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Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond
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Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond

3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  760 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
Secret Ceremonies is the story of the awakening of Deborah Laake, who came of age in the early seventies in a manner that would have appeared out-of-step but certainly not tumultuous to an outsider. At a time when her generation was protesting a war and transforming national headlines into a saga of campus violence, she was instead a typical Mormon girl who experienced her ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 5th 1994 by Island (first published April 1993)
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Petra Eggs
Jan 11, 2015 Petra Eggs rated it really liked it
Update I just had to share this. She is on the bed with her fiance, they are kissing and she says they are 'bumping pubic bones' (what the rest of us call dry humping or similar) when she has her first orgasm, which sets him off. So she doesn't know (at 19) what it is but is afraid it has affected her purity so they go to a Mormon gynaecologist together to find out what it was... It is obviously true, you wouldn't even think of something like this to make it up1

What does this sound lik
Feb 03, 2008 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-biographies
A compelling story that shows the danger of letting an organization control your thoughts and self-esteem. This is an extreme case, but tales of psychological abuse similar to this are all too common in the Mormon Church. Deborah Laake's memoir is vivid in detail, intelligent, and ultimately very moving. Deborah committed suicide years after this was published, but her book remains a warning to those of us left behind.
Jan 03, 2013 Allison rated it really liked it
Yet another memoir by a woman who desperately needed mental health support but, guided by fundamentalist church leaders (all men) was told to cleave tighter to her church and submit to and obey her husband. "If only you were a better wife you wouldn't be so unhappy!" Add to this the complication (in my mind, a complication) that the fundamentalist church leaders were from the Mormon church and it was definitely very difficult for her. So difficult to separate the notion of a loving God from the ...more
Feb 22, 2009 Ellyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2005
If you want to be convinced that Mormonism is a cult, then this is your book! It's one woman's story of her experiences in the Mormon church, beginning with her marriage as a student at Brigham Young University. It comes across as sensational and tell-all and doesn't attempt to be balanced. I can't deny that it was interesting... but it's defintely one woman's story with no attempt at a greater sense of cultural or historical perspective.
I was working at the library and saw this book as I checked it out to a patron. Interested, I put it on hold for myself. I picked it up early this morning to read because I couldn't sleep, and surprisingly, have already finished it.

It's surprising because truly, this book didn't hold my interest like I thought it would. I was born and raised a very devout Mormon, and only left the Church a couple of years ago after I starting questioning doctrine that I had held as absolute truth all of my life.
Jun 24, 2009 Stacie rated it it was amazing
I have this book in hard cover. I have read this book at least 3 times myself. I first found it in paperback in my early 20s. The book cover and the title is likened to a fiction book. This book is non fiction and the complete title is:
"Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond"

In my early 20s, I passed the book to a friend at work and I never saw that copy again. That copy was passed around to just about everyone where I worked.

I am not good a writing reviews b
Twiggy Strauss
Aug 06, 2007 Twiggy Strauss rated it did not like it
I thought this would be the next step after reading "The Banner of Heaven" to get more insight on the rituals of Mormonism. This was more of a personal narrative with some discussion of the rituals involved in being a Mormon wife. The author also never offers any take home points about women's role within the religion, while she touches on it briefly throughout the narrative.
Apr 06, 2008 Rae rated it did not like it
Shelves: temple-stuff
A poorly written, almost Harlequinesque, highly sensational account of an ex-Mormon woman's experiences at BYU, in the temple, and in marriage. Not worth the paper it was printed on. If you have questions, ask a real Mormon rather than relying on stuff like this...
Aug 25, 2007 Betsy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
fascinating. convinced me that mormonism is a cult.
Nancy Loe
Aug 04, 2007 Nancy Loe rated it it was amazing
Horrifying and illuminating.
Lauren orso
May 06, 2011 Lauren orso rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2011, mormonalia
i read this book because of some research on it i did ( ), and it is decidedly NOT SILLY.
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 Althea Ann rated it liked it
This non-fiction autobiography purports to be an expose of the Mormon religion, but is really just an expose of one woman's unhappy life.

I haven't learned anything I didn't know about Mormonism from this book, but I have learned more details than I really ever needed to know about a stranger's sex life!

The book isn't very well written, either, but it has the same weird appeal as that of a daytime talk show, where you can't really figure out WHY the guests want to reveal these sordid and intimate
Jul 18, 2015 dianne rated it liked it
Shelves: mormon
This is a pretty good book but i like to save 4 and 5 stars for brilliance. What an insane coaster ride a Mormon girlhood looks to a critically thinking mind. Which is why that sort is discouraged. "Intellectual", i hear, is a derogatory term to Mormons. What blew me away most was the prying into her most private self so that untrained and horribly sexist white men could decide her worthiness.

She describes her Temple marriage (which sounds like a cartoon version of a Masonic' rite) during which
May 12, 2014 Lwf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Living in a huge Mormon community, it was eye opening to read this book. It shows how the LDS church values male priesthood authority above all else. How a female cannot get to the celestial kingdom (the highest level of heaven) without having a husband to bring her there. If I had any thoughts of ever entertaining this religion, this book sealed the deal not too.

I felt the author has a lot of mental health issues, not sure why, if she was born with her issues or if they were caused by her chu
May 20, 2009 Aleisha rated it did not like it
A client gave me this book to was shocking but I am unsure how much is true. It is the story of a girl raised in the mormon church and her struggles in marriage along with details of the church practices. May be offensive to members of the church and I don't recommend taking everything she says as the truth.
I lived in Utah for a number of years and reading books relating to the dominate religion of the area has provided a lot of insight into the culture of that state.

