Buy my book, 'HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU'
The exvangelical novel is here, with 100% of pre-2/17/2024 proceeds to charity.
Sup, I’ve spent several years/decades writing something that is really good, according to the many lovely testimonials below. It’s live almost everywhere right now.
First, here’s the sales pitch:
“Rarely has an Evangelical upbringing been depicted with the relentless honesty, wide-ranging empathy, and Superbad-meets-Siddhartha playfulness of HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU.
“During the time of Pizza Hut buffets, 9/11, and all-night Mario Kart parties, a grieving teenager faces a mortal crossroads: fire-and-brimstone certainty vs. forbidden love. And whether or not you’ve ever begged God to delay the Rapture (so you could have time to lose your virginity), that kid’s story is about you.”
And here’s how to get it:
Shutdown Fullbooks (Pay what you want, meaning biggest potential charity boost)
Limited-edition signed hardcovers:
Shutdown Fullbooks (sold out of all 666 currently available)
We’re auctioning the very special 420/666 edition, along with some bonus stuff, on eBay
Which charity’s getting 100% of pre-2/17/2024 proceeds?
The Trevor Project, "the leading suicide prevention and crisis intervention nonprofit organization for LGBTQ young people" with a 4/4-star rating by Charity Navigator.
So far, we’ve already donated $39,000+, or about four times the average debut novel’s entire advance.
Wait, wait, who wrote it?
“Jason Kirk, a longtime sports journalist, co-hosts the Vacation Bible School Podcast and the Shutdown Fullcast. He’s contributed to The Athletic, This American Life, Slate, Penguin Random House’s Hazlitt Magazine, USA Today, Vox, and many others. An Atlanta native, he grew up as a maximum-effort Southern Baptist and is now a lazy Christian pantheist. His non-fiction literary agent is Erik Hane of Headwater Literary Management.”
And here’s the Hell Is a World Without You praise report:
“Divinely savage, emotionally pure, and devilishly funny, HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU insightfully captures the treacherous and often hilarious world of a questioning Evangelical high school student and his eclectic group of misfit friends. Kirk took me back to my days as a hopelessly confused church kid trying to save myself and my friends from eternal damnation while simultaneously using biblical loopholes and contradictions to justify, rationalize, and make sense of the world around me. HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU masterfully peels away the veneer of innocence and ultimately exposes the vulnerability that connects us as human beings. It’s a sweetly subversive romp through faith, doubt, and the search for identity and meaning that I won’t soon forget. I absolutely adored this book with every fiber of my being.”
— Brian Dannelly, co-writer/director, Saved!
"Although the author layers this story with humor, he meticulously examines Christianity as well. Blends sublimely. Hilariously blunt. Endearing. Get it."
— Kirkus Reviews, “GET IT” review
“Joyous and sobering, this coming-of-age story examines the realities of love, faith, and apostasy. Thematic depth and intensity are balanced by fluent, humorous language. Isaac’s genuine curiosity about everything makes him a brilliant, taboo-shirking narrator. Searing emotional honesty imbues the growth of Isaac and the characters around him with rare depth and verisimilitude. Dialogue has the fresh, organic ring of a conversation overheard. Among the novel’s greatest strengths is its ability to engage polarizing subjects. Readers will be swept away with its poignance and intellectual rigor. A wonderful novel.”
— Independent Book Review, STARRED review
“I grew up in one of the most Evangelical places on the planet. Jason Kirk’s hilarious, big-hearted, and deeply humane novel transported me right back into life as a teenager in that world, with its heady mix of wide-eyed absurdity, Machiavellian cunning, sincere kindness, and tragic yearning. This is a world in which transcendent spiritual crises can be faced down at Pizza Hut, and the miracle of HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU is that it sees both sides of that equation with equal clarity and tenderness. It’s funny, absolutely, but it’s the kind of funny that comes from recognizing that the search for meaning is no joke.”
— Brian Phillips, author, Impossible Owls
“Jason Kirk’s HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU is funny, but it’s also compassionate, romantic, and optimistic, all without making a big fuss about it. It exemplifies what should be the most Christian of all attributes: It’s open-hearted and curious about the world, giving space for everyone’s place in it. It rings with the specificity of the personal while evoking the universal. Whoever you are, you’ll find some of yourself in it.”
— Will Leitch, author, How Lucky and The Time Has Come
“No book I've read has better or more lovingly depicted the experiences of youth group, teen Evangelical terror, and growing up in the world of nondenominational Christianity in the early 2000s. I loved it, even when it made me remember times I wish I could forget.”
