Angel In My Room: A Story Of Love, Compassion, And Forgiveness, by Betty Collier
[Note: This book was provided by BookLook/WestBow Press in exchange for an honest review.]
As the second book in the author’s Living Inside The Testimony series, which I was unfamiliar with before reading the book, this book provides a likely way to figure out how the series as a whole will look. The results are intriguing: this is a short book, written from the point of view of the third person, but reading more like an authorized biography that is the next best thing to a memoir for someone who lacks the patience or skill to write a memoir about themselves , and it is also a book that gives a noteworthy appreciation of the Pentecostal tradition from the point of view of the inside . It is a shame that the subject of the book, one Lillie Hopkins, felt unable to write the book herself, but Ms. Collins is a decent author herself and clearly has her way with words, making this a book that is worth reading at least for background material even if one does not agree with the Pentecostal slant of the material.
For those who are familiar with writings from the Pentecostal tradition, there is a great deal about this book that comes as no surprise. The story itself starts with a short narrative about Lillie’s upbringing, her desire to marry and have children, her having fornicated with a Mr. X who refused to marry her after she got pregnant or even pay any child support, the death of that child on his first day at life which gave Lillie a near death experience, Lillie’s struggle to forgive herself, her spiritual battle against demons which is vividly described, her serving as a prayer warrior for other believers, a declaration of easy believism about salvation, the expectation of heaven immediately upon death, a certain tendency for a proliferation of small churches and titles, the ease of people having their own ministries, and the like, in a series of more than a dozen very short chapters organized in a chronological fashion. The book combines the emotional impact of a memoir with a sense of distance in seeing it written in the third instead of first person that is typical of most memoirs of this kind. Even where the reader may disagree with the point of view of the writer and, presumably, the subject, the reader will likely have a great deal of compassion about Lillie’s struggle and suffering, may relate to her feelings of a biological clock ticking down and the difficulties of finding success in love and raising a family.
It is clear that this book, as short as it is, is part of a larger context. For one, it seems as if many people from the Pentecostal tradition appear to lack either the competence or the confidence to write their own personal memoirs on the level that is common among educated people in society. A feeling of the reality of spiritual warfare combined with a certain neglect for intellectual development create a tension between a desire to evangelize and a certain diffidence about being able to do so effectively. It is not difficult at all to imagine that those who, like the author, serve as important media figures within the larger Pentecostal movement have a particularly large role in the spread of stories about other Pentecostal figures, like Lillie herself. Additionally, there appears to be a family connection between the author and the subject of the book that is not revealed until the end of the book. At the beginning of the book the author states that Lillie was an interview subject on the author’s radio show, and at the very end of the show there is a statement that Lillie was one of the author’s mother’s sisters, which suggests a certain amount of nepotism in the choice, but one that would not be obvious unless someone read the supplementary material at the end of the book, which few readers are likely to do. At any rate, the book is a good one despite these concerns and shortcomings.
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