“All That Fills Us” by Autumn Lytle ~ a Revell Reads Review

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I just finished one of the most interesting books I’ve read this year. It’s Autumn Lytle’s All That Fills Us, and it is truly remarkable and unusual. Revell Reads sent me a copy to read; and it is a pleasure to share my thoughts about it, and its author, with you.

About All That Fills Us

Mel Ellis felt as though she had it all in college. The perfect major, the perfect boyfriend, a gorgeous town to live in. But when she graduated, things didn’t seem to come together–for her, anyway. As all those around her kept attaining their dreams, jobs, and goals, hers continued to seem out of reach. And then, she lost what she did have. An illness, anorexia (including an addiction to exercise), grew in her and took over her life (even though many of the behavioral roots connected with it probably started much earlier).

As Mel’s illness puts her in the hospital–again–she promises her grandmother and her doctor that she will enter treatment. But while she’s at her apartment “taking care of some last-minute things,” as she tells the doc, she comes up with what seems to her to be an even better plan: walking from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Mount Rainier. Over two thousand miles. Then, she can create a story of her life that will, in her opinion, MEAN something.

Her disordered thinking is telling her that this will make her life worthwhile. What it isn’t telling her is that in her current state, she should be in the hospital, and that attempting this trek might just take her life. Instead of saving it.

My thoughts about this book

WHAT a book. And what a voice. It was very hard to believe that this was Autumn’s first book. She unfolds protagonist Mel’s story perfectly, and also heartrendingly. We get to look on as Mel interacts with others, but we also get an abundant look into her mind and the thoughts that overflow into her thinking, courtesy of her illness. Thoughts about her size. About others’ sizes. And calorie-counting to the extreme. Honestly, I wasn’t sure that Mel wasn’t going to end back up in the hospital before she made it a dozen steps; much less miles.

Although Mel isn’t quite sure that God would love someone who has failed so abysmally, again and again, it seems that He might just have a plan that is bigger than her harsh thoughts and ideas about herself, her life, and her value. And He might just be about to bring extreme evidence of that plan, and His enormous love, to Mel’s understanding as she takes her own extreme adventure.

All That Fills Us was a difficult book for me to start. Poor Mel! It was hard to read, at times, how harsh and unforgiving she was in her own thoughts and treatment of herself and her body. And I don’t want to give you any spoilers; but I will tell you that her journey is a fascinating one, and the rewards for taking it, immense. I recommend this book highly.

Just a quick content warning for those who might be struggling with anorexia: Autumn does describe some extremely restricted food intake and planning, as well as some exercise-addicted behavior. At no time, however, is either of these glorified. Just part of Mel’s journey.

About the author, Autumn Lytle

Autumn shares on the back of her novel a bit about herself; that she loves running, lives in Seattle, loves being her son’s mom, and is, as she puts it, “a forever-recovering anorexic.” She is also an amazing human being. (I don’t know her personally, by the way!) I’ve enjoyed her book so much that I had to check out her website. Here are some links that you can visit to get to know this author a bit better.

You can find Autumn on her website, Autumn Lytle. The subheading on her site reads, “Author. Runner. Eater. Explorer.” That tells us a lot, doesn’t it? But as you read her posts, you get so much more, even if you are NOT a runner (as I am not!). You are totally going to want this woman as your friend!

When I read some of Autumn’s blog posts, I had the same experience I did as I read her book. Tears. But also laughter. See if you don’t experience the same thing when you read these words, from Autumn’s website post “On becoming small:”

While the world measures small by the size of your waist or the number on your jeans, Jesus calls us to a smallness that allows us to bear witness to the glory of his creation, putting our worries and fears into perspective. It’s a revelation that draws me out of my own isolated world where I am the center of my own universe into a world full of beauty and hungry for love.

Autumn Lytle

If you’d like to experience a little more of this author’s story and get to “meet” her as well, you can watch her talk by clicking on the link below.

Author Night with Autumn Lytle from Baker Book House

And definitely, don’t miss this, her first book, All That Fills Us.

Enjoy! –Wren

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Revell Reads. All opinions are my very own.

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