— Jane Coaston, Opinion writer, The New York Times
“Kirk’s story of the modern American Evangelical experience is unsparingly honest, at points almost astonishingly accurate, and at different points comical, endearing, and purely hideous. Most importantly, it stands firmly apart from both the dismissive condescension of outsiders and the understandably bitter attitudes of many who’ve left that life. Instead, it is unlike anything I’ve read about the Evangelical church: unshakably critical, yet just as unshakably empathetic, toward both those caught in the fundamentally bewildering crisis of false spirituality and those perpetuating it. After all, as narrator Isaac chronicles, they’re one and the same. HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU beautifully accounts for a wealth of structures and systems that have long needed that accounting, but above all, it offers the human beings in this story the unconditional love they aren’t quite able to afford themselves.”
— Jon Bois, creator, 17776
"Normally, 'funny' novels are either ones written for middle schoolers or for overly literate snobs who confuse their own smugness with having a sense of humor. But Jason Kirk has written a genuinely funny novel, with real laughs to be found in both its characters and in its painfully accurate depiction of growing up in a pious world that you're not entirely certain you believe in. It's a deeply funny book, which is the best kind of book."
— Drew Magary, author, The Night the Lights Went Out
“HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU is a magic trick: a portrait of a time and place that feels almost tactile in its specificity, yet also utterly universal in a way that will ring true to anyone who's had the exciting, terrifying experience of growing up. Jason Kirk brings it all to life with warmth and humor, giving Isaac Siena a chosen family you'll be thinking about for a long time.”
— Claire McNear, author, Answers in the Form of Questions
“With brutal honesty and extensive empathy, Kirk brings to frank and funny life the reality of an evangelical upbringing. Tear-inducing. Convincing, sometimes pointed, but also humane and never caricatured. The result is a resonant novel, briskly told, with laugh-out-loud comedy and poignant insight.”
— Publishers Weekly’s BookLife review
“HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU is an enthralling coming-of-age story, equally as engaging as it is hilarious. It is a sweet yet biting portrait of a journey of finding oneself and learning about intimacy through — and then against — the structure of extreme religiosity. A refreshing debut novel from a unique and imaginative writer.”
— Zito Madu, author, The Minotaur at Calle Lanza
“Former youth group kids may find themselves reading HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU with their fingers over their eyes, wincing in recognition of some of their most repressed cringe. But the deconstructed among us may also recognize some of the light bulbs flickering to life and the frightening, enticing possibilities they illuminate. It isn’t just welcome representation for ex-youth group kids. Almost anyone can find themselves here.”
— Tyler Huckabee’s Sojourners review
"Isaac Siena’s brain is full: normal teenage angst, memorized Bible verses, lustful thoughts, a thundering voice telling him to purge those lustful thoughts, a bottomless catalog of Christian rock, and a dead father who everyone believes is burning in Hell. As Jason Kirk juggles all those voices and dozens more, HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU is so quick and funny and smart, you almost forget he's trying to square the unsquarable contradictions of hardcore Christianity along the way."
— Tommy Tomlinson, author, The Elephant in the Room
“Jason Kirk's novel perfectly embodies what it was like to grow up in American Evangelical culture — from purity culture to Satanic panic to the Christian Nationalism sprinkled throughout. Relatable af. There were several moments throughout this book that I felt like I was reading my own teenage Evangelical diary. Kirk gives us a hilarious way to remember the cringe of our past while feeling grateful for the people who helped us leave the harmful parts of our faith behind.”
— April Ajoy, co-host, Evangelicalish
“I’d never before read a book so in tune with what it’s like to grow up in an Evangelical church. The details here? Kirk splits arrows — always on point, exact. He knows this world backward and forward: See You at the Pole, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, ZOEgirl, DC Talk, Underoath, Left Behind, self-hatred, doubt, fear of your body, fear for your soul, and trying to impress your date by recommending a Christian replacement for Sublime. HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU is deeply funny and deeply felt. A heater. The good, good shit.”
— Tyler Parker, author, A Little Blood and Dancing
"This book will remind you what it was like to be — or be classmates with — the religious kids at school. At turns cathartic and cringe, Kirks' book drops you into the mind of a hormonal and confused youth group kid — facing all the horror, humiliation, and humor of high school with the added burden of "saving souls."
— Blake Chastain, author, Exvangelical and Beyond and host, the Exvangelical podcast
"A gentle, sweet, and wry story about grappling with the unravelling of a kind of self and the finding of another that will be familiar to so many of us. A wonderful time capsule of a moment in culture and a crisis of faith that rings with uncommon truth and is shot through with surprising humor and kindness. I loved this book."
— Anthony Oliveira, author, Dayspring
“Devastatingly funny, heartbreaking, and incisive. Richly drawing a cast of characters who navigate a world of imposed shame they never asked to be a part of, HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU deftly brings us into Isaac's world, one that will resonate with readers regardless of background. I love every single one of these idiot church kids, and so will you.”
