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Review: The Book of Mormon Girl

September 13, 2012

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.

Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
24 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2012 4:38 am

    Thanks for sharing … I’m really curious about this peek into the life of a Mormon woman.

  2. September 13, 2012 5:42 am

    Timely, in light of the Mormon who is running for president.

  3. September 13, 2012 7:51 am

    You’re absolutely right – this book IS on my election year reading list. Thanks for the revealing review – it helps in determining exactly which Mormon book to read now – especially this close to the election.

  4. September 13, 2012 7:52 am

    I know what you mean about perhaps being too old for it — not that either of us are old. I sometimes have trouble relating to the books that deal with issues that I’ve long since worked out or come to terms with.

  5. September 13, 2012 7:53 am

    Aargh! I wrote this long comment & then it disappeared! Darn computers! 😀
    Anyways, thank you for this review – I have been considering reading because of the election. Your review definitely helps in determining which Mormon book to read.

  6. September 13, 2012 9:33 am

    Interesting reaction! And yes to what you and Candace say about being “too old” sometimes for angsty stuff!

  7. Beth Hoffman permalink
    September 13, 2012 10:23 am

    I know this book isn’t for me, but I did enjoy the video!

  8. September 13, 2012 10:41 am

    A couple of weeks ago I saw this show on the discovery channel about people who were jewish, but didn’t want to be so strict with it anymore. They wanted to wear clothes that are new, colourful and they also wanted to be more modern. I thought it was really interesting & this book sounds interesting too. A bit like it! 🙂

  9. talesofwhimsy permalink
    September 13, 2012 11:29 am

    Great review. 🙂

  10. September 13, 2012 11:32 am

    I don’t think this is my cup of tea, but I know of some people who would find it interesting.

  11. Literary Feline permalink
    September 13, 2012 11:38 am

    I think her struggle is one many people have with their own faiths–where personal belief and ideals don’t match up to church doctrine. Some people end up leaving their churches as a result while others learn to live with the discrepancies. I’m curious to know what she decided.

  12. September 13, 2012 12:33 pm

    Interesting, the book does sound like one I would like to try. I have read a few books on the Mormon faith both fiction and non fiction.

  13. sandynawrot permalink
    September 13, 2012 1:03 pm

    I love memoirs, even from people who aren’t necessarily famous. I just like learning about different people’s lives and experiences. Not sure it would totally connect with me because I’m not struggling with my faith, but I like to go into these books with the idea that if it doesn’t apply to me, maybe it might apply to a friend and then I can recommend the book AND sort of understand where they are coming from.

  14. September 13, 2012 1:11 pm

    Kathy, I also read this book. I found it very interesting as I know many Mormons. Thanks for your honest review.

  15. Patty permalink
    September 13, 2012 3:12 pm

    Hmmm…sounds interesting buti rarely go down the memoir path…lol…

  16. September 13, 2012 3:21 pm

    I’m not wild about memoirs but I do enjoy it when folks of faith take hard looks at their cherished and beloved communities and work through what it means — my wife has gone through that herself as a Christian and lesbian (and former minister!) — I have more than one reader in my life who would love this book.

  17. September 13, 2012 3:24 pm

    I don’t read many memoirs, but generally enjoy them when I do. And I’d love to learn more about the Mormon faith…I have a feeling that a lot of the information I have is actually misinformation. Still, I’m not sure if this book is for me or not. Perhaps if I see it at the library…

  18. zibilee permalink
    September 13, 2012 3:41 pm

    I have this book on my shelf, and have been interested in reading it. One of the things that I find so interesting is the different perspectives that people take on religion, both on theirs or others. I look back and see that my religious views have changed so very much since the time I left high school. Excellent review today. I’m sorry this one didn’t totally enchant you though.

  19. September 13, 2012 4:23 pm

    I grew up in the mormon church too, and have since left it. I’m always interested in hearing about other women’s similar experiences, so I’m for sure adding this book to my reading list!

  20. bookingmama permalink
    September 13, 2012 7:59 pm

    I’m on the fence with this one — not sure I’d appreciate it. Maybe I just can’t relate or else I’m too old.

  21. September 14, 2012 2:53 am

    Sounds like an interesting read, and I think you’re right that it could be popular this election year.

  22. September 14, 2012 2:08 pm

    I think this is a journey that we all go through to some extent: deciding as an adult if we truly believe all the aspects of the religion in which we were raised. Still, I could see having a reaction similar to yours.

  23. September 15, 2012 10:12 pm

    Sometimes I feel really lucky to have never grown up in a religious home!!

  24. September 17, 2012 11:32 pm

    Not for me. We all go through religious decisions growing up, but too much introspection from someone else would bore me to tears.

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