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The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  7,022 ratings  ·  749 reviews
The acclaimed spiritual memoir from the author of The Secret Life of Bees.

I was amazed to find that I had no idea how to unfold my spiritual life in a feminine way. I was surprised and, in fact, a little terrified when I found myself in the middle of a feminist spiritual reawakening.

Sue Monk was a "conventionally religious, churchgoing woman, a traditional wife and mother"
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 20th 2002 by HarperOne (first published May 2nd 1996)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  7,022 ratings  ·  749 reviews

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Jul 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book made me start doing what I might have once referred to as "hippie shit." Recently I was at a picnic that was being held at dusk at the lake, and I wondered away from the crowd and offered up a blessing to the Goddess. I blame/thank Sue Monk Kidd for this. Got to be unafraid to seek the divine in a way that fits and feels right.
Jul 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
I found Sue Monk Kidd’s books The Mermaid Chair and The Secret Life of Bees mesmerizing and poetic. They were the type of books that you don’t want to put down, but you don’t want to end, especially, The Secret Life of Bees. It was for this reason; I thought I would love all of SMK’s books. However, I was saddened when I read The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. In the beginning, I enjoyed the book and could definitely relate to a lot of her experiences as a woman in this society and as a Christ ...more
Sep 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
On the day my daughter started Kindergarten, I had my first meeting with my spiritual director, which is mid-sabbatical for me. At the end of our meeting, she recommended this book and I drove directly to the Fuller bookstore and bought and sat in the cafe and read the prologue. And then I cried the whole drive home. This book will mess with you, especially if you are a woman who leads in the evangelical church. Read with care! I found this book to be the door into profound personal journey of f ...more
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'd like to rate this higher, because I think the topic is an important one, and the author really tries to make it accessible by telling her own story, but I had a hard time with a lot of it, and not because of the subject matter itself, but because of the way it was presented. In the introduction, Kidd says that every person who undertakes a journey to seek out the feminine divine will have her or his own unique experience, and that she only aims to tell her own individual story; but throughou ...more
Feb 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My friend lent me this book for a day and I started to read it. I was amazed after only a few pages. The woman sounded like me. Like ME! So many of the thoughts and ideas she was presenting were familiar, even in the way she articulated them. When my friend returned to collect her book the next day, I went to Barnes and Noble and bought it. I finished reading it several days later with lots of marked up bits in the margins. It was like water on parched ground to read the true journey of a woman ...more
Aug 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book chronicles Sue Monk Kidd's journey from a Southern Baptist church to a spirituality focused on what she calls The Feminine Divine. She leaves Orthodox Christianity after coming face to face with the sexism in the church and, as she sees it, in the whole Christian religion. Kidd articulates a lot of feelings and questions I myself have had as I have explored what it means to be a woman in the Church. I do not think I come to the same conclusions she does or that I will follow in her pat ...more
Sarah Bringhurst Familia
This book has been recommended to me multiple times, and I finally got around to reading it this Mother's Day.

It's definitely a book that needed to be written, and I gave it five stars because I don't know of another book that addresses this important subject as well as The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (If you do, please tell me, because I would love to read it). Kidd's description of her awakening to how male-centric her religion was really struck a chord with me. As a Mormon, I found it fas
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any woman, especially young women
Recommended to Gina by: My good friend Chris
While I hadn't given the male slant in Christianity much thought of late, (I stopped attending a traditional protestant church in my early 20's & was now attending a liberal church), reading this book reminded me why I couldn't have been born in an earlier time.
It reminded me of the stifling, oppressing man from a former relationship. Had I read this book then, I may have had the courage to end the relationship sooner.
Looking to a feminine higher power isn't a negation of a male god, it just b
Dec 16, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Lord for helping me FINISH this book.

I, of course, wanted to read this because I've been such a fan of Sue Monk Kidd's earlier nonfiction. This was the last I hadn't read and her story of religious transformation from Christianity to what she calls a worship of "the Divine Feminine."

I can say that she is very expressive, well-researched author. She was extremely through, pulling in many different sources and, as her previous non-fiction books, she did a good job of weaving informative
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent memoir. I am actually not a huge fan of Kidd's fiction, but this was a fascinating account of her transformation from Christian model daughter/wife to following Jungian principles of female gods. It's a bit out there with the rituals and ceremonies, but that is after all the point. Is it more crazy to do a drum circle than take a wafer in mass? If it is, it's only because we've normalized some crazy stories over others.
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir set me on a course of searching out more books about feminism and religion. I really liked the way Kidd lets the reader into her inner world and describes her journey, but does not become too theoretical or abstract. She keeps it real by writing about concrete experiences with specific details.
Mar 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
The following is what I wrote for the book club that had me reading The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. Beneath it, also in italics is an added paragraph..

