Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear by Jinger Vuolo (Review)

Jinger Vuolo, nee Duggar, has always been strong-willed and individually self-minded, despite growing up in a strict, devout Christian family. I have loved the family since I was young, and I have enjoyed watching each of the 19 Kids and Counting children to journey through life themselves, exploring their own paths, so I will always support each of them in all their endeavours: television, YouTube and books. 

As a child, Jinger loved coffee, which was somewhat shocking and against many of the previously mentioned values. She met former professional soccer player Jeremy Vuolo, then fell in love while on a mission trip to Central America in 2015, arranged by her relatively new brother-in-law. The couple married and have two daughters. She was the first daughter to leave the family home state and move to the big city. She now lives in LA, the busiest city of them all. Despite everything, she still seems close to many of her siblings, especially her sisters who regularly visit her as they share on their family YouTube channels. 

When I saw this book being released, I thought it would be a tell all book about escaping the cult-like way of her families, but instead Jinger focusses very much on her own journey of quite literally doing what the title of the book describes "Disentangling Faith from Fear". 

"In Becoming Free Indeed, Jinger shares how in her early twenties, a new family member--a brother-in-law who didn't grow up in the same tight-knit conservative circle as Jinger--caused her to examine her beliefs. He was committed to the Bible, but he didn't believe many of the things Jinger had always assumed were true. His influence, along with the help of a pastor named Jeremy Vuolo, caused Jinger to see that her life was built on rules, not God's Word. Jinger committed to studying the Bible--truly understanding it--for the first time. What resulted was an earth-shaking realization: much of what she'd always believed about God, obedience to His Word, and personal holiness wasn't in-line with what the Bible teaches. Now with a renewed faith of personal conviction, Becoming Free Indeed shares what it was like living under the tenants of Bill Gothard, the Biblical truth that changed her perspective, and how she disentangled her faith with her belief in Jesus intact."

I would start by saying that whilst Jinger may have felt some trauma from her experiences, the title does imply some catastrophic events occurred, whilst Jinger doesn't ever portray that throughout the book. She instead more so explains about how there's a lot of concepts she dutifully accepted without question, yet on reflection fundamentally disagrees with. She goes in depth on the teachings of Bill Gothard, the effects it had on her life growing up, and how she separated her faith from the things taught.

I have heard the odd story about Gothard's teaching, mainly through the information chosen to be shared by the Duggar family, but I hadn't truly delved into the history until this book came out and it did give me a new sympathy for those that suffered. Whilst the religion is still ongoing, it's lost the momentum it once had. 

While I appreciate her Christianity which seems to be a pillar of every part of life, I was a little disappointed in the content of the book as a whole. The entire book focussed on Gothard's teaching and how it awful it was, but instead of sharing the true horrors of her life, she bypasses them and repeatedly goes over the same point over and over again. I would have liked to have more a personal reveal, rather than a generalisation. Of course, I would just add she warns straight away that it isn't a "tell all", but I still expected more. 

I'm not a religious person, in fact I am the complete opposite, however I do think this unique take will be great from individuals struggling with their faith. A lot of religions do have a lot of associated trauma, and people end of leaving God altogether. It's a great path example where Jinger disentangles the lies from the truth and faith. I think it would be useful to those trying to figure out their own beliefs.

My biggest complaint is that I can't help but feel the cover is really contradictive and I struggle to explain why. First of all, I love that Jinger has trousers on which is something the original teachings very much frowned upon so this feels like a very rebellious move, making a clean break from the aforementioned faith. What I don't love is the fixed and stationary position which doesn't imply freedom and the rigid background. I also feel the baby pink shade, connotes gentle femininity and not female strength. 

Overall, I love the honesty Jinger shares but in the most sensitive way. I appreciate the efforts she goes to to ensure that she shares from the heart, about her life from childhood to adulthood, but in a tasteful way. Of course, she can't completely remove herself from the family she grew up in, but she doesn't mention them directly. I do however wish that she didn't relate all her trauma to the teachings of Gothard and instead blamed those who were truly wrong.