Writer. Truth-teller. Feminist.
The Uncomfortable Confessions
of a Preacher’s Kid
Born into an evangelical church family, Ronna grows up feeling lonely and unloved. She perceives herself as different-and thereby, unwanted-alienated by a faith hostile to outsiders. Unbeknownst to Ronna, her preacher-father is a closeted homosexual, inwardly raging at his suppressed sexuality. He raises his daughters with an iron hand, ensuring they conform to the church’s traditional values. Ronna rebels, believing she can leave her upbringing behind and walk away, unscathed.
Ronna unwittingly marries a man in denial about his own sexual preferences, caring for him and their four children almost singlehandedly. As their sex life and bank account dwindle to nothing, fear keeps her silent. When her father-previously spurned by his beloved church-dies of AIDS, Ronna is forced to reexamine her joyless existence. She finds the courage to stand on her own: pursuing her gifts and awakening to herself. In the process, she falls in love with her own life.
Caught between the archaic religious dictates of her Pentecostal family and the complexities of the world outside, Ronna Russell fights for survival and more in The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid. Loneliness, raw sexuality, unexpected kindness and cruelty, and through it all an understated endurance with solid granite at the core, Russell’s memoir is alternately hard, hungry, raw, and tender–like sex and love and parenthood and simply being. I sat down to read the first chapter on a busy day and instead read straight through.
~Dr. Valerie Tarico, author of Trusting Doubt
For those who fear sex. For those who feel shame around it. For those who feel guilt around their own desire. The chapters in The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid are puzzle pieces that, when put together, reveal a picture of how the way we are brought up and the life we live can leave an indelible mark on the way we see ourselves, and the way we end up moving through the world. If you’re looking for insight into your own grappling around sex — and a sort of absolution — Ronna’s story is for you.
~Steph Auteri, author of A Dirty Word: How a Sex Writer Reclaimed Her Sexuality
A frank, intimate account of one woman’s search for herself as a woman, mother and sexual being. Ronna Russell’s narrative weaves together memories from childhood, young adulthood, and the more recent past as she recounts her upbringing as a preacher’s kid in the United Pentecostal Church—where she wasn’t allowed to cut her hair, wear slacks, or fraternize with non-church members—and details her journey to find authenticity. Written with the level of confession normally reserved for close friends whispering secrets over a glass of wine, Russell’s memoir is a no holds barred revelation of self-discovery and acceptance.
~Lara Lillibridge, author of Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home
Ronna Russell takes us on a no-holds-barred ride through her unconventional childhood and how she emerged as her own person on every level. She is fighter, a survivor, and shines a light on the things we often choose to keep in the dark. And she does it with remarkable, unapologetic honesty.
~Lisa F. Smith author of Girl Walks Out Of a Bar
The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid is one of those stories that you couldn’t make up as they say – a cascading series of dramas that take the reader through Ronna Russell’s rigid fundamentalist childhood, the disgrace of her preacher father, her sexual explorations, and the slow decline and dissolution of her marriage. Russell’s sparing, matter-of-fact prose is the perfect vehicle for this autobiography, offering a counterpoint to the often painful and shocking events described. Her seamless chronological shifts from childhood to adulthood and back remind the reader of the ways in which the past informs the present and abuse of any kind is sticky and enduring. Though Russell’s confessions ultimately celebrate the capacity of women to survive and thrive, they are never preachy, or self-indulgent. Indeed, the book opens with the most sizzling sex scenes I’ve ever read. This is a book to devour at one or two sittings, then pass on to your bestie!
The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid is a brave, unflinching look at what happens when secrets go untold and questions go unasked. Ms. Russell’s no-nonsense voice carries the reader into the dark crevices of TWO nuclear families living in hypocrisy and shame. And when she finally finds her own way into the light, she gets there in the most unconventional way. Uncomfortable Confessions is a must-read for all of us who have ignored what was right under our noses.
~Cami Ostman, Editor of Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religion and author of Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continent
Ronna writes with an honesty that is refreshing and authentic. Her conversational writing style draws you in and keeps you reading. Her story is at times painful, but her wittiness and raw humor shine through.
~Amber Garza author of For the Win
Something magical happened in your book. Did you do this intentionally?? After the chapter ending where the Narrator says to herself, “I want a divorce from both of you,” the VOICE of the writing catches up with the Narrator’s voice of wisdom. I’ve been admiring how seamlessly the Narrator’s voice grows through this story. I was just reading a couple chapters further and thought, “Oh hold on, wait, when did she grow up all of a sudden?”
Whether you intentionally crafted this way or not, well done, Ronna. Gorgeous lesson in showing how creating wise boundaries propel growth and maturity in a super subtle way. I’ve been so engrossed in reading your book that I’ve been playing hooky from my editing, staying up until midnight, and carrying it with me in my purse. So good. I’ve already told several people that they have to read it. That last chapter-where did it come from? I’m fucking sobbing.
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I was raised the daughter of a preacher in the cult of the United Pentecostal Church. It was an oppressed and repressed environment that never felt right. The experience shaped my formative years leaving me ill-equipped for life in the real world, but life in the real world happened anyway. Like everyone, I have had some successes and some failures. The stories I share here are my own, for no purpose other than to make sense of it all in the end.