A Spiritual Misfit Stumbles
Toward God, Marginal Sanity,
and the Peace That Passes
Heather King has seen it all. She's hit bottom as an alcoholic waitress. She's reached the top as a Beverly Hills lawyer. But it's only when she embarks on a searching spiritual quest, quits her job, and becomes a Catholic -- and a writer -- that her true life begins.
In her passionate, gritty, and deeply moving new book, REDEEMED: Stumbling toward God, Sanity, and the Peace That Passes All Understanding (Penguin; ISBN 978-0-14-311506-9; $15.00; on sale January 27, 2009), King combines memoir with keen insights into the spiritual life.
Though an adult when she converts, the author comes to religion through a child-like sense of wonder, paradox, and awe. Smart, darkly funny, and self-deprecating, King writes of growing up in the sixties "not believing in much of anything," of two decades of hard drinking, of how -- sober, newly married, working as a lawyer, and desperately searching for meaning -- she one day walks into a Catholic church and encounters Christ: "A guy who hung out with lepers, paralytics, and the possessed...this is someone I can trust."
King writes poignantly of existential loneliness and the conflicted human psyche. During her marriage she finds herself holed up on the couch reading Convents of Southern France, then wondering why she and her husband weren't having sex. She tells of the breast cancer that brought her face-to-face with her mortality and the Virgin Mary. Perhaps she's at her most compelling when writing about the death of her father, the devastation of divorce, and the joys of the writing life. Throughout the narrative runs the thread of King's developing faith: monastic retreats, the cultivation of a prayer life, reflections on and insights into the Gospels, daily mass, and the value of a spiritual director. A voracious and eclectic reader, she quotes authors ranging from Kafka to St. Therese of Lisieux to the Desert Fathers.
King's gripping story of her unlikely conversion and the wonder of discovering the healing power of spirituality deftly mixes insight and divine faith in writing that is mystical, illuminating, and inspiring.
"This memoir deserves to be as popular as Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling 'Eat, Pray, Love.'"
- The Boston Globe
"As honest and raw as the model of the spiritual memoir, the Confessions of St. Augustine."
- Los Angeles Times
"An eloquent hymn of gratitude and wonder."
- National Catholic Reporter
"This is really the story of two callings - to faith and to a life's work...riveting depiction of a lost soul found."
- Kirkus Reviews
"King's faith sees beyond the pain: 'heaven is not some other world, but shot all through the broken world where we already live.'"
- Publishers Weekly
"A story with depth, rare balance, humor, and with a near-perfect eye for what is important, true to the perception that 'sin, degradation, and scandal aren't all that interesting,' but 'conversion is.' A conversion story along the lines of St. Augustine's classic. You'll learn how grace works."
- Ron Rolheiser, author of The Holy Longing and The Restless Heart
Los Angeles Times, "Divine Intervention," by Darcey Steinke:
February 24, 2008
Hearts & Minds Bookstore, heartsandminds.com, by Byron Borger:
February 26, 2008
National Catholic Reporter, "A Misfit's Insightful Confessions," by Rachelle Linner:
May 2, 2008
From America: The National Catholic Weekly, by Patricia A. Kossmann & Regina Nigro:
July 21, 2008
Insidecatholic.com, "Jesus Discovered," by Matthew Lickona:
November 14, 2008