Life, In Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice

Life, In Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice

4.4 72
by Kristen Jane Anderson

View All Available Formats & Editions

She wanted to die. God had other plans.

Overwhelmed by wave after wave of emotional trauma, Kristen Anderson no longer wanted to live. One January night, determined to end her pain once and for all, the seventeen-year-old lay across train tracks not far from her home and waited to die.
Instead of peace, she found herself immersed in a

…  See more details below


She wanted to die. God had other plans.

Overwhelmed by wave after wave of emotional trauma, Kristen Anderson no longer wanted to live. One January night, determined to end her pain once and for all, the seventeen-year-old lay across train tracks not far from her home and waited to die.
Instead of peace, she found herself immersed in a whole new nightmare.
Before the engineer could bring the train to a stop, thirty-three freight cars passed over her at fifty-five miles per hour. After the train stopped and Kristen realized she was still alive, she looked around—and saw her legs ten feet away.
Surviving her suicide attempt but losing her legs launched Kristen into an even deeper battle with depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as unrelenting physical pain—all from the seat of a wheelchair. But in the midst of her darkest days, Kristen discovered the way to real life and a purpose for living.
For anyone struggling to find the strength to go on, the message of this heart-wrenching yet hope-building book is a clear and extraordinary reminder that even when we give up on life, God doesn’t give up on us. 
Includes notes of encouragement from Kristen and resources for suicide prevention.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Life, In Spite of Me is a remarkable story of life beyond despair and hope that triumphs over tragedy.” 
   —Louie Giglio, pastor, Passion City Church/The Passion Movement

“Suicide is a liar and a thief. It promises peace to those who are escaping but delivers unimaginable pain and rejection to those left behind. Kristen Jane Anderson’s riveting story unmasks the thief and gives hope a face.”
   —Dr. Dennis Rainey, president, FamilyLife Ministries

“When I first met Kristen, I was overwhelmed with her smile, and then I saw her wheelchair. It was a defining moment for me. I had not heard her story or why she’d ended up at Moody. But it was her smile—and it is still her smile—that dismantles me. Kristen has something. It is something otherworldly. She had every reason to die, but now she has every reason to live. I hope you’ll read her story, see her smile, and know why she lives.”
   —Michael Easley, former president, Moody Bible Institute

Product Details

The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 7.97(h) x 0.44(d)

Read an Excerpt

Dear reader,
This is my story. Sometimes it gets a little crazy…you’ll see, but my guess is that in many ways my story and yours are not that different. Between some of the chapters you will find personal notes from me to you. These include things I wish I had known, things I wish someone had told me back then. I hope you will find what I’ve shared encouraging.

I am praying for you.

Numb. The cold Illinois wind chilled my body.

Numb. My mind, my heart.

