When I Spoke in Tongues

Book Cover

Publication Date: November 13, 2018 (pre-order at the link below)

A memoir of the profound destabilization that comes from losing one’s faith—and a young woman’s journey to reconcile her lack of belief with her love for her deeply religious family. (Beacon Press)

Growing up in poverty in the rural backwoods of southern Maryland, the Pentecostal church was at the core of Jessica Wilbanks’ family life. At sixteen, driven by a desire to discover the world, Jessica walked away from the church—trading her faith for freedom, and driving a wedge between her and her deeply religious family.

But fundamentalist faiths haunt their adherents long after belief fades—former believers frequently live in limbo, straddling two world views and trying to reconcile their past and present. Ten years later, struggling with guilt and shame, Jessica began a quest to recover her faith. It led her to West Africa, where she explored the Yorùbá roots of the Pentecostal faith, and was once again swept up by the promises and power of the church. After a terrifying car crash, she finally began the difficult work of forgiving herself for leaving the church and her family and finding her own path.

When I Spoke in Tongues is a story of the painful and complicated process of losing one’s faith and moving across class divides. And in the end, it’s a story of how a family splintered by dogmatic faith can eventually be knit together again through love.

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