The young adult memoir, historical ghost story, and a contemporary satire covered here could not be more different in content, and yet they all center on teens struggling with the same thing: belief — whether it’s belief in religion, belief in the supernatural, or belief (as cheesy as it sounds) in yourself.
Aaron Hartzler’s “Rapture Practice” is about a teen’s effort to figure out his faith. In this earnest but incomplete memoir, he describes growing up in an uber-conservative, Christian family in Kansas City where life was lived on tenterhooks: The Rapture, the assumption of true believers into Heaven, could happen any day, so you better have your soul in order. Particularly during his teenage years, Hartzler battles to balance his parents’ absolute convictions with his growing uncertainty. His rebellious path to self-acceptance is riddled with clandestine movie trips, school plays and performances, hidden tapes of forbidden music, booze, and make-out sessions. His experience is both universal and unique. Part of growing up is questioning parents’ values, religious or otherwise, but Hartzler had the additional burden of also wondering, “Who would I be if I wasn’t hiding from them?”