Atlas Girl {A Book Review}



This post is part of the Atlas Girl Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! 


I answered a question yesterday on Twitter:Writers: what’s the number one thing that motivates you to sit down and write?”  

I tweeted back almost immediately and my thumbs flew across my phone with these words – they came out of nowhere – as if my soul had conjured them from thin air.

“Truth? When I’m feeling my lowest. There is something about heartache bleeding into words that makes beauty.”

 Emily Wierenga  wrote a memoir that bled from her pain. For the last four days I have been immersed in Atlas Girl.  It has been a heart-wrenching four days and on Monday I had to stop reading because I had come so completely undone by her words, her story.  A story that has stirred up parts of my soul I long thought settled.

There is a shadow of my own story that is woven in Emily’s words.  And as her pain gave way to beauty,  her loss gave way to an aching and startling revelation of love and hope and vigilant victory I found myself visiting those parts of my own past, the ones that hint at tragedy and abuse.  Yet, this time the vivid recall of those moments came from a different place.

The past few years God has been leading me down a path of redemption and reconciliation – not just with my memories and my hurts but with the very people that were part of those hurts.  Tenderly, gently and with much care He has shown me how clinging to my rights of victim and holding it up like a placard for all to see was the very thing that was keeping me prisoner to my past.

Emily writes “You can’t be truly healed unless you re-visit the past.”

And there is so much truth in those words, but somewhere along the line I missed the concept of what a visit looks like and packed bags of anger, bitterness and regret and decided to move into my past for a very long and extended stay.

Atlas Girl has reminded me I can find redemption in those dark moments.  Alongside the bitter memories there are beautiful moments where His signature, His handiwork in my life  is evident.  For the last four days God has come and sat beside me on the couch for hours on end, my iPad resting on a pillow because my hands couldn’t hold the weight of it, as I finished Emily’s words.  For the past four days God has passed me kleenex after kleenex, been there as I sipped my way through countless cups of coffee and cried more tears than I have cried in a long, long time.

I have realized that in my desire to understand the story God has chosen for my life I was more interested in claiming my rights as victim than staking my claim in the happiness that also filtered through my childhood.  I came to realize that my singular focus on the abuse and abandonment has blurred the happier moments I know were part of my growing-up years. I came to realize along side hurt there was also laughter and I was having a harder and harder time remembering that joy, the memories but a blur in my mind. 

And, at the end of four days I can’t help but feel as if I have been hollowed out, as if there is a new room being built in my heart so I can see beauty alongside my pain and joy in the middle of some of my darkest moments.  I’m beginning to see these two things; beauty and pain, are so intrinsically woven together, we can’t live life to the outer edges without learning how dance with them both. 

Henri Nouwen said it best:

“Many of us are tempted to think that if we suffer, the only important thing is to be relieved of our pain.  We want to flee it all costs.  But when we learn to move through suffering, rather than avoid it, then we greet it differently.  We become willing to let it teach us.  We begin to see how God can use it for some larger end.  Suffering becomes something other than a nuisance or curse to be evaded at all costs, but a way into deeper fulfillment.” 

I see this now, the beauty and glory of my own story because God used Emily’s story to show me the grace of redemption and reconciliation.

You can grab your copy of Atlas Girl by Emily T. Wierenga HERE. 

Emily T. Wierenga, award-winning journalist and author of 4 books, has released her first memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look. They say the book is like “Girl Meets God” meets “Wild” meets “Eat, Pray, Love.” I say the book is inspiring.




  1. Wow. Undone over here. Thank you Tonya–just so moved by this.

  2. This is oh so powerful, Tonya! I am reading it too – and loving it – but taking it slow… savoring her story and how God uses it to shed light on my own… on our own… I love you friend! All is Grace!

  3. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Oh my heart sings when I hear stories that share how He redeems and how He speaks to hearts. Many blessings to you Tonya as your heart continues to heal and to hope. My own hearts resonate deeply with the sentiments you have shared!

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