HOLY ROLLER: Growing Up in the Church of Knock Down, Drag Out; Or, How I Quit Loving a Blue-Eyed Jes

by Jacquelyn Lewis

In this memoir, Wilson tells her story with a voice so potent and clear you can almost hear her rural Texan drawl.

Before writing An Unreasonable Woman, an account of how her environmental activism got a chemical company to quit dumping waste into the Gulf Coast of Texas, Diane Wilson was a young girl scratching notes to Jesus into the paint of her small-town bedroom window. And this new memoir is strictly located in Wilson’s childhood, without any meddlesome hindsight tripping things up or even any foreshadowing of the dramatic heroism that would come in her adulthood.

Wilson is an impressionable young girl and the designated tagalong for a number of adventures with her shrimp-fisherman father, her ghost-whisperer grandfather, and the God-fearing women in her family. She spends a lot of this narrative getting preached to and trying to figure out if her uncle was killed, disappeared, neither, or both. She observes the practices of a snake-handling preacher and a crooked game warden, eyes and ears wide open.

Wilson finally speaks in writing this memoir, and she tells her story with a voice so potent and clear you can almost hear her rural Texan drawl. But the strength of her narrative voice illuminates the only drawback to this otherwise engaging book—she bears witness to these captivating people, places, and events, but as observer more than participant, so we are given a colorful report without ever really getting to meet our narrator. Despite the title, there’s minimal knocking down or dragging out, and she doesn’t lose her religion so much as question it, a little.

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