Book Reviews

What others have said about the book

Rachel Williams-Smith


Debra Kame

Awesome and riveting story! This woman has an inspiring story that will keep you spellbound! I would highly recommend this book!

Zora Banks

Your story answered some unanswered questions of my story. It has also been encouraging. Thanks for being brave enough to share it…You Rock!

Amazon Customer

A deeply personal story of extreme fundamentalism, love, betrayal, forgiveness, and transformation. You won’t want to put it down until you have finished it, and even then, you will want to know more.!

Ellen Didier, Founder & President of Red Sage Communications

The first thing that struck me is that Rachel and I are similar in age, yet her story could have taken place a century or two ago. How amazing that a person can experience what she experienced, and because of God and faith, find a path despite the challenges that is true and beautiful and honors the background, despite the ugliness! Her story is a story of faith triumphing, particularly around her search for transcending the rules of faith but not losing sight of the heart in faith.

Xulon Press manuscript editorial team

This well-written, autobiographical book is about religious extremism, a topic of universal importance in every age of human history. University professor Rachel Williams-Smith honestly tells the surprising story of her childhood, without sensationalism or self-pity. It is a specific story about her own particular past, but the themes will ring true for anyone who has ever desired to make or follow a detailed list of behaviors in order to live an exemplary life. Dr. Williams-Smith was in effect given such a list by her parents when she was a small child. The “list” contained everything from eating raw vegan foods for the purpose of ritual purity to being modest by wearing bonnets and long dresses. With such a comprehensive list, perfection was surely within reach in the mind of this innocent little girl. Such lists, however, are sure to bring shame and fear and isolation rather than perfection. The reader is uncomfortable, knowing that a dark and toxic reality must soon break through to the surface, and fearing the inevitable tragedy that will result. As the story unfolds, the humanity of each person, including the author, inexorably appears. Rather than heralding tragedy, these flowers of humanity somehow become a springtime of hope and strength as the author accepts the flaws in herself and others and realizes that she is valuable, beautiful, and loved with or without the list. Ultimately, this is the story of how a recognition of our mistakes, misunderstandings, and sins can open the way to redemption. Perhaps it is only when we find ourselves to be fully human that we recognize what is truly important: that we are loved, and that a gracious love for ourselves and others is infinitely more important than the ritual behaviors of religion. It seems incomprehensible that the frightening manifestation of religion that we see in the early chapters of this book could grow out of Christianity, the faith of those who claim to follow the way of Jesus. Extremism, however, arises in every religion and indeed in every sphere of human endeavor. It dehumanizes people and destroys all sense of scale and priorities. It reduces the importance of love and kindness to the level of things like wearing certain kinds of clothes or eating certain things. I highly recommend this book. We are wise to contemplate the nature of extremism. We are wise to look at our own hearts and religious beliefs, and to take an honest inventory of our self-worth, priorities, and regard for others

Luetilla Carter, Ph.D., retired psychology professor

The innocence of the child being needlessly rebuked for ‘being’ a child comes out during her early years. The harshness of well-meaning parents who went to the extreme in their beliefs. I was really sad when I shared those cold nights with her, and rain and snow in her bedroom. Yet there were some cute, touching, sweet sections—referring to Nimbo as her cat and dog in one, and her experience with leaves and conversations with ants were especially precious. I cheered when she stood up to her father. Enjoyed the ingenuity and creativity of her brothers—the radio for Lady’s Diana’s wedding was great! I am still glad they did not kill her during their play because there was something lacking in supervision!

Jeff Williams (author’s brother), graphics artist and entrepreneur

I give this book a rave review. Despite having been there I still found myself on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next as I read it!

Ruth Chiles

Excellent story and a very easy read.

Tracy Cook, an Oakwood College Classmate

I had the privilege of meeting Rachel back in the Spring of 1987, as a high school senior considering whether or not I was going to attend Oakwood University (known back then as Oakwood College) that fall. From the time I began my matriculation at Oakwood, until she graduated in 1990 and took a job with the Huntsville City School System, Rachel has been one my closest friends and was a source of encouragement, as we participated in campus ministry programs and were also student co-workers at what was then known as WOCG-FM (now WJOU). Rachel’s book “Born Yesterday” was for me a very inspirational, transparent, way of telling (in the words of the late Paul Harvey) “the rest of the story”. Anyone reading the book will be moved as they read her experiences as a girl living in the latter part of the 20th Century, in an atmosphere reflective of primitive times and seeing her grow into her own womanhood and her in her faith in the God who constantly demonstrated His love for her and His desire to prosper her and to give her a future with hope, in spite of the twists and turns that life brings with it. I can’t say much more except just read the book for yourself and see what it does for you. I shared portions of the book with my wife, and now I need to see when my iPad is free due to how it has lured her in!

Amazon Customer

Just finished reading the book! A riveting read of a strong woman who, through faith and determination, brings together a “patchwork” of experiences into a beautiful story. Her ability to be vulnerable and honest makes the life lessons she shares meaningful and valuable. I would recommend it particularly for those who have experienced the extreme conservative world and are working to syncretize with the outside world, as her depth of understanding is most helpful. Thank you, Dr. Rachel Williams-Smith!

Amazon Customer

What a wonderful story and soul-inspiring account of life! It was difficult to put down even for sleep. I highly recommend it for the beautiful prose, for the captivating storyline, and for the soul-searching encouragement.


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