Jessica Wilbanks - WHEN I SPOKE IN TONGUES

Saturday, November 17, 2018 - 7:00pm
2421 Bissonnet St
Houston, TX 77005

Jessica Wilbanks will be in conversation in Kimberly Meyer, author of The Book of Wanderings. 

A memoir of the profound destabilization that comes from losing one's faith--and a young woman's journey to reconcile her lack of belief with her love for her deeply religious family.

Growing up in poverty in the rural backwoods of southern Maryland, the Pentecostal church was at the core of Jessica Wilbanks' family life. At sixteen, driven by a desire to discover the world, Jessica walked away from the church--trading her faith for freedom, and driving a wedge between her and her deeply religious family. 

But fundamentalist faiths haunt their adherents long after belief fades--former believers frequently live in limbo, straddling two world views and trying to reconcile their past and present. Ten years later, struggling with guilt and shame, Jessica began a quest to recover her faith. It led her to West Africa, where she explored the Yorùbá roots of the Pentecostal faith, and was once again swept up by the promises and power of the church. After a terrifying car crash, she finally began the difficult work of forgiving herself for leaving the church and her family and finding her own path.

When I Spoke in Tongues is a story of the painful and complicated process of losing one's faith and moving across class divides. And in the end, it's a story of how a family splintered by dogmatic faith can eventually be knit together again through love.

Jessica Wilbanks is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize as well as creative nonfiction awards from Ninth LetterSycamore ReviewRedivider, and Ruminate magazine. In 2014, she was selected as a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Journalism. Jessica received her MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Houston, where she served as nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and son.

Kimberly Meyer teaches in The Human Situation sequence for the Honors College at the University of Houston as well as courses in Creative Writing. Her essays and poetry appear in a variety of journals and magazines including The Best American Travel Writing, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, Ecotone, The Oxford American, The Georgia Review, Agni, The Southern Review, and Third Coast. An audio-documentary she produced aired on Public Radio International's This American Life. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has been awarded a Houston Arts Alliance grant and an Inprint/Michener Fellowship in Non-Fiction, and she has received fellowships to attend the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference and the Vermont Studio Center. Her memoir, The Book of Wanderings (Little, Brown), recalls the journey she and her eldest daughter made by retracing a medieval pilgrimage route to the Holy Land and St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai Desert the summer after the Arab Spring. You can read some of her writing at her website: (Ph.D., University of Houston)

When I Spoke in Tongues: A Pentecostal Girlhood By Jessica Wilbanks Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807092231
Availability: Unlikely to Be Available
Published: Beacon Press - November 13th, 2018