Craving Grace, by Lisa Velthouse. Hardcover.
Lisa Velthouse grew up trying to be the "perfect Christian girl" -- no drinking, no cursing, and always paying attention to her parents. She even wrote a book about her choice to not kiss until her engagement, 2003's Saving My First Kiss, which allowed her to begin a career of speaking at conferences and writing on church staffs. Everything about her life revolved around earning God's approval. And she was convinced that she had done that.
And then a few years later, at a sister's wedding, she broke the no-kissing vow. Convinced that she had lost God's favor, she spent years studying, seeking after, (and receiving) undeserved grace, both from God and from people. Craving Grace is her recounting of that search.
There are many Christian living books where the author will use occasional examples from their life to amplify their theological point. But I prefer books like this, where the author uses the memoir form to tell a very personal story, while also focusing on a particular aspect of faith or theology. Readers of Lauren Winner's books will recognize this format. Velthouse uses the recurring motifs of sheep and honey to tell her story, and her ability to return to these themes, and to continually elaborate upon them, demonstrates her skill as a writer.
The transparency and vulnerability that Velthouse shows in telling this personal story is impressive. She is able to bring the reader inside her head, and inside her heart, as she talks about her struggles to understand the nature of living in a Grace that is wholly underserved. One subplot in the story is her attempt to fast from sweets for a period of time. It was just good fortune that I read this book over Lent, but that added nicely to my own experience of the book.
The memoir portions of the book are not told chronologically, and this "jumping around" in time (the events of the book cover a three-year period) may be disconcerting to a reader who is used to reading a book like this in order. But that is a minor quibble; the book is excellent.