The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith
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The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  2,189 ratings  ·  651 reviews
Every Mormon girl has a story to tell. This groundbreaking memoir brings you into one of America’s most fascinating but least understood religious traditions. With humor, tenderness, and honesty, The Book of Mormon Girl reveals what it’s like to grow up in a world where angels stand at our bedsides and ancestors know our names, where Coca-Cola is forbidden fruit and Marie...more
Kindle Edition, 216 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by Queen Bee Industries
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The Backslider by Levi S. PetersonThe Lonely Polygamist by Brady UdallUnder the Banner of Heaven by Jon KrakauerThe Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna BrooksThe New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker
Alternative Mormon Literature
4th out of 47 books — 23 voters
A People's History of the United States by Howard ZinnMe Talk Pretty One Day by David SedarisAmerica (The Book) by Jon Stewart1776 by David McCulloughAssassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
The Daily Show Reading Club
55th out of 313 books — 168 voters


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Petra X
I was in two minds whether to write a review of this book or just to leave the notes that engendered such a discussion in the comments. They are encased in spoilers at the end now. The comments are quite good as one Mormon defended the Church's policy of considering supporters of equality for women as an excommunicable sin by discussing its irrelevance in her own life.

If this review looks like it goes on a bit too much (it does, more than a bit too, I know, mea culpa), then head on down to the...more
Kip
Feb 01, 2012 Kip rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Wendy
I know that some of my Mormon friends would not like this memoir because it is unorthodox, because it sheds a light on our church and our culture that is sometimes critical (though there is great love as well), and because it is not (they would say) representative of typical Mormon experience (whatever that is). They would dispute many of the book's premises and conclusions. Nevertheless, I found this memoir to be moving and insightful. I don't always see things the same way Brooks does, but I a...more
Brent
I'm a lifelong Mormon, straight, male, and not a feminist. Despite all that, I instantly liked Joanna Brooks after seeing her on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart and reading the introduction to The Book of Mormon Girl Stories from an American Faith. Her opening chapter, explaining much of what it means to grow up as a Latter-day Saint, resonated with me. What a lovely piece of prose.

There's a lot to like in this book: the prose, the chapter on Marie Osmond (so, so funny), all the seemingly odd...more
Jon
Mar 13, 2012 Jon added it
Joanna Brooks grew up in an orthodox Mormon home in Southern California. When she left that home to attend BYU she found kinship with several professors who held an unorthodox, ecumenical view of the faith. Sadly, it was a time (early 90s) when the tensions between church leadership and intellectual unorthodoxy were particularly high, and several BYU professors (some of whom mentored Brooks) were excommunicated. These tensions led Brooks to become distant from Mormonism.

Brooks says that a talk b...more
goddess
I happened to be at the local library and picked this up out of curiosity. Disclaimer: I’m not a feminist in the worldly sense. I’m a feminist in my own right.....one who believes in the value and beauty of women; one who believes women should be and do all kinds of wonderful things; one who believes we should celebrate our differences with men rather than curse God and seek retribution. I'm not ignorant of The Church's flaws; but I celebrate its greatness. So I knew going into this book I’d bet...more
Deborah Markus
Are all autobiographies and memoirs now required to be vague? First Unorthodox, and now this. Both books were written by intelligent women who had something to say and then spent half the book refusing to say it.

Look: If I'm reading your story, it's because I want to hear your story. So tell it, already.

If you're a Mormon and a feminist, what does that mean to you? What does feminism mean in the context of Mormonism? You mention that when you were growing up in the Mormon church, twelve-year-old...more
Peter
This was a disappointing memoir. The author leads the reader into her atypical "Mormon" experience. However she soon exiles herself because she cannot come to terms with core tenants of church doctrine (ie. gay marriage is not ordained of God; she also prays to a Heavenly Mother). She eventually falls into inactivity after her mentor is excommunicated and yet blames the LDS Church for not being flexible enough to include people with her unorthodox beliefs. She talks more about her desire for her...more
Katie Johnson
I wanted to like this book more than I did. The first half was describing what it was like for her growing up as a Mormon. I guess I was expecting it to be a little bit more interesting. And while there were a lot of "that's so true" or "oh yeah, I did that", I don't know I just didn't find that reading about it was that enjoyable. Just "eh". Although the chapter about the Marie Osmond book was good. A great telling if what it's like when you're 12 years old. Also, I liked how she pointed out ho...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
The tampon in the cup of root beer was the funniest damn thing in the whole book.
Sjcapanna
As a non-Mormon, my opinions of the LDS church have come from the media and from my personal experiences with members of the Mormon church. Those opinions are largely negative, especially when it comes to the church's attitudes toward gender differences.

