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 just a few sentences. As I read I felt like I was always trying to decipher if the writer was poking fun AT me and my Mormon faith, laughing WITH me about the somewhat unusual culture of our lives as Mormons, or truly criticizing and pointing a finger of judgment at the LDS church. Sarcasm is easier to pull off in a blog format, and Ms. Brooks' tone reminded me of her more casual posts in her blog, but writing a memoir is quite different and requires more restraint and more background knowledge of the topic for a variety of readers to take hold of it. With so many seemingly "inside jokes" about her life experience as a Mormon I found myself wondering exactly what she was talking about, especially when she waxed poetic, vague, and cryptic.
The first few chapters were difficult for me to push through, especially the one where Ms. Brooks writes about her youthful infatuation with the celebrity life of Marie Osmond and a book entitled "Marie Osmond's Guide to Beauty, Health & Style". She basically just reiterated what was contained in Marie's book and how much she wanted to be just like her . . . for 20 pages!
One interesting chapter discussed the tension between the Mormons and the Born-again Christians in her community as a young woman. Speaking of a derogatory film that was widely distributed and shown to many people of other faiths called "The God Makers", Ms. Brooks says, "The God Makers even made a mockery of what happened in our Mormon temples, lampooning the choreography of promises our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents rehearsed behind closed doors. They made fun of our underwear too." Ms. Brooks doesn't go so far as to ridicule and mock the most sacred temple ceremonies but she comes close to mocking everything else as she analyzes the Mormon culture she grew up in and with which she seems to have a love/hate relationship.
I really enjoyed the middle chapters where Ms. Brooks gets more reflective and serious as she recounts a period of her life when she chose herself and her ideals over her church. This was touching and interesting to find out how she came to the decisions she did. Through the entire book I kept wondering how people not of the Mormon faith will understand, let alone view, this memoir. I think it would be very difficult to understand and access if I didn't have my own experience in the LDS culture and religion.
Through most of the book Ms. Brooks talks about how she has always been a deep question asker. Her book definitely illustrates that fact but it fails to really come together to offer any real answers except that she loves the Mormon culture because her grandmother and great grandmother gave her a symbolic pioneer hat to hang on to during trials and challenges. I hope readers who are not of the LDS faith will go to more reliable sources than Ms. Brooks to find out the doctrines and tenets of the LDS religion, especially what we believe about Jesus Christ. Look at mormon.org for a primary resource and put Ms. Brooks' book in the memoir section of your library instead of the religion group.