   At just past 6:00 p.m., the sky was black, and the icy January air hovered over the ground as a thick, misty fog. Snow clung to the dirt in patches, and my heart felt as dead as the wintry world around me. Silently, I trudged through the park and tugged my knit gloves tighter. I wanted only to be happy and for life to be a little easier, but everything seemed to be getting worse.
   On one side of me, the park was dark and silent. Once full of life and laughter, my soul was the same. Play equipment, empty and laced with frost, sat motionless. In the other direction, lights from the town attempted to penetrate the fog. The idea of going home caused a heavy weight to sink in my stomach. I didn’t want to face my parents.
   Or my life.
   Cold seeped through my jeans and coat as I sat down on the hard wooden seat of a nearby swing. Frozen chains creaked softly, and my thoughts took me back to all the times I’d played at this park during happy childhood days—too many to count. Now I was seventeen; those days were long past.
   Why does life have to be so painful?
   I turned in the swing, twisting the chains above my head tighter and tighter. Then I released. My body unwound in a slow turn. If only the invisible chains wrapped around my heart would free as easily.
   A car drove by, and my body tensed. The park closed at dusk. Policemen patrolled the area, and I knew if they found me they’d send me home. 
   I don’t want to go back… I just can’t do it.
   I’d never hung out in this park at night before. I didn’t like being there, but I had no idea where else to go. I just needed time—time to figure out what to do next.
   My gaze turned to the two sets of railroad tracks at the edge of the park. The first set of tracks was empty. A cluster of six cars sat on the second set. I knew the cops wouldn’t be able to see me there.
   Sluggishly, I made my way over to the line of railroad cars. My eyes zeroed in on the last car. I climbed up the side of it and sat, dangling my legs. I’m not sure how much time passed. Maybe an hour, maybe two. The danger of sitting on the train car put me on edge. After all the years living so near the railroad tracks, I’d never ventured this close.
   I blew warm air into my hands, trying to thaw them, but it did little good.
   What’s wrong with me?
   Everyone else seemed to be able to handle the burdens, the struggles of life, better than I could. All I wanted was to be happy. To have the perfect life I always thought I had when I was a kid. But my arms had grown tired from trying to hold my fantasy world together.
   Lately, it seemed I couldn’t do anything right. I wasn’t there for my friends and family when they needed me. I was doing horribly in school, and I’d become a worry to my family. Now I was “grounded until further notice.” I pushed the most recent argument with my parents out of my mind. And then there was the pain that ran even deeper than that. Memories too painful to think about. I pushed them back below the surface, as I had for months. In the past year I’d started smoking, drinking, and partying with my friends on the weekends, futilely trying to escape the pain.
   I looked down at the railroad tracks and remembered a time I’d realized the power of a train. A train would kill anyone in an instant. No one could survive that. If I ever wanted to take my life, if ever…that’s the way I’d do it.
   The cold air around me brought me back to the moment. A deeper chill settled into my bones—and my thoughts grew darker; I knew I didn’t want anyone to worry about me anymore. More than that, I wanted the pain to stop.
   If I ever want my life to end…this would be my chance.
   It’s not going to get better. There’s no reason I need to be here. There’s nothing I’m supposed to do here. They’d be better off without me.

   I tried to think of a reason to stay around, to live, but I could think of only one, my two nephews.
   I’m not a very good example anymore. They’re probably better off without me anyway, and I don’t have any kids of my own. No younger brothers and sisters either. There’s nothing important I’m supposed to do. My family, my friends…They’ll get over me, right? I’m just causing pain and problems.
   I looked around again at the cold, dark night.
   This night is icky.
   The world is disgusting.
   My life sucks.

   It could all be over soon, and then I won’t hurt anymore.
   I thought about school the next day. The homework I hadn’t done.
   I’m such a failure.
   Do I want my life to end? If the train comes, should I end it?
   Conflicting thoughts ping-ponged, faster, faster.
   It’s going to get better.
   It isn’t going to get better.
   There’s a reason I’m here.
   There’s no reason I’m here.
   There’s something I’m supposed to do here.
   There’s nothing I’m supposed to do here.
   I was cold, and it was late. I wanted to leave, but I didn’t know where to go.
   Suddenly, a train whistle split the air. My heart pounded. I hadn’t expected the train. Not yet. I still hadn’t decided what to do.
   I knew it would be a long time before the next train. This is my chance.
   The thoughts came as fast as the train speeding toward me.
   I’m so cold. This might be the only train for a while.
   If I did it, the pain, the heartache, the numbness would be over.
   I’m gonna do it. Soon it will all be over.
   I stood between the parked train cars. I glanced across the dip between the tracks I was on and the ones the approaching train was speeding down. 
   I waited until the train got closer. I didn’t want the engineer to see me. I didn’t want him to stop the train. The large outline of the train’s engine was barely visible beyond the bright headlight. It was almost here.
   Heaven waited for me. I was sure of it. I was a good person.
   Heaven has to be better than this life.
   My heart pounded as I ran up the small bank. The train’s headlight illuminated me. Its horn blared. I tried to push down the fear and shame, turned my face away from the train, and lay facedown.
   I clenched my fists, crossed my arms under my head, and braced myself, closing my eyes tight. My head and body lay between the tracks, my legs hung over the rail. I could feel the cold metal against my thighs and the wood and rocks under my stomach. As the train closed in, the ground shook so much that my whole body vibrated. Then the train was upon me, over me.
   Pain overwhelmed me. The train roared.
   The momentum of the cars pulled at me, as if the train were trying to suck me into itself. The wind tugged harder, wrenching at my jacket and yanking my hair upward. My body rose, lifting slightly.
   Then, even more powerful than the wind and the momentum of the train, another force pushed me to the ground. My head and chest hit first, then my hips and legs. Again I felt the power of the train, the shaking of the ground, the roar of it moving over me. The force of the weight pushing me down hurt more than anything else.
   Fear coursed through me. I squeezed my eyes tighter.
   It’s going to be over now. The pain is going to end. I’ll be in heaven soon.
   As the whistle blew again, the vibration of my body stilled.
   The sound stopped. The wind stopped. The train stopped.
   Am I dead yet?

