Book Review: Night Driving by Addie Zierman
by Bethany Blue
Addie Zierman. Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark. Convergent, 2016. 240 pp. $14.99.
How do you know that God is real? “I have felt him,” Addie Zierman says. How do you find him when you can’t feel him anymore? You head south. And Ziermen did.
In her latest book, Night Driving, Addie Zierman chronicles a winter road trip with her two young kids from the bitter winds of Minnesota to the beaches of Florida. This is literally a journey toward the light. It is not only a story of the physical miles, though, but of the soul also. Zierman is a woman who once burned with a “fire” and passion for God but now, at thirty years old and a mother and a wife, she seems to be enveloped in a cold darkness and estrangement from God. For years the harsh Minnesota winters, and just the slow gnawing away of life, have somehow smothered the heat and familiarity with God that she once reveled in.
Despite her evangelical girlhood, years of youth trips and retreats, proudly proclaiming the tag “Jesus Freak,” and once being full of teenage plans to ignite the world in God’s love, Zierman now wonders where this passion has gone. “I can’t seem to shoot the gap between what I thought faith was supposed to be like—look like, feel like—and what it actually is,” Zierman says.
Left with such a longing and an emptiness, Zierman sets out to experience a road trip of exploring, bonding, and reconnecting. If she can’t feel God, she will go find out where he has gone. Maybe she can find him in the glorious rays of a Florida sunrise. Zierman just knows that she must try. But the adventure is plagued with the inevitable road dramas, cramped and messy quarters, and every possible mishap that can be expected when you travel with small kids. She endures two weeks of being on “Kid Time.” But the driving—that may have been just what she needed, time to search for God from within.
The book is structured in a diary style measuring the trip as small journeys from stop to stop, each feeling like a story itself. Zierman reveals a great deal of herself through her interactions with the people that we meet with her along the way. These friends all have grown into their faith and created their own spiritual paths. In comparison, Zierman is even more clearly faced with doubting that she is even on any spiritual path at all.
“Did I allow this to happen? Did I miss some important turn on my faith journey?” Zierman asks herself, and asks God.
But as her pilgrimage progresses, she begins to embrace her waning faith as being as natural as the phases of the moon. Maybe faith was not always supposed to feel like you were on fire for God. Maybe faith was just always knowing that he was still there when the flames die down.
Full of entertaining events and contemporary references to McDonald’s and iPhones, Night Driving is a chronicle of a modern mother’s reach to feel the light of God when she has slipped, over the years, into darkness. It is a universal story of discovering how to feel God, whether in the warmth of the Florida sunrise in the midst of your most passionate times, or to still feel him in the chilly winds of a mundane Minnesota winter.