March Memoir Madness: More Than Conquerors
28 March 2014
by Megan Hustad
I really, REALLY enjoyed Megan Hustad's slim memoir More Than Conquerors: A Memoir of Lost Arguments. My enjoyment was made all the more sweet because I did not expect to like it much at all.
I do not read a lot of books on religion, and I do not typically enjoy religious or evangelical memoirs (although, yes, I continue to be charmed by Anne Lamott). But in this book about Hustad's childhood spent traveling with her parents, who worked as religious missionaries (and the book itself is filled with Bible quotes and religious references), the religion itself seems almost beside the point. I didn't expect that, and because of that I found my enjoyment of this title sort of snuck up on me.
As noted, Hustad went with her parents at a very young age to live on the Caribbean island of Bonaire, where her father worked for the Christian evangelical Trans World Radio organization. Later on, the family transferred to Amsterdam, where again, her father tried to find his place in the world as a religious missionary. Eventually her parents left missionary work and they returned to Minnesota, and when she left home, Hustad ended up in New York City, working in the publishing field. It's quite the journey(s), to say the least, and because the memoir is only about 225 pages long, it moves along pretty quickly.
I think I enjoyed this one because Hustad's descriptions of her parents make them sound almost entirely unlike Christian evangelical missionaries. On Bonaire, her parents threw "fellowship" parties, where the kids shared how they named the geckos that got into the house: "Not everyone felt that naming geckos after godly women and men was appropriate or a good example to set for your children. Ankles crossed. My father chuckled. Anyone who laughed sincerely was invited back once a week." (p. 47.) In Amsterdam their mother took them on a drive through the red-light district. Back in Minneapolis, her father "resolved not to put a Jesus fish on the back of the Subaru. If anyone asked why not, he said, he would simply say that sadly, our car had not accepted Jesus Christ as its savior." (p. 132.)
Come on. That last one's funny. In all, I wouldn't have minded learning even more about Hustad's family dynamics, and her parents' religious convictions (I might have found that more interesting than her continuing coming-of-age in New York City, but I get how that was important to her personal narrative). But in all? An unexpected read, with some good food for thought. Not something I often find in "religious" memoirs.