If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts…
   I know how you feel. Life is harder and more painful than you ever thought it could be. You’re not sure if it’s worth it, but I’m telling you there is so much to live for—more than you have ever experienced or imagined. Somehow, I hope my story will show that to you. 
   Please don’t give up. You are not alone. There is a God who made you, and he’s not as far away as you may think. He is always near. Wherever you go, whatever you do, he will be with you. He loves you, and he wants to comfort you, heal the hurt in your heart, and carry you through this life. Let him in. 
   God has an amazing plan for your life, even if you don’t have a plan for yourself. He has hope for you, even if you don’t have hope for yourself. He loves you immensely, even when you don’t love yourself. And he sees beauty in you, even when all you see is a mess. 
   Suicide is never the answer. There is too much to live for. Keep fighting. Please don’t give up. Reach out for help. You won’t regret it. Your heart can be filled with hope, just like mine and so many others have been.
Love, Kristen

Read More


Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Life, in Spite of Me 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 72 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amasing i got to meet kristen anderson and she sighned my book at a young womans breaking through conferance she has so much joy and happyness in her personality now if you ever get to meet her like i did you will love her i am twelve and this book is amazing you have to read it i recamend it to every one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Kristen was seventeen years old when she decided she had had enough of this world. She had had enough pain, disappointment and sadness in her life and decided she was done. She laid down in front of a train coming, trying to end her life. On that horrible night, she thought she was done with this life and knew what was best for her, but God had bigger plans. She was held down by God and only lost her legs and a lot of blood that night. She had a long, painful journey ahead of her, but God was with her every step of the way. The story is told very straightforward with a lot of encouragement for anyone that has battled depression and discouragement. I read this book cover to cover in 5 hours. I had no desire to put it down until I read the last word. It was a beautiful story. I give it 5 stars and would definitely recommend this book to anyone that has felt discouraged and/or hopeless. I was given this book for free by Waterbrook Multnomah to read and give an honest review.
JodyJ More than 1 year ago
I got the chance to read and review the book called 'Life, In Spite of Me' and it was an awesome book. She was only 17 years old and still in school, and she is a good kid for the most part. Then of course along comes this girl she meets who is in with the bad crowd, and she starts drinking, smoking pot, and cigarettes, missing class, not doing homework. Well it all comes to a head one night when her mom started to holler at her about her doing her homework, and her friends, she said "I don't like your friends, I think they are a bad influence on you" that just made Kristen madder and she started to scream back which she had never done before. She told her mom "her friends are not a bad influence on me, I am doing these things because I want to...." "It was cold out that night, but I didn't care I took off towards the park, I didn't know where else to go. I sat there in the swings thinking, twisting around in the swings. I kept thinking' lately it seemed like I could not do anything right, I wasn't there for my family or my friends anymore', and a deep chill set in on my bones and my thoughts grew darker. I tried to think of a reason to stick around and live, I mean all I was doing was smoking, drinking, and partying on the weekends trying to escape the pain. The only reason I could think of was my nephews, but I'm not a good example for them anymore. Man I was cold and it was getting late, suddenly a train whistle blew, and I looked over at the train tracks... This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. Get your copy today at Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Company:
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't relate to Kristen... at all, but it was an amazing story! Totally worth reading!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mTereck More than 1 year ago
I loved it! Such a beautiful testimony! I really enjoyed reading this book, I put myself in her shoes and imagined the pain she felt as she sat by the cold rail road tracks. Kristen shares in detail the events that led her to want to commit suicide and after a failed attempt she goes on to explain the depression she went through when she realised that her life would never be the same but how she found the strength to rise up from the pit which she had fallen to new hope, life and faith in God. I would highly recommend this book to anybody who feels there are at the end of their rope and cannot hold on any longer. There is no returning after suicide but Thank God there is Hope in Jesus Christ.I rate this book with 5 stars because of its honesty and openness. There is indeed life after a tragedy, God can turn your mess into a beautiful testimony and message.This book is well-written, captures the reader’s attention and allows the reader to travel with Kristen through her journey.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i started reading this i just started to cry. She left a huge impact on me and has showed me that God is always there whenever you need him. There is no need to hesitate because he is always listening. God is also our creator and Jesus has been through alot and we have to put our trust in him and not on anybody else.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
