Review: The Book of Mormon Girl
Joanna Brooks grew up in California as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and deeply loved her faith. Rather than feeling restrictive, the edicts of her church made her feel special. Her home life revolved around the church and she grew up in a home filled with love and happiness.
When Brooks went off to Brigham Young University in Utah, she began to question some of the tenets she believed in so strongly. She wasn’t sure if she could live with a church that disagreed with her beliefs on women’s rights and homosexuality.
But instead I found myself a headstrong Mormon woman staking out her spiritual survival at a difficult point in Mormon history. “You’ll leave the Church,” non-Mormon friends would sometimes confide, patting me gently on my hand. They could see the depths of my anguish. “You don’t deserve to belong here,” said conservative voices in the Church. No, no, no, I pushed back in, in my heart, in my prayers. How to pull myself out of this desolation?
Joanna Brooks‘ memoir, The Book of Mormon Girl, is her story of growing up in the Mormon faith. More importantly than that, though, it’s the story of her questioning the values of a church she holds dear and her attempts at coming to terms with those values. Her story is not all that different from that of many young people when they leave home for the first time.
I had mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed reading about Brooks’ childhood and admired the deep faith she shared with her family. I also enjoyed it when she first went off to college, but when she got into the feminist movement in the Mormon church, my interest began to wane. I’m not really sure why, though, because I believe she and the women she works with have valid grievances and arguments – maybe it’s because they’re not my arguments to make. Or, maybe I’m just too old for an introspective book like this. Either way, I liked the book, but didn’t love it.
I do think young people who are struggling to make peace with the church of their childhood will enjoy this more than I did. I also think The Book of Mormon Girl may find a place on many people’s election year reading lists.