"À la Tara Westover's Educated, Scorah's pensive, ultimately liberating memoir chronicles her formative years as a Jehovah's Witness...and captures the bewilderment of belief and the bliss of self-discovery...[Leaving the Witness] is a suture for anyone searching to reconcile their past and present selves." (O, The Oprah Magazine - named one of "The Best Books by Women of Summer 2019")
"Scorah's book, the bravery of which cannot be overstated, is an earnest one, fueled by a plucky humor and a can-do spirit that endears. Her tale, though an exploration of extremity, is highly readable and warm." (The New York Times Book Review)
A riveting memoir of losing faith and finding freedom while a covert missionary in one of the world's most restrictive countries.
A third-generation Jehovah's Witness, Amber Scorah had devoted her life to sounding God's warning of impending Armageddon. She volunteered to take the message to China, where the preaching she did was illegal and could result in her expulsion or worse. Here, she had some distance from her community for the first time. Immersion in a foreign language and culture - and a whole new way of thinking - turned her world upside down, and eventually led her to lose all that she had been sure was true.
As a proselytizer in Shanghai, using fake names and secret codes to evade the authorities' notice, Scorah discreetly looked for targets in public parks and stores. To support herself, she found work at a Chinese language learning podcast, hiding her real purpose from her coworkers. Now with a creative outlet, getting to know worldly people for the first time, she began to understand that there were other ways of seeing the world and living a fulfilling life. When one of these relationships became an "escape hatch", Scorah's loss of faith culminated in her own personal apocalypse, the only kind of ending possible for a Jehovah's Witness.
Shunned by family and friends as an apostate, Scorah was alone in Shanghai and thrown into a world she had only known from the periphery - with no education or support system. A coming of age story of a woman already in her 30s, this unforgettable memoir examines what it's like to start one's life over again with an entirely new identity. It follows Scorah to New York City, where a personal tragedy forces her to look for new ways to find meaning in the absence of religion. With compelling, spare prose, Leaving the Witness traces the bittersweet process of starting over, when everything one's life was built around is gone.
“In her impressive debut, Scorah recounts her years as a Jehovah’s Witness in China, her decision to leave the faith, and her ongoing spiritual questioning...Scorah’s prose is straightforward, and she has a winning sense of humor about how much she’s changed...Scorah provides a rare glimpse into the insular world of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and her accounts of expat life and leaving her faith should give this candid memoir wide appeal.” (Publishers Weekly)
"Scorah’s book, the bravery of which cannot be overstated, is an earnest one, fueled by a plucky humor and a can-do spirit that endears. Her tale, though an exploration of extremity, is highly readable and warm.... She teaches us how integrity is determined not by assenting to the juvenile claims of fundamentalism, but by enduring the universe as we find it - breathtaking in its ecstasies and vicious in its losses - without recourse to a God. Given the enormity of her grief and the wholesale collapse of her previous belief system, the intellectual integrity that Scorah displays is nothing short of a miracle.” (The New York Times Book Review)
“À la Tara Westover’s Educated, Scorah’s pensive, ultimately liberating memoir chronicles her formative years as a Jehovah’s Witness - a 'life in waiting' that included a sham marriage, covert missionary work in China, and eventual shunning by her religious community - and captures the bewilderment of belief and the bliss of self-discovery. Writing 'stitched the narrative arc of my life back together', Scorah says; her book is a suture for anyone searching to reconcile their past and present selves.” (O, The Oprah Magazine)