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Angela Himsel was raised in a German American family, one of eleven children who shared a single bathroom in their rented ramshackle farmhouse in Indiana. The Himsels followed an evangelical branch of Christianity--the Worldwide Church of God--which espoused a doomsday philosophy. Only faith in Jesus, the Bible, significant tithing, and the church's leader could save them from the evils of American culture--divorce, television, makeup, and even medicine. Himsel believed that the Bible was the guidebook to being saved, and only strict adherence to the church's tenets could allow her to escape a certain, gruesome death, receive the Holy Spirit, and live forever in the Kingdom of God. With self-preservation in mind, she decided, at nineteen, to study at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. But instead of strengthening her faith, Himsel was introduced to a whole new world--one with different people and perspectives. Her eyes were slowly opened to the church's shortcomings, even dangers, and fueled her natural tendency to question everything she had been taught, including the guiding principles of the church and the words of the Bible itself. Ultimately, the connection to God she so relentlessly pursued was found in the most unexpected place: a mikvah on Manhattan's Upper West Side. This devout Christian Midwesterner found her own form of salvation--as a practicing Jewish woman.

A River Could Be a Tree

SKU: 9781941493243
  • Angela Himsel’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Jewish Week, Forward, Lilith and elsewhere. She received am American Jewish Press Association Award for her column “Angetevka” on

  • “An intriguing tale of one woman’s search for identity and community.” - Kirkus Reviews. “Inspiring and brave, A River Could Be a Tree defines…the freedom to discover our own unique path in life and the courage to choose it…. Her story serves as a powerful reminder that we don’t have to settle for what is expected of us. We can all find pieces of ourselves reflected in this delightful memoir.” - Ruth Wariner, author of New York Times bestseller, The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir “This coming-of-age memoir takes the reader from the faith of a childhood immersed in the Worldwide Church of God, to Orthodox Jewish New York, by way of Israel and Germany..”- Lucia Greenhouse, author of fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science “An odyssey of love and faith, told in a voice mixed with pathos and humor. Angela Himsel shows us how intricate, layered, and painful are the bounds of family, and finally how it is possible to honor both the ties we are born with and the ones we choose to create on our own.”- Gabrielle Selz, author of Unstill Life: A Daughter's Memoir of Art and Love in the Age of Abstraction “Honest, yet humane, Himsel masterfully describes her spiritual walk along life’s long-narrow bridge from an impoverished childhood in rural Indiana with parents fiercely devoted to an apocalyptic cult and ending in the embracing warmth of the Jewish community of the Upper West Side. Her journey is a testament to the importance of having no fear. In this regard, Himsel is not just a force of nature; she’s the Mary Karr (author of The Liar’s Club and Lit) of Indiana.” - Mort Zachter, author of Dough: A Memoir, AWP Award Winner “A River Could Be a Tree is a riveting, intimate memoir of growing up in rural America in a family of eleven children with a father who is an avid follower of an Evangelical Christian sect. With boundless curiosity and rigorous erudition, Angela Himsel navigates a spiritual life while deftly melding the personal with the compelling realities of life in a cult and cultural norms in other religions. Sprawling several religious worlds, this tragicomic memoir is spellbinding.”  - Eva Fogelman, author of Conscience and Courage: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust

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