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When I Spoke in Tongues

A Story of Faith and Its Loss
Narrated by: Frankie Corzo
Length: 7 hrs and 31 mins
5 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Summary

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.

Growing up in poverty in the rural backwoods of Southern Maryland, Jessica Wilbanks and her family built their lives around the Pentecostal church. At 16, though, 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 worldviews and trying to reconcile their past and present. Ten years after leaving home, struggling with guilt and shame, Jessica began a quest to recover her faith. It led her to West Africa, where she explored the Yorùbán roots of the Pentecostal religion and was once again swept up by the promises and power of the church. After a terrifying car crash, Jessica finally began the difficult work of forgiving herself for leaving the church and her family and for 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. In the end, it’s a story of how a family splintered by dogmatic faith can eventually be knit together again through love.

©2018 Jessica Wilbanks (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“Wilbanks’s slow deconstruction of her family-given religiosity is an evocative inversion of the average spiritual journey.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“This debut memoir conveys a down-home feel with a literary voice.” (Library Journal)

“An earnest account of an adult maintaining ties with her family of origin.” (Kirkus Reviews)  

“Wilbanks writes with a journalist’s keen eye, capturing the loving chaos of her family’s house and the fervent, bombastic clamor of revival meetings in both the US and Nigeria.... Her narrative provides a fascinating glimpse into a faith subculture whose popular image is often reduced to arm-waving televangelists. But even more compelling is Wilbanks’s honest rendering of the profound uncertainty that comes after leaving behind a place that hasn’t changed, but is no longer home.” (Shelf Awareness

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