YA Wednesday: "Rapture Practice"


What if you didn't see a movie until you were fifteen?  Or were forbidden to listen to popular music when you were a teenager?  Sounds a little like Footloose, but, in fact, that was Aaron Hartzler's life.  And we get to read about it in his fantastic book, Rapture Practice.  

Hartlzer grew up truly excited for the Rapture, playing the piano in church, and following the plan his parents, particularly his father, laid out for his life. The snake in Aaron's Garden of Eden came in the form of bible camp--as unlikely as that seems--and the apple was The Hunt for Red October. 

Hartzler's coming-of-age memoir is funny, laugh-out-loud funny at times, and his slide into "sin" is fraught with a combination of thrill and guilt because his love for his parents and desire to please them is 100% genuine.  We picked Rapture Practice as our YA Best Books of the Month spotlight for April and after reading it I wanted to hear more about that first movie experience, so we asked Aaron Hartzler to write a little something for us.  The picture of the ticket stub you see below?  That is THE ticket.  Read on...

Unless Jesus comes back in the next two minutes, I am going to break one of Mom and Dad’s biggest rules. My cheeks are hot. I feel out of breath. A drop of sweat trickles down my back, but the girl behind the glass doesn’t even look up at me. She has no idea what is happening in my head, what a big deal this is for me. She couldn’t be less interested. Hartzler_original_ticket

I slide a five‑dollar bill under the window. She hands back a small yellow ticket between neon nails so long they curve.

“Enjoy the show.”

I take a deep breath.

I take a look over my shoulder.

I take the ticket.

[From Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler]

I didn’t see a movie in a movie theater until I was 15 years old. My mom and dad felt that most movies were not pleasing to God, so I wasn’t allowed to go. And yet, when I stood on that curb at the theater with all of my friends from camp that summer, all of those warnings were no match for the thrill of taking my seat in a darkened room, and watching the opening credits. My heart was racing, and my hand was sweaty as I clung to that little yellow ticket stub.

I saved the tickets for every movie I saw that summer. They looked like little carnival ride tickets back then—the kind you win playing ski ball and trade for prizes. This was before they printed the name and date of the film on the ticket, so I wrote it on each one. Eventually, I lost the rest, but I still carry that first little yellow ticket around in my wallet. It’s a symbol of the day I started to make my own decisions—for better or for worse; the day I knew my life was going to be different than the one that had been imagined for me by others. That little yellow scrap felt like more than just a ticket to a movie; it felt like a ticket to freedom.

Looking back, I’m certain that it was.

--Aaron Hartzler

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