I can see how beliefs that one is raised with can really stick in your sub-conscious, and mold your behaviors long after you consciously choose to leave them behind. Mormonism is a very strange belief system, and I truely wonder at the highly educated individuals with whom I am acquianted who are members of the LDS Church (and folks, I
Badly written. The author was extremely childish and naive throughout, and comes across as a very flat, one sided character. It's hard to believe anyone was actually that simple in how she thought - I'm sure the author was trying to just oversimplify the events of her life, but it didn't come across that way.

I didn't really learn anything new about Mormonism either, which is why I read the book, and could not like Laake as a person, which made for a dreadful book.
Jan 09, 2008 Nichole rated it it was ok
I was drawn to this book because my biological dad and his family are Mormons and I was curious about the weird rumors I'd heard about the religion. This book starts out spilling all the juicy details, then veers off into this woman's battles with depression, low self esteem and possible mental illness. It's an interesting read.
♥ Marlene♥
on Wednesday, March 01, 2006 I wrote about this book:

Read this in a couple of hours. I was shocked to learn that the author had commited suicide a couple of years after this book was published.

It was a very interesting read. Not the best of writing but an interesting view on the Mormoms church.
Jul 01, 2014 Corey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This wasn't what I expected. I am fascinated by the history of the Mormon church and its secretive ceremonies. You do get glimpses into these topics, but the book is really about one woman's journey into self discovery. It was an interesting read, just not what I was expecting.
Mary Allred
May 15, 2014 Mary Allred rated it liked it
This is an interesting book. I grew up Mormon. I now know it's a cult. This book reminded me of many things I was told/taught growing up that sound crazy now but I accepted because I was a child. Some parts were pretty slow and hard to keep my attention.
Nov 04, 2007 Hayseed rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: learn a small bit about Mormons and women
Supposedly Mormon secrets, but mostly about her descent into mental problems and how the church failed her expectations. Kind of a sad book
Nov 05, 2009 Denidevine rated it really liked it
Facinating look at a part of Mormonism...the author commited suicide after the book was out.
Apr 10, 2015 pH rated it it was ok
'...the day ahead was made up only of opportunities for catching the glance of the love of my life as we passed each other on the side walk, and I fell asleep wondering how many more days would slide by before I found him. I knew romance was about to overtake me.’
This thought to me sums up what the heart of this novel is. Laake does delve into how her Mormon upbringing shaped her and how the religion had an effect on her but the issue which seems to loom the largest in the book is her overwhelmi
Jan 29, 2015 Joe rated it liked it
It’s a decent story about a former Mormon who is raised in the faith but encounters disappointment as an adult. I thought it might be a bitter account of someone who hated the church, someone full of bias critiques, but even later in life she finds herself going back to the vicinity, because as imperfect as its members can be, the gospel has a certain draw. Not a great read. I, being a guy, can’t relate, and my experiences have not been similar. Then again, lots has changed since the 70’s when m ...more
Jan 15, 2008 Libraryscat rated it liked it
Laake's story of her young adulthood as a Mormon is very easy to read although the content is somewhat disturbing. Her religious aspirations to be pleasing to God found their earthly home in bad marriages which assured her way into heaven and damning her when they failed. In spite of oaths that would require bodily harm if she shared any information about the secret ceremonies, Laake allows her readers to join her in the Temple ceremonies which bound her to her first husband in this life and the ...more
I found this book interesting, but also tiresome and dreary. The first 3/4ths are a chronicle of going from one relationship to another, it's more a story about "the men in my life" than "my life". And it got on my nerves. The last part was when she finally broke through that whole thing of living through men and started living for herself and it got much better right before it ended.
This author revealed way more about the ceremonies in the Mormon Temple than any other I've read. She was also gr
Mar 18, 2010 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because of Martha Beck's mention in her awesome Leaving the Saints. She was recalling her "temple marriage," and my interest was piqued when she referred to Laake's book as far more revealing than hers about inner Temple practices.

So, meh. I thought Laake's style was horrendous and disjointed and I'm snobby enough to find sentences such as: "I never got completely clear on the nature of Eugenie's disorder" intensely irritating. I'm not a perfect writer, but... well, I gues
Feb 02, 2008 Darth rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Any Mormon or otherwise religiously raised woman, who is in an unfulfilling marriage
Shelves: non-fiction
This was okay, but not great. From the title I did expect something more concrete than a few oblique and anecdotal references to the "Secret Ceremonies" in the title...
I am thinking the publishers replaced the original title with this one to make it seem more Tell ALL ish....
The subtitle is much truer to the story line.
In the end it was a good read, and worth my time and all...
The story of a woman who started her life as a fairly mindless sheep among the flock, and eventually came to consciousn
Oct 16, 2011 Micah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title and descriptions of this book suggest a slightly trashy, vaguely prurient look at secret Mormon rituals. It really is not that. While some Mormon ritual appears in the book, it really is about the role of women (or, more exactly, the perspective of one woman on the role of women) in a conservative Mormon culture. It is fairly well-written, despite occasional curious and quaint phrasing (such as referring to sex with a deeply disliked husband as "lovemaking"). the book is strongest in i ...more
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