Note: I received a digital copy of Facing the Music from NetGalley for review consideration.
For those of you who didn’t grow up listening to Contemporary Christian Music (CCM), Jennifer Knapp is a former CCM artist who rose to relative fame in the late 1990’s and disappeared in disgrace, amongst rumors that she was in a homosexual relationship. I remember listening to Jennifer Knapp’s music growing up, and I even vaguely remember the scandal of her disappearance, so when I saw that she would soon be publishing a memoir, I knew I had to read it. Luckily, NetGalley had the book available, and I was soon on my merry way and reading it.
I was amazed by what I learned about Jennifer Knapp in this book. She was raised in an emotionally and verbally abusive (or close to it) household with her father and his second wife, while her twin sister left to move in with their mother when the girls were preteens. Jennifer decided to stick it out in a tough situation because she had just discovered her first love—music. She became a talented trumpet player, winning awards across the state, and begged her music teachers to teach her how to play more instruments. One day, however, her plans were derailed, and in desperation, she turned to alcohol and sex to ease the pain. She became an alcoholic, using sex as a currency to buy her more booze, and it wasn’t until a concerned college dorm mate convinced Jennifer to go to therapy, get involved in AA, and become a Christian that Jennifer began to turn her life around.
From there, Jennifer documents the rise of her musical career in CCM, as well as the pressure to be a perfect Christian role model and to never make a mistake. Eventually, this led to her sudden dropping out of the Christian music scene and her brand-new relationship with a woman named Karen.
Now, I have my own views on Christianity and homosexuality, and you’re free to ask me about them privately if you’d like. But the one thing that I loved about this memoir was that it invites the reader to ask questions and think deeply about these issues, rather than simply offering up answers. Jennifer struggles deeply with questions of how her Christian faith should stay in her life, or even if it should. She questions the typical “churchy” answers she has received, and she struggles with how the followers of Jesus, who was described as a loving redeemer, can be so judgmental. The book left me with questions, but in a good way, because I think that everyone, no matter what their beliefs, should dig deeply into them and understand where those beliefs are coming from and whether they have merit.
If you are offended by those who claim to be both homosexual and Christian, this is definitely not the book for you. Also, if you know and care nothing about CCM, you probably won’t enjoy it either. But if you’re interested in Jennifer Knapp’s life and viewpoints, and if you’re willing to ask questions, whether or not you end up agreeing with Jennifer’s beliefs and actions, I think this book is worth your time. It was interesting, informative, and intriguing from start to finish.
Rating: Pretty Darn Good