This book was one of the few times in my life where I witnessed somebody making a compelling argument in favor of membership in the Mormon church. (Surprisingly, one of the other times was the famous South Park episode about Mormons.) Joanna Bro...more
Liss
This book is not for me. However, the reason I gave it only two stars is the writing.

The writing of this book is juvenile and difficult to follow. It's like it was written by a college student for a memoir writing class. I assume that the intended audience is people who don't know Mormons (as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often called). Certainly the intended audience cannot be those who grew up Mormon, because if it was then it is way to dumbed down for them.

Wh...more
Abby
I heard this woman interviewed on the radio one day, and wanted to read her book. I was hoping to get a lot more out of it. It pretty much tanked for me.



I was expecting a lifelong active LDS woman who also is a feminist, sharing her history and views on the church and her world. She mentioned in the radio interview that there are many unflattering events in the history of the church that have been covered up or glossed over, and how she wants us to have an honest discussion about how they happen...more
Tatiana
I enjoyed this memoir immensely. Joanna is awesome. I learned a little more what it's like to grow up in the church I chose as an adult. We share the condition of being liberal and feminist in a church that swung a long way into conservative territory around the turn of the 20th century, and clings to patriarchy still today in the 21st. You'd think people like Joanna and me could just leave the church, but there's so much more to it than that. For Joanna, she has her whole pioneer family history...more
Christy
Reading this, particularly the chapters from teenagehood and beyond, was the most spiritual experience I've had in a long time. I recommend it to everyone, particularly women, and more particularly, women who don't feel like they fit the mold. I thought it would be a battle cry for Mormon feminists, but it's more like a song - a beautiful, bittersweet, lyrical piece that connects the peculiar, powerful past of Mormonism with the promise of a brighter and more inclusive future.
Kris Irvin
Every Mormon girl DOES have a story to tell - and all stories are different. If you've read this book, you've read the story of one Mormon. Not the entirety of the church population.

I was hesitant to read this book because I wasn't sure if it was anti-LDS or not. From the blurb on the back, it seemed to be. But I picked it up and read a few pages and decided to continue on.

So much of this book doesn't really apply to my experiences in the LDS religion. I was born in the late 80s and so grew up...more
Bridget
The Book of Mormon Girl is half hilarious, half heartbreaking. Joanna Brooks is almost exactly ten years older than me, so I was surprised (and delighted) to find that her childhood brand of Mormonism resonated so strongly with my own. Some of the things she mentioned about growing up Mormon rang so true to me and brought up memories I hadn't thought about in YEARS (like searching for the root beer among the Cokes at birthday parties, seriously!). She, too, endured a regional dance festival, biz...more
David Redden
I really enjoyed this book. This is a sweet, inspiring, and well-written personal account of girl raised in the close and comforting Mormon culture who later finds herself an empowered liberal intellectually-minded feminist woman in the early 90s. Unfortunately, right about the same time, Mormon leadership declared two of the three (intellectualism and feminism) to be primary dangers to the church, and the other (liberalism) is probably still considered to be incompatible with the gospel by the...more
Rachael
I felt many things while reading this book. I am not sure I will articulate it correctly, but here goes.

I felt familiarity, contentment, disagreement, compassion, and even a little uncomfortable at times. (I'll admit it.) Maybe I am more "unorthodox" than I realize, because I didn't find her views all that shocking. Or maybe they have become normalized in certain circles. I didn't love this book, but there were a few parts which I found fabulous. I gave it 3 stars because of how it made me feel...more
Jan


Joanna Brooks writes candidly about growing up Mormon in California in the 80s. Her explanations of the culture, teachings, and what it feels like to be LDS are spot on. We know we are seen as peculiar by many, but feel warm and safe in our close knit Mormon wards. As she matures at BYU she bumps into Mormon feminism and starts to question the way women and intellectuals are viewed by the church hierarchy. Later on, married to a Jewish man, and the mother of two young girls, she comes face to f...more
Dianna Kearney
As a Mormon woman, I was expecting a lot from this book. It disappointed me though, and not for the reasons you might think. Ms. Brooks was very articulate and poetic in painting her own picture of her Mormon childhood and young adulthood. I found many similarities in her growing up years and mine, so I identified with many of her experiences.

