Monday, May 9, 2016

I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah’s Witness Upbringing by Kyria Abrahams

Reviewed by Christy H.

            Equal parts fascinating, amusing, and depressing, Kyria Abrahams reveals what life was like growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness with parents in a dysfunctional and loveless relationship. As a young child she is excited and dedicated to her religion but as she grows older and increasingly unhappier, she finds it harder and harder to stay committed – not only to her faith but to her own ill-advised, unhappy marriage.

            This is an interesting memoir because Abrahams does not try to paint herself in an overly sympathetic light. She is selfish, impulsive, unbelievably immature, and makes bad decision after bad decision seemingly without learning from her mistakes. Still, it’s not that difficult to feel sorry for her. She’s an alcoholic high school drop out with no discernible life skills who married as a teen to someone she didn’t love to get away from her parents. 

Sometimes she cuts herself. She’s never been on a job interview; she’s never even filled out a resume. All the more incentive to stay at her current job even though she works with her estranged father and shares a desk with her soon-to-be ex mother-in-law (who spends her work hours constantly berating Abrahams.) Because she wants a divorce she thinks (and is told) she is going to Hell. She’s in danger of being excommunicated from the only community she’s ever really known. She is only in her early 20s.

            Abrahams is able to find brief moments of solace, however, in poetry and comedy. The book itself has self-awareness and a self-deprecating, head-shaking tone. While it’s never quite laugh out loud funny the humor does help balance, without detracting from, the darkness of her depression and situation.  I enjoyed this memoir quite a bit but I do wish it ended with more closure, although I know life is messy and conflicts don’t wrap themselves up in neat little bows. After spending so much time with Kyria, however, it would’ve been nice to know the steps she took to get healthier and happier – which I’m hoping she did.

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