Accidental Jesus Freak:
One Woman's Journey from Fundamentalism to Freedom

by Amber Lea Starfire

MoonSkye, 2018. ISBN 978-0-999-44410-8.
Reviewed by Pat Bean
Posted on 05/07/2018

Nonfiction: Memoir

It was with eager anticipation that I picked up Starfire's most recent book, Accidental Jesus Freak. It didn't disappoint, although the title, I concluded after reading the book, is clearly an exaggeration. The author never came off as a freak, simply a woman in love who got caught up in wanting to support her man. It was what women did in the 1970s.

Starfire's book takes us on a rollercoaster ride in search of self, and deep into a soul that is looking for meaning and purpose. It pulls no punches to soften the blows of a life that doesn't live up to expectations. In many ways, Starfire, who still went by her birth name of Linda during this period of her life, is me, or any woman who went down a path that didn't resonate with herself, but continued to hang on because that was what she was supposed to do.

Throughout Linda's journey with her college lover and then-husband, the charismatic Eric, she is continually struggling to make do: living in a van, moving in with others, and being a mother while frequently changing one home or state, or even one country, for another. Through it all, she has high hopes that a better day is ahead.

While this book focuses on Linda's faith and religion, it is the story of all women who have rejected their doubts and tossed themselves away to follow another person's path. There were many times I recognized my younger self in Starfire's book. Once I began reading it, I stayed up well into the early hours of the morning to finish. I simply couldn't put it down.

The author's complicated relationship with her unconventional mother, the subject of her first memoir, continues in Accidental Jesus Freak. While only a peripheral focus of the book, this relationship is telling because it is part of Linda's story—a story of giving parts of herself away to someone whose path in life is not the one she wants to travel.

Accidental Jesus Freak ends with Amber Lea Starfire (in a postscript, she explains why she renamed herself) feeling again like the little girl she once was, "twirling and twirling under the wide-open sky." But I know this is not the end of her story. It's easy to learn some of what follows on her social media pages—but perhaps there will one day be a third memoir.

I can't wait to read it.

Amber Lea Starfire is an award-winning author, editor, and writing coach in Napa, California. "Bringing truth and creativity into the world—and empowering others to do the same—is the work of my life, she writes on her website.

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