Unfortunately, the tone of Ms. Brooks' writing was quite confusing and almost monopolized the prose as it went from playful to sarcastic to serious within...more
Daryoung
OK, I'm going to cop out here as usual. The book and the opinion I'm going to spout deserve a more thoughtful review than I have time or inclination for. So, in a nutshell:

first half: semi-interesting in an "Oh, I recognize that" sort of way. Possibly more interesting to people who aren't already familiar with LDS culture, who I think are her intended audience anyway.

second half: a little tiresome. There were some inaccurate generalizations (she skipped over, or declined to go into, the much mor...more
Karen
I have no idea how I'm going to review this book. It's too personal for me on several levels.

1. I am a liberal Mormon like Joanna (but unlike her in some ways). 2. I am from the same home town. Her dad was my bishop back in Cypress, CA; her mom is good friends with my mother. They still talk on the phone regularly even though they don't live in the same state anymore.
3. I have pioneer ancestors like she does (I'm 5th generation Mormon), and my mother acculturated me in So. Cal. as if I was a ea...more
Jane
I really wanted to give this more stars. Please bear with me while I try to explain how much I liked this book and why I didn't.

The content of this book really touched me. She experienced a very different Mormon childhood than I did. I grew up in "the mission field" but had quite a few friends at my school who were also LDS so I never felt too alone or different. My parents are converts who never attended the Temple. So I don't have the religious history of my ancestors to compare to my current...more
Alissa
I will keep this brief to avoid confrontation, but I should have found out more about this woman before I read the book. I was intrigued by the title and thought it would be about a girl who stood up and defended her religion despite hardships and opposition. Rather, the book should have been called 'The Book ABOUT a Mormon Girl' and should have more clearly stated that it would be about a girl standing up for her opinions and views that differ from the mainstream views of her religion. I felt t...more
Misty
At the beginning of this book, I wasn't impressed. She had a light cynicism that she added to her experiences. She would state a fact of being LDS but then add a slight twist/barb that was often unique to some "orthodox LDS" culture, not doctrine. But since that distinction wasn't there yet, a non-LDS reader, would not be aware of it. For example, speaking as a youth she said "our parents would go to the temple to do baptisms for 'dead US presidents' and other people." Yes, that probably happene...more
Becca Van Tassell
I like this book because I think it works through an experience that I think a lot of people can relate to. The author grew up in a church that always felt right and comfortable and safe, but as she matured she slowly came to realize that she didn't fit as comfortably as she always thought, and went through a painful period of self exploration to recreate a place for herself.

That said, I wish it were written a little differently. It's presented as a series of memories and impressions in short, p...more
Cookie
I follow Joanna Brooks on Twitter, and really enjoy her posts. When I heard that she had written a book, I had to read it. While I am not Mormon, her stories resonated with me. I, too, grew up in an environment where religion and culture were joined at the hip, and I found her stories "familiar" and heartwarming (or heartbreaking, depending on the story). While I may not have had jello salad, funeral potatoes, or object lessons - what I did have seems an awful lot like them.

What I appreciated mo...more
Ami
Sep 11, 2012 Ami rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: not-bad
I think there has been a fair amount of hyperbole surrounding this book. In the end, I found it to be interesting but kind of mediocre.
First, speaking on the writing: this book was seriously in need of a good editor. I realize it was originally self-published, so Brooks wouldn't have had the typical editing process. But isn't she a professor of English at a major university? Even ignoring the higher expectation of writing quality from an English professor, wouldn't she have had ample friends and...more
Jamie
I read this in a night and a day. As a person who considers herself a Mormon feminist, this book was very refreshing. While some elements of Brooks' Mormonism aren't the same as my experience with Mormonism (pretzels in jello? Never heard of that one!), others were very much the same. I appreciated her honesty about her issues with the Church, and that honesty leads to a deeper understanding of the entire purpose of Christ's sacrifice: love, mercy, and inclusion.

I felt like this emphasis on inc...more
Adrienne
I love Joanna Brooks for her courage, both to question AND to embrace Mormonism. It seems like most Mormons choose one or the other: criticism or total endorsement, rejection or complete acceptance, bitterness or unquestioning devotion. I'm so happy--and encouraged--to have a Mormon voice to unite those of us who cannot accept all of Mormonism, and yet want it to be a part of our lives. Because, as Brooks points out, it IS a part of who we are, regardless of how we react to it.

On page 159, she...more
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Any non-Mormons read this book? 6 59 Apr 14, 2013 05:29PM  
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Joanna Brooks is a national voice on Mormon life and politics and an award-winning scholar of religion and American culture. She covers Mormonism, faith, and politics for ReligionDispatches.org and has been named one of “50 Politicos to Watch” by Politico.com.

A twenty-year veteran of the Mormon feminist and LGBT equality movements, Brooks grew up in a conservative Mormon home among the last great...more
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