are often resilient and while we can’t change the circumstances we were born into, we can make our future on our own terms. It also reminded me that when we see well-educated, well-traveled professional people we don’t always know their story! #MustRead”

— Amazon 5-Star Review