Trespassers will be Baptized tells the story of Elizabeth Emerson Hancock’s early childhood as the oldest daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher living in Kentucky. Miss Em was a precocious little girl who grew up certain that she knew exactly the way it was, only to find out that even her parents weren’t always so sure. It is her experiences coming to learn and understand how her parents, most especially her father, live within the spaces between their holy” (public) life and their “human” (private) life that make this memoir interesting and applicable to almost anyone who once was a child.
Although you should never judge the book by its cover, I really feel as though I got exactly what I was eagerly anticipating from the moment I first held the book in my hand. Hancock tells her story in a vivacious manner that pokes fun at her childhood notions and background while honoring it all at the same time. She sheds light on what it is like to grow up in a Southern Baptist home, but also provide insight on girls coming of age in the early to mid-1980s.
The stories she tells specific to her religious upbringing ring true, but so do her experiences as an oldest child. She brought back so many memories for me. I laughed as much at her story about fishing a pair of acid washed Guess jeans out of the Missions box for herself as I did about times when I used my advanced reasoning with my younger siblings to get them to go along with my schemes. Once I convinced myself that what I was setting out to do was okay, I could often easily recruit the rest to go along with me. The tricky part was working it so that they would get the blame if we were caught…
I very much enjoyed my time reading Trespassers will be Baptized. It was well paced and smoothly written. I reminded me of how much I enjoyed reading A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel. It’s nice to read about childhood experiences that weren’t traumatic or abusive. Living in a Southern Baptist area, I am happy now to know a little more about how my neighbors might have been brought up and some of the characters they might have encountered at church. Even still, despite doctrinal differences, growing up in an religious yet open home and regularly attending church is more alike than it is different. I would most definitely recommend this book.
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