In Where the Light Fell, I reveal the details of my impoverished upbringing in the South and a secret that set me on a search to understand the truth of my family and the culture in which I was raised. It’s a kind of prequel to everything else I’ve written, the story of my widowed mother finding security and purpose in a strict fundamentalist faith that fought against everything: integration, Communism, the social changes of the 1960s, her wayward sons. By reading this previously untold story, you’ll understand why my books have so often centered on the themes of suffering and grace. In this, my most personal book, I examine the nature of love—how a mother’s love can get tested to the breaking point; how the love of a community can be turned against outsiders; how the love of God can be obscured by those who speak in God’s name; and how love yet manages to find us against all odds.
So many of the strands from my childhood—racial hostility, political division, culture wars—have resurfaced in modern form. Although you will recognize an origin story of sorts for today’s social and political divides, at its heart this is a book about the possibility of healing and the hope that nothing in a person’s life need go to waste.
(Convergent Books, 2021)
“Searing. Heartrending. In his gorgeous memoir, Philip Yancey finally reveals the story behind his relentless quest to separate a true faith from its counterfeit. He learned the value of grace—because he was denied it. This stunning tale reminds us that the only way to keep living is to ask God for the impossible: love, forgiveness, and hope.”
Kate Bowler, New York Times bestselling author of Everything Happens for a Reason and The Preacher’s Wife
“One of the world’s finest Christian writers has written his most personal and gripping book. Where the Light Fell is a stunning memoir – beautifully written, transparent and vulnerable, raw and honest, evocative and unforgettable. It is a story of pain and redemption, of shattered lives and healing grace. Yancey’s remarkable ministry of empathy and grace can’t be understood apart from the wounds he sustained during his early life. His gifts have been shaped by his scars. Where the Light Fell is the book Philip Yancey had to write, and the book we needed him to write.”
Peter Wehner, former senior White House advisor; Contributing Writer, The Atlantic and New York Times
“A Memoir of Salvation Found and Lost”
“Where the Light Fell could be a Faulkner novel with racist preachers, off-kilter parenting, tormented siblings, and religious hypocrisy right and left. It’s not an overstatement to say this stunning memoir might be the miracle we’ve all waited for—a son of the South wrestles with racism and fundamentalism without resorting to caricature. I believed every word.”
Carolyn S. Briggs, author of Higher Ground
“A gripping memoir . . . Yancey’s eloquent descriptions of coming to faith and his exacting self-examination make this a standout. Exploring the corrosive role of fear in faith, Yancey’s piercing and painful account invites comparison to Hillbilly Elegy.”
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
“Like other super memoirs—Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes and Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club trilogy come to mind—Philip Yancey’s Where The Light Fell comes out of a place and time that is as peculiar as it is unexpected. The story of Yancey’s upbringing may come as a shock to his readers. It certainly should. In the end his spiritual awakening is both hard-won and miraculously given.”
Harold Fickett, Founder and CEO of Scenes Media
“Reading Philip Yancey’s memoir, I feel like I am journeying through my own childhood. My wife has banned me from reading the book in bed because I wake her up laughing or crying!”
Mathew P. John, author of The Unknown God: A Journey with Jesus from East to West
“Where the Light Fell was a pleasure to read. Set amid the changing landscape of America and the church in the 1950s – 80s, Yancey explores the joys and suffering of family pressures, poverty, fundamentalist religion, spiritual formation, difficult choices, forgiveness, and redemption. This well-crafted memoir is poignant, funny, challenging, and heartwarming. I highly recommend.”
Steven Elmore, President, C.S. Lewis Foundation
1] You are invited to join John Mark Comer and Philip Yancey in an exclusive preorder event. This will be a LIVE conversation on Zoom, accessible to anyone who has preordered the book. John Mark and Philip will be talking about doubt, love, fundamentalism, politics, race, and anything else that comes up, including the questions that you submit! We hope to see you there.
2] With the release of Philip’s memoir just a couple weeks away, we are thrilled to offer you a purchase bonus.
The new devotional from Philip Yancey, A Companion in Crisis, is yours FREE when you preorder Where the Light Fell.
Adapted from the writings of John Donne, this 30-day devotional directly addresses questions raised by the pandemic.
We trust it will bring you comfort and encouragement as you wait for Where the Light Fell to arrive in October.
• Preorder Where the Light Fell at any US retailer.
• After purchase, fill out the form at this link: YANCEY BONUS
• Watch your email. You will receive a message within 24 hours with your digital edition of A Companion in Crisis. (Just click DOWNLOAD to save as a PDF file.)
You are invited to attend an in-person book launch event on Thursday, October 7th, at the Aspen Grove Tattered Cover book store. Please click for details. We hope to see you there.