freesamplequeen More than 1 year ago
Reaching out to others who may be hurting or looking for answers, Kristen Anderson shares her story in a refreshing, easy to read and free flowing way that hooks readers immediately. Through the journey of her hurts, suicide attempt, recovery and disappointments along the way, Anderson sheds light on a dark story, finding hope in Christ and a new life. Among chapters are intermittently spaced notes from Kristen to the reader in regards to specific topics such as sucide and what to do to get help if one is in that situation. I initially chose to read this book because I was curious. Having never heard Kristen's story, I was unaware of the book's true message. Once I got started reading, I had a difficult time putting the book down, finishing it in a matter of two days. This story is a quick read, with short chapters that flow smoothly, walking the reader through Anderson's life from the point right before her suicide attempt to the present, sharing insight and encouragement through her hurts, pain, depression and strggles. A highly recommended read. Readers from all walks of life and histories will find some nugget of truth and help within this book. Especially recommended for teens or other individuals facing severe depression and thoughts of suicide. I received this ebook for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated for writing this review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Julie12 More than 1 year ago
Oh, my goodness. I could NOT put this book down. I read it in one setting. Kristen is a total inspiration and she will make you see your life differently. The first two chapters were very difficult to read and I found myself with tears streaming down my face more than once. Kristen tried to commit suicide when she was 17 years old. Her method was horrific, to say the least, but God had other plans for this wonderful, young woman, and the really great thing? She listened to God and inspires us today. Kristen lives in pain from losing her legs and since I live in pain, it made me take a good look at the fact that God uses our pain to help others. Kristen touches so many lives with her testimony, her ministry, and her love of Jesus! Even though no one would fault her if she felt sorry for herself, she doesn't. She looks outside herself to see other hurting people that she can help by sharing the Gospel with them. She shows them that God has a plan for all of us and He can use us if we will only just submit to Him and allow Him to do his wonderful work in us. Trust me, you're going to want to read this book. It will make you long to grow closer to God and, if you don't know God, you're going to want to know Him. I give this book a definite 5 stars and it will be a book I go to time and again - especially if I'm having a day I'm needing some encouragement or I'm feeling sorry for myself. ************************ This ebook was provided to me by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for my honest review
ThomasRFellerJr More than 1 year ago
So here's the story - and, unfortunately, it's one I experienced all too often when I served as a school administrator. Teenage girl suffers with depression; teenage girl decides she wants to kill herself; teenage girl lies down on the railroad tracks to end her life; 33 train cars run over teenage girl; teenage girl miraculously survives. While I had plenty of students who have threatened to try or have actually tried suicide, none of them succeeded and, thankfully, none of them tried it this way. But that's Kristen Jane Anderson's story. Life in Spite of Me begins by holding no punches - you enter directly into her decision to take her life and what she experienced underneath that train. My wife asks why I read books like this - actually, I wanted to read it hoping it would give me a better understanding of what some of my students struggle with (it did), what I didn't expect was the depth of insight this young lady has. The book is an amazing story - one I found hard to put down - of God's grace and goodness. Kristen uses her experience to now reach out to others all over the country to help combat this growing issue of teens - particularly girls - engaging in destructive behavior. The book chronicles her recovery, both physical, emotional, and spiritual. But it doesn't stop with her recovery - it continues on to what she does now and the ministry she leads reaching out to these young people - if you'd like to visit her ministry's (Reaching You Ministries) website click here. I'll just say that this is a "must read" book for anyone who works with youth. I'm going to give it 4.5/5 stars. And, yes, I did receive a complimentary copy of the book in return for an honest (though not necessarily favorable) review.
BlogfulofBooks More than 1 year ago
