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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Non-fiction Review: As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir

As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir, by Kay Bruner is not what I was expecting when I got it. It’s the true story of a missionary couple and their children who go to the Solomon Islands as Bible translators. They live among the native people in quite primitive conditions.

Kay tells how she struggles with adapting. She shares how hard she had always tried to do the right thing and be the right person. She describes interesting details about village life, travel, and customs and she comes across as real, with a sincere love for the people.

The author continues to provide a narrative of her experiences on the mission field. Her emotions begin to spiral downward due to extreme exhaustion and stress. Then, she discovers her husband has a porn addiction. At first, he only confesses to using porn those times she catches him, but she’s devastated when she finds out he’s had a six-year habit.

Their mission agency sent them home, promising to help them with counseling. “Counseling” ended up being a more-than-a-year long “evaluation.” Kay was in a very dark place, and she desperately needed help, not just evaluation. In the meantime, her husband did everything around the home and cared for her. She wasn’t able to function and was extremely depressed. Her husband stuck by her side, proving his love for her. All this time, they weren’t getting any counseling. They were only being analyzed. Finally, Kay reaches her lowest point. She describes it: “Once I fell, all the pain of all the years swept over me. There was no ability to reason, to consider, to perceive. I had no sense of purpose, no trust that something positive was coming down the road. Every good thing was behind me, in the past.”

Her epiphany comes with the revealed words “fear,” which she literally tacks to a cross, and “hope.” She just heard them in her mind. They didn’t come from Scripture.

I really thought this book was going to be about how God meets serious needs through His Word and about the author’s victory in Him. It ends woefully short of that. Though Kay’s life is much better, her marriage stronger, and the book ends with the translation of the Arosi New Testament being completed, I have a feeling that she still hasn’t found peace through true faith in Christ Jesus. I think maybe she knows Him, but she’s far from walking with God. It left me feeling sad.

I would imagine that their mission agency, along with many others, has come a long way since this book was written, about ten years ago. Today, missions are conscious that traumatized people need compassionate biblical counsel and care. I am thankful for that!

This is a book that tells a sad story. My heart truly goes out to the author.

I frankly can’t recommend As Soon As I Fell. It doesn’t edify; it only shares the author’s experience, which could have been so different if she'd sought the Bible instead of philosophy and other books and she had gotten appropriate care for her emotional-mental state from the beginning of her depression. I was also very disappointed with the dark quotes (about 80% of them) at the beginnings of the chapters.

Note: This book is for adults only. The author frankly describes female physical functions and the marital relationship, and she’s brutally honest about her husband’s porn use. It’s also transparent about their disappointments with their mission agency.

Note #2: I am not sure what kind of theology the author and her husband represent. It seems to be a branch of Protestantism. Several of the author’s statements, such as pouring as the mode of baptism, participating in the Stations of the Cross, Lent, etc. made me wonder what group they’re affiliated with. They end up being Methodists, but I’m not sure what they were at the beginning.



  1. Sounds like an incredibly sad story with not much resolution. I so agree that folks in this situation need compassionate care and help rather than analysis.

    1. Thank you, Barbara. Yes, it was sad--so much need and no help.


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