— Victoria Zeller, author, One of the Boys
“Leaving the faith in which you grew up can be lonely. So even though Jason Kirk tells the story in a novel, it seems at times as if he wrote the biography of many of us. Sometimes this book will leave you laughing, and other times it will leave you crying, but at all times it will leave you feeling a little less alone.”
— Mason Mennenga, host, A People’s Theology and co-host, The BlackSheep Podcast
“In a moment when streaming docuseries keep trying to render the full power, trauma, and emotion of turn-of-the-century American Evangelicalism, Jason Kirk’s HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU stands out for its humor, compassion, heart, and attention to the telling details. It is the rare book that engaged me as both a former pastor’s kid and a current scholar of religion. If religion is a way people sort out “us” and “them,” then Kirk draws a masterful portrait of young people figuring out who “we” really are. And they figure it out through an alchemy that turns shame into love. It’s a message vital to our current moment and one that readers will find immediately relatable through Kirk’s precisely and deeply rendered characters. Jesus & John Wayne meets The Goonies, this book will make you laugh, make you cry, make you think, and might even make you listen to MxPx, whether you’ve been to youth group or not.”
— Dr. Mike Altman, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Alabama, and author, Wrestling with Religion
“Absolutely slaps. If you were raised by Evangelicals, or if you were not, you should order this book.”
— Dr. Jonathan Beecher Field, Assistant Professor of English, University of Clemson
“If you were raised Evangelical (or are curious about what that world is like), this book from an honest, brilliant writer is the one. Jason puts thoughts and emotions I’d long buried into words with humor and bold, welcoming love.”
— Dr. Rev. Jonathan Redding, author, One Nation Under Graham
“I’ve never been so delighted to almost have a nervous breakdown while I read a book. I’m glad this was written as a novel instead of a memoir, because I was able to see parts of myself in so many of the characters. If you want to look back on your Evangelical youth group years with startling honesty and a big dose of empathy, or if you want to get a glimpse into that world as an outsider, or if you just want to read a great coming-of-age story, this is for you. I’m just really thankful this book exists!”
— Casey Haas, co-host, Fun Sexy Bible Time
“I have read Jason's book, and by ‘read’ I mean ‘had my team read it and explain it to me.’ Please let the record show that I was the first to say that the book either shifts the paradigm or is extremely problematic.”
— Matthew Pierce in Evangelical Thought Leader mode
“Kirk pulls off a miracle by making such an insular part of American culture so universal.”
— Book and Film Globe review
“So good that I had to get up and walk around a bunch of times while reading it. It is a truly excellent piece of writing, one that had me laughing riotously and feeling absolutely devastated at different points.”
— Tony Ginocchio, author, Grift of the Holy Spirit
“HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU by Jason Kirk ripped me apart and put me back together. I didn’t know I needed a book to tell me that other people went through what I went through. I don’t talk a lot about my religious background except to make fun of it, because even when I try to talk about it in all earnestness, it’s usually taken as a joke, or people try to one-up me in a way that shows they don’t get it at all. I was so deep in Evangelicalism — despite my ‘home’ church being not that way! — that I didn’t know it wasn’t normal or good for a really, really long time. While this is fiction, the emotional truth of it had me underlining passages, dog-earing pages, and sobbing through the whole last one hundred pages.”
— Literary Transgressions
“Deeply fascinating and informative. Witty, sad, and yet compassionate. A bitingly funny and insightful coming-of-age tale that I thoroughly enjoyed and can highly recommend.”
— Readers’ Favorite, five-star review
“HELL IS A WORLD WITHOUT YOU, as funny as it is unpredictable, isn’t just about the modern American Christian experience. It’s for anyone who’s ever felt disappointed by an institution they thought was supposed to love them, who’s struggled to reconcile inherited ethics with nuanced realities, and who remembers the noisy mix of joy, guilt, freedom, and anxiety that comes with being a teenager. (And anyone who experienced formative moments via AOL Instant Messenger.)”
— Ryan Nanni, journalist
“In between artfully woven portraits of turn-of-the-millennium adolescence — and they are numerous — Jason has constructed something extraordinary: a compelling case for the existence of a better world. This book is for anyone who hopes or even believes that world might someday be real, and that someday might already be here.”
— Holly Anderson, writer and editor, Channel Six
“As a non-Evangelical, I had no idea this world existed, much less what it’s like on the inside. It’s an entirely different and sometimes terrifying galaxy, and Jason writes his ass off about it: beautifully, angrily, and with deep empathy for people stranded on Planet Jesus.”
— Spencer Hall, writer, Channel Six, and analyst, ESPN
And here are the first few dozen five-star reviews on Goodreads.
Will you guest on my podcast or newsletter or whatever to promote?
If I can! Sports, non-sports, or other. jasonkirkbook at gmail.
Can I have an advance review copy?
If you have a platform (articles, podcasts, things of that nature) for letting people know about the project! jasonkirkbook at gmail.