Rachael's Reviews > The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith

The Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks
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Sep 19, 12

bookshelves: non-fiction, religious

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 and contemplate. I think a good read is one that stays with you for a few days... or weeks. I will explain more.

The beginning was kind of fun. She writes about her life and what it was like being Mormon. I was raised Mormon, and still am happily active in the church. I could relate to much, but sometimes I would read parts here and there and think, "that isn't true for me." It sounds like she had a good childhood. I think she spent too much time obsessing about Marie, but I guess we all had things we obsessed over as teens... even now we (the human race) obsess over all sorts of people and things.

Later, when things stopped sailing smoothly I felt bad for her, but I also felt like she was playing the persecution card. Maybe that sounds terrible, and I am a little younger than she, so I didn't go through the BYU feminist excommunications. She talks about being an enemy to the church. She talks about her mentors/teachers being excommunicated... which to be honest I knew nothing about. She says she stopped going to church, but she worded it in a way where she was pushed out. She rejected her BYU diploma. She is never clear on whether she had any formal "disciplinary action", but kept a file of documents "in case"... that part of a little confusing for me. I am sad for this episode in our history. I believe in equal rights. I am also grateful for this trial. I hate that people had to (and in some cases still have to) struggle with these issues. You can't completely write off feminism or equal rights if you value your right to vote, or use birth control, or own property, etc. Society has had many hiccups/total disasters and we have had many brave people who sacrificed for our well being, for a better future. I know that this part of the review could be terribly long if I try to explain more of my own understandings. I will say this- I think we each have our own journey, and that the pure love of Christ heals all.

She says, “I am not the same kind of Mormon girl I was when I was seven, eight, or eighteen years old. . . . I am an unorthodox Mormon woman with a fierce and hungry faith. ” Well, I am not the same girl I was as a child, teenager, or even 5 years ago. None of us are the person we expected to become. We have fallen, failed, returned, denied, overcome, been crushed, pushed forward, and gotten back up. We have had harder times than we could have imagined. I too have a fierce and hungry faith. I may not always be how I want to be. I make many mistakes. I do my best to understand those around me. I am evolving and learning and praying. I love the quote from Ghandi, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. ... We need not wait to see what others do.”

My favorite part of the book was the chapter toward the end (maybe it was the 2nd to last... I can't remember and have already returned the book to the library). She speaks of hope for a better future. I loved the imagery of the table where all are welcome. How I wish we could all come to that understanding. We all carry a loneliness with us. Together and with the love of God we can overcome anything. We are all facing multiple hardships. We all want love and acceptance. I long for that future where we can love, help, and accept one another no matter what. We can love each other and disagree with one another. We can have different views and still feel connected with each other. You could hate this book, and I could kind of like it, and another could LOVE it and we can all still be friends! That was the beauty I loved in this book. That is why it got bumped up to 3 stars. God loves us all.

This memoir is not for everyone. Some will find it offensive, whether LDS (Mormon) or not. Some will wholeheartedly agree with everything on its pages. I, as usual, fall somewhere in between. I will take the good and beautiful things from its pages and use them to try to make my life more like that ideal that I hope for. And either way, I will still be your friend.

(Wow! That was longer than I meant it to be.)
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