Atlas Girl



Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.

Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.


free excerpt HERE (chapters 1 & 2)










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ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree ( is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.



Atlas Girl is more than a book; it’s a journey in which Emily Wierenga takes you by the hand and invites you into the broken places in her life. She shares the unexpected beauty God has created in those places as he’s made her heart whole again, and how he can do the same for you. If you’ve ever been hurt or gone through a hard time, this book will give you hope and a new understanding of God’s love for you.” ~ Holley Gerth, bestselling author of You’re Already Amazing


“The best memoirs combine the storytelling elements of a novel–smart pacing, tactile details, people you care about–with the deep insights and spiritual takeaway of great nonfiction. Emily Wierenga deftly serves up that rich blend in Atlas Girl, a nonlinear, wholly moving account of her life’s journey so far. Her honesty is raw, real. Her faith is hard-won. And when it finally pours out, her love–oh, her love soars off the page and makes a nest in our hearts. Brilliant and beautiful.”

~ Liz Curtis Higgs, bestselling author of Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn from Them


“This isn’t just a book, this is a journey. Of grief and wonder, loss and gain. Emily tells a world-spanning story that this world needs in Atlas Girl!” ~ Jon Acuff, New York Times bestselling author of Start and Stuff Christians Like


“Every journal chronicles a journey, and I’m glad to have traveled with Emily on hers. Reading this book isn’t a diversion; it’s an adventure. As you read, may you get lost and found, as I did, on your own road to home.”

~ Jeff Goins, author of The In-Between

With the honesty of a close friend, Emily shares her journey of searching, and being found. Of breaking, and being made whole. Of ending up where she wanted to go and realizing it’s where she least expected to be. It’s the journey every soul was made for and the breath-taking story you’ll find in Atlas Girl.

~Renee Swope, best-selling author of A Confident Heart; Proverbs 31 Ministries Radio Co-host


“When I finished this book, I wanted to give Emily Wierenga a standing ovation for writing such a deeply personal memoir that I literally could not put down. Atlas Girl is moving and beautiful and all heart.” ~ Annie Downs, author of Let’s All Be Brave


“Emily opens wide and allows a beautiful and aching vulnerability in the words of Atlas Girl. It is a story of stories that gently shares of pain, of almost-lost faith, of what love does to a frail soul in a frail body, and how even in the twists and turns of life, we make it. If you could use some ‘making it,’ Atlas Girl will sit with you, offer a shoulder, and minister hope through story.”

~ Sarah Mae, author of Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe


“This is the kind of spiritual memoir I love. The story is vulnerable, insightful, and artfully told. You know you’re in the hands of an expert writer–and yet you never feel like style is getting in the way of heart. I thoroughly enjoyed every word and didn’t want it to end.”

~ Heather Kopp, author of the memoir Sober Mercies


Atlas Girl is both a vulnerable memoir about the sacred art of learning to love and be loved and a gentle reminder to embrace being home, wherever you are.” ~ Myquillyn Smith, author of The Nesting Place


“Raw, emotive and lovely . . . Emily Wierenga’s memoir is captivating, descriptive in imagery and emotion, and you can’t help but find yourself in her story. Emily’s willingness to honestly wrestle through the disappointments and difficulties of life will give you courage to face your own.”

~ Jenni Catron, church leader; author of Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence


“I’m not sure if Emily Wierenga’s Atlas Girl is poetry or prose, or just deserves it’s own category of lovely word crafting, but what I do know is that it is transporting. Her gifted weaving of time and place and story captivated me from the first page and held on to me as I floated, fully engaged, throughout the entire book. Emily said, ‘We don’t live for ourselves. We live for all of those whom our lives touch,’ and her arms reach out and touch the life of the reader as she shares the intersection of people and God in her own life. Cheering, clapping, loving this book and the woman who has borne her soul amidst the pages.”

~ Logan Lane Wolfram, executive director and owner of Allume; author of Life for Dessert


“Emily’s story captured me from the first page–she is an immensely gifted writer with a knack for taking her reader on a journey of experience. I felt like she was giving me an atlas of my own, asking me real, important questions about my own walk through life. Her story about loss, life, and love is worth its telling–I’m glad Emily’s told it.”

~ Tsh Oxenreider, author of Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World


Atlas Girl is both a journal and a journey; a trek of a woman who discovers heartache, happiness, and hope around the globe and a chronicle of the musings and meditations that accompany the blessed, bumpy ride. Emily’s tender vulnerability and honest questions point you to the Lord who already knows the final destination. The best part? You will unearth bits of yourself as your tag along for the sacred voyage.”

~ Karen Ehman, Proverbs 31 national speaker; author of LET. IT. GO., Everyday Confetti, and A Life That Says Welcome


Atlas Girl is about the layers of life that matter: generations and care-taking and love and grief. It is here, tucked in these layers of Emily’s stories and heartbreak, that Jesus is found. We see that to be a child, a grandchild, a parent, a spouse, a friend is to be a citizen of this world. And though our feet are planted here on earth, no matter our location or our circumstances, the kingdom of heaven is palpable and near. Travel with Atlas Girl as she unfolds the layers of her journey around the globe to the center of her heart.”

~ Alexandra Kuykendall, leader and mom content editor, MOPS International; author of The Artist’s Daughter: A Memoir


“Emily Wierenga’s Atlas Girl is a heartfelt reflection, poignantly told, of growing up in the shadows and light of ministry life. She spares no longing, sensuality, heartbreak, ambiguity, or epiphany in telling her story. I wish that all spiritual memoir coming from evangelical circles would be this true-to-voice, grounded, and real. Take and read–you’ll be glad you did.”

~ Mike Morrell, journalist and party-thrower;,


“Not all critics agree, but I believe sometimes we read to find friends. Such is the case with Emily Wierenga’s Atlas Girl. Her vulnerable prose wooed me right out of the blocks and held me to the very end. More than some Everyman, Emily is an Everyfriend. Her journey lays bare the painful grace we all must sooner or later shoulder; that no, the world is not perfect but yes, we can make it seem close for the people we love.”

~ John Blase, author of Know When to Hold ‘Em: The High Stakes Game of Fatherhood


“Emily bravely takes us on a journey through this writing, courageously showing us the pain behind the pulpit that can exist. The transparent story shared about her pastoral family’s life is sure to bring help and healing to many with silent frustrations.”

~ Tara Jenkins, EdD, Sr. pastor’s wife,; founder,

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