River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey

Random. Aug. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781400067305. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781984855411. REL
Catholic Sister Prejean (Congregation of St. Joseph; Dead Man Walking), who has spent years opposing the death penalty, offers this moving reflection in answer to a question she was once asked by a prison guard: “What’s a nun doing in a place like this?” Unlike other recent memoirs by former nuns who look back, if not in anger, but at least in disgust, Prejean’s work shows how she’s remained a faithful, although at times combative, religious sister, reflecting pensively on her past and how it has shaped her current outlook. This account reads almost like a letter from a friend; the author is candid about intimate details of her life, ruminating on the trials and tribulations she experienced in adapting to the changes wrought by the Second Vatican Council, and not shying away from speaking about the sexual revolution and its effect on many religions. She particularly recounts the church’s and her own movement toward a concern for social justice.
VERDICT A moving portrait of one Sister’s journey through change, and a meditation on how individuals and institutions grow and adapt. This will appeal to anyone who enjoys a forthright autobiography.

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