Life, In Spite of Me is the true story of Kristen Jane Anderson (it's written by her and Tricia Goyer). Filled with all sorts of emotions from pain to anger to peace, this book is about real life. The story is intriguing, Kristen's honesty is encouraging, and the conclusion-that God doesn't fail us when we trust in Him-is appropriate. Starting this review, I wasn't sure how much I should say about some aspects of the book, considering this is one girl's very true life story. So, in order to remain courteous, I'm only pointing out one thing that I noticed. In a book about suicide, the big question arises: Theoretically, would a professing Christian who committed suicide go to heaven? Kristen doesn't seek to answer this question in depth, and that's what bothers me. I can understand why: it would definitely draw a dividing line and, of course, some people might be offended. The only passing thing Kristen says is that she knows she would've gone to hell because she wasn't a Christian, not because she committed suicide. It's disappointing to me that in a book about a girl who has realized all that God is, she can't delve into the Bible to search for an answer to this. Who knows, maybe she has. Maybe she just didn't want to offend. It's a topic that's left unfinished, and I felt that gap in the rest of the book. Life, in Spite of Me shows life at its worst; it also shows how trusting in God can change everything for the better. While I was reading it, I thought of Psalm 139:13-16: For you [God] created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AReadersRefuge More than 1 year ago
Life changing. Simply astounding. Compelling. This novel is a must read for teens and adults alike. Not only does this book assist one in seeing the beauty of life, but it shows the amazing hope that God provides each of us, even when we feel that life is too much to handle. --- Within her novel, Life, In Spite of Me, Kristen shares the journey of her life, both before and after her accident. Kristen was a fun, loving, and outgoing young woman. Her life quickly began to fall apart when she faced the death of her grandmother and 3 close friends, along with being raped by a friend whom she felt that she could trust. She fell into a deep state of depression. Unfortunately, the depression took hold of her life. While walking through a Chicago park, late one night, Kristen heard a train whistle blow, and realized that laying down in front of the train could end all of the pain and sorrows she was dealing with. She laid down. She survived. Kristen's survival was seen as both medically impossible and miraculous. 33 train cars rolled over the top of Kristen's body, which severed both of her legs. After the accident, Kristen underwent several reconstructive surgeries and therapy sessions. She battled physical pain and emotional distress. But, most importantly, Kristen found God. She realized that she couldn't live her life on her own terms, or in her own way. She needed someone to lean on -- and God was just that. "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review."
ParisAlexandra More than 1 year ago
Life, In Spite of Me is a very moving story that offers hope to a world full of people who are considering suicide, have attempted suicide, or anyone who has lost a dear one to suicide. It is a story of hope to the depressed, the disabled, and the hopeless. Kristen Jane Anderson wanted to end her pain and her life, so she laid down on the railroad tracks by her house. Thirty-three freight cares ran over her at fifty-five miles per hour and she lived. But her legs had been cut off and were lying on the ground ten feet away from her body. I loved reading Kristen's transformation from a depressed, hurting teen who had been raped to a young woman who lives because God has a purpose for her life. Reading Kristen's story from her perspective was eyeopening, heart breaking, and life changing. The book also includes notes of encouragement from Kristen and resources for suicide prevention. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She wanted to die and God had other plans, definately sums up this inspirational story about Kristen Anderson. A 17 year old teenager dealing with numerous emotional traumas and the inability to cope with it all. I think that many readers no matter what age will be able to relate to her story and truly be able to empathize. Everyone has loved ones pass or have had trouble in's just life. It is a great story of overcoming emotional trauma and weakness and finding faith in God. Moreover, just finally recognizing the small signs God gives us daily to let us know he loves us and is there. There are small letters from the author throughout that give hope to those struggeling with death, suicide, and depression as well. Overall, I thought it was a good inspirational read and quick. It's great for young and older readers.
Pickle331 More than 1 year ago
I can't imagine feeling so desperate about my life that I would think that that laying on railroad tracks to kill myself would solve my problems. But that's how Kristen Anderson felt when she was seventeen years old. Things didn't turn out the way she expected, though. She survived-but lost her legs. Then she faced a whole new set of challenges: learning how to live life as an amputee, coming to remember how she had lost her legs, dealing with the depression that had caused her to feel that death was the only answer, wondering what the future held for her. Her story could have been a bitter pity-party story, but she has an incredibly positive testimony that she shares in this book-a book which is easily and quickly read. She includes short notes periodically to other young women who may be feeling the way she did on that fateful day, encouraging them that life does get better. She is an example of being able to take a horrific experience and allowing God to use it in positive ways. I don't know that I would have read this book had it not been provided free of charge by Multnomah Publishing in exchange for a review-but I'm glad I did.