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My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  113 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Kelly Barth, like many American kids, went to Sunday school, sang songs about Zaccheas, and was tucked in with bedtime prayers. A typical Christian kid, that is, until she developed a searingly deep crush on another little girl playing afterhours in church, and more importantly, until Jesus—a tiny, imaginary Jesus, one that stays “safely tucked behind the baseboard or the ...more
Paperback, 229 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Arktoi
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Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I went to church yesterday. Not in the literal, time honored sense, but I finished a book I've been reading and felt as if I had been to church. The book is ironically named My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus by Kelly Barth. Told with sincerity, honesty, and humor, this memoir could have been my life on so many levels - not so much in specific details, but in many of the passages Barth traveled on her journey as a gay woman of faith. I like that better than describing her as a woman of fai ...more
Edward Sullivan
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, religion, lgbtq
An honest, interesting, and frequently humorous memoir by a gay woman from a fundamentalist background coming to terms with her Christian faith.
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
A review of mine, published in the Missoula Independent:

Fundamentalist religion and homosexuality have never been on especially good terms. In Kelly Barth's debut memoir, My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus, the tension between being Christian and being gay results in a personal implosion. In the book, Barth, who studied writing at the University of Montana, immerses herself in the ritual self-hatreds of right-wing religion while attempting to find distinctiveness as a lesbian and a writer
David Veazey
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this memoir by a woman I am privileged to know, who grew up in Raytown, Missouri, where I now live and went, among others, to where I went to church at Broadway Baptist and Crossroads Churches. Kelly Barth is particularly open and creative in sharing how she went through much of the same religious questioning and emotional challenges about trying to fit in as the rest of us, but the same time was trying to work through questions of her own sexual identity. Let me know whether y ...more
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
A little slow-moving at times, but well-worth a read. Ms. Barth's honesty is incredible. A beautiful story of finding love and finding faith and combining the two, whether judged for it or not. I was often sickened by what the author went through as she grew up denying her sexuality, being taught things that I was taught growing up but didn't affect me as greatly as a straight woman. This is such an amazing story and testament of how life can be changed by faith, love, and acceptance, of oneself ...more
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An illuminating and rewarding read for straight and gay Christians alike, this engagingly powerful memoir tells the story of a lesbian Christian's journey through fundamentalism to a place where even she can feel loved and secure within her Christian faith. Highly recommended!
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Funny in an Anne Lamott sort of way, and poignant throughout. Proof that coming out is not for sissies.
Cara Orban
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I knew that I would find this book interesting, but I had no idea how much it would resonate with me. Young people often struggle with self-loathing and become expert shape-shifters. We buy into false dichotomies, and we make ourselves miserable trying to live up to their demands after we force ourselves to choose sides. Kelly's misery is, as for so many of us, bound up in her desire to please her family as well as her God. Those desires, she realizes at a very early age, conflict with more auth ...more
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
There are many reasons I draw a heart around this book, not the least of which is the similarities of the author's journey to mine: Being gay and growing up in a compulsorily religious family, Fundamentalism, Youth for Christ, Bill Gothard, Pentecostalism, Exodus, Living Waters, feeling in the church like a piece of "machinery in need of parts and service." More surprising still is that she grew up in the Kansas City area, making her story seem even more uncannily familiar. I could not help laug ...more
Kari Hansen
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
I especially found the first part of this book funny- laugh out loud funny in spots. Her struggles with being lesbian and Christian are depicted with both humor and poignancy. My heart was warmed with the falling-in-love section.
Mary Beth
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
The author tried for many years not to be gay, though she knew she was at age 4. Always maintaining a relationship with Jesus (the one in the title), she veered through multiple expressions of church and of repression. This is a good read and a great tale of learning to be true to self.
Oct 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I am ten years older than Kelly Barth, but we might have grown up in the same church. I could identify with many of the issues on the table, and I wondered if any of my friends had a similar experience to Kelly's, being gay or lesbian. Funny and moving.
May 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This memoir was both funny and thoughtful. I enjoyed getting a look into what it was like for Barth to grow up in a fundamentalist faith, and come out as a lesbian. I especially liked how she was able to bring her faith and her true self together, giving up neither.
Feb 22, 2013 rated it liked it
My almost certainly real imaginary Jesus by Kelly Barth was a very hard book for me to read. Kelly's search for acceptance, her struggle to find people like herself was heartbreaking.

April 2013
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
A very honest and straightforward account of the author's life as a Christian and a-trying-not-to-be-lesbian. Luckily, there is a happy ending for everyone-even Jesus.
Samantha Wilde
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
A wonderful, thoughtful, insightful memoir, gently told, delicately provocative, intimate without being gratuitous and kind.
Brent Bridges
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Sincere, authentic, and heart-felt. You could feel that this story has been trying to come out of Kelly for a while. A wonderful journey of struggle and ultimately of acceptance.
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013

4 1/2. Nice memoir!
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I liked Barth's memoir about growing up both fundamentalist Christian and lesbian. She embraced the former, and tried very very hard not to be the latter. She prayed a lot, tried dating men, tried conversion therapy, tried moving away, and so on, becoming more and more miserable. However, throughout, she held on to the Jesus she had envisioned as a child, which is where the weird title comes from. Since her church taught that she needed to "invite Jesus into her heart," she imagined him as tiny, ...more
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I could relate to Kelly's bumping all over the map of American Christianity, particularly over the fundamentalist parts--a jarring ride that can continue to upset your balance years down the road. The title makes more sense as you read it. I laughed out loud more than once. The last chapter takes several surprising twists.

"A question on the first page read, 'In your own words describe what it means to be a Presbyterian.'...I took a pencil badly in need of sharpening and wrote, 'It me
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
On paper, I was one of the teenage girls contributing to Barth's alienation growing up: a smiling cheerleader dating the quarterback, dabbling in the FCA. But despite outward differences, inside I so identified with Barth's experience. I grew up in a fundamentalist household in the Midwest and with parents that struggled with poverty and an unhappy marriage. I never felt like I fit in and was often depressed and lonely and couldn't wait to get out of my narrow-minded hometown and find my own way ...more
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting look into a woman who was raised in a religious household and despite knowing she was gay, trying to deny it even going so far as to enrolling in a "reparative therapy" program and becoming more of a fundamentalist. It drug a bit in places and you wanted to shake some sense into her younger self in others but overall a good book.
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wonderful read
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
I felt like it really dragged on. Solid MEH rating.
Barth's wise wit is awe-inspiring, yet this memoir is also emotionally-vulnerable, raw and deeply resonate for me.
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
The author is a friend of mine and I've heard her read from this book twice.
Jen R.
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Mar 05, 2014
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Jan 02, 2014
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Jan 14, 2015
Joshua Disneyq
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Jun 28, 2017
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My Story Book Club: Online Chat with Kelly Barth 37 12 Dec 27, 2012 10:55AM  
My Story Book Club: Reading Schedule 1 2 Dec 02, 2012 08:23PM  
Kelly Barth lives on very little money in a very small house with her partner Lisa Grossman in Lawrence, Kansas. She was a fiction fellow in the University of Montana’s creative writing program and has received fellowships from the Missouri Arts Council and the Kansas Arts Commission. Her work has been published in anthologies and literary journals, most recently Coal City Review, Literary Bird Jo ...more