I did finish the book but it was a hard slog to do it. I'd read a paragraph and by the end of it couldn't recall exactly what the first part of the paragraph was. I couldn't stop thinking how nice it was for her to be able to take all those trips, not only the more local retreats to her circle of trees but all over the country and abroad. I
Laura Cavanaugh
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
I've had this book on my shelf for quite a while and never felt ready to read it until now. Somehow the idea of a "sacred Feminine" and "Goddess" language felt really outside of my comfort zone, knocking against my traditional, conservative upbringing. I worried that it would be too theologically "out there" for me to relate to, but I bought it anyway because I have loved another book of Kidd's, When the Heart Waits, so much.

Although my own journey has been different than Kidd's, I found so many
Mar 19, 2014 rated it liked it
I remember the first time I didn't feel equal in a church. It may have been implicitly there all my life but the real in your face awakening happened when I went to a bible study in my early adult years. It was a "biblical truths" series contrasting what the bible says vs what the world says. The leader showed a clip of Carl's COSMOS series where he is saying something like " We are all made of star stuff, evolved over years...ect"
The leader stops the movie and says "Now I doubt any of you belie
Jan 16, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: spirituality, women
I thought I would like this book better than I did. The first couple chapters were alright as I could relate to her somewhat but then I felt like she just started swallowing whole everything that she read and chucking her entire past out the window. I just couldn't track with her anymore.
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book rocked my little world in 2004. Sue Monk Kidd had been my "spiritual mentor" for a number of years. We were both Southern Baptist, and deeply spiritual. She was a SB minister's wife; I was a SB minister's daughter. I could count on her books to "make my heart burn" with love for God. I had already entered a time of transformation--so much so that I had entered the Catholic Church two years before I read this book for the first time. But this book shattered my idealistic, still-remainin ...more
Nov 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoirs
My overarching takeaway from this book was a deep desire to never be as selfish as Sue Monk Kidd. Her whole "journey" seemed to be nothing more than deserting her faith, her husband (initially), and her responsibilities in order to take multiple retreats and find her "inner Divine Feminine". The tone of the book is overly introspective and sickeningly self-centered.

The "Divine Feminine" that she creates (she would say "finds") is a god made in her image. She found what she wanted to find: a "god
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Rarely do I not finish a book, but after reading (okay, reading may not be the exact word for what I did - "plowing through" would be more accurate) over three quarters of it, I finally put the book down for good.

I really wanted to add this one to my shelf of feminist essays, memoirs and non-fiction that I love because the subject is important, but this one just didn’t speak to me and here is why:

This is Monk Kidd’s telling of her feminist spiritual awakening (so far so good) and how she had to
Hillary Hunt
Jan 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An emotional and thought provoking read for any woman raised in a partiarchal religious tradition. I'm not Baptist, I was raised Mormon, but could relate to everything she was saying. She nails it. And then she explains how she learned to heal, and how she found her own form of spirituality that didn't wound her femininity. Probably one of the most powerful books I've read for me personally. Admittedly, the second half of the book gets a bit woo-woo, but that to me is not the important part. The ...more
Aug 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011, memoir
Part memoir, part feminist semi-Christian theology, this book is author Sue Monk Kidd's narrative of her personal struggle with rampant sexism in her longtime Christian faith, sprinkled with a hefty dose of psychoanalysis. I really enjoyed the personal narrative aspect of the book, and applaud Kidd for her bravery in speaking out against patriarchal oppression of women of faith. That said, the book was disappointing to me on several fronts. It relies heavily on a handful of scholarly resources. ...more
May 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Gofita by: Hillary
This a life-altering and mind-altering book! I absolutely loved it!
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating book. My pastor loaned her copy to me, but I'm going to order my own if for no other reason than having the bibliography available! I also need to order some to give away to friends.

The books sub-title really says it in a nutshell. Sue Monk Kidd grew up in the Southern Baptist church, and married a SB minister. At some point, she became frustrated with the patriarchal assumptions that dominated the SBs and other mainline churches. She began exploring spirituality, with a f
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'm remembering how much I love feminist literature lately, and this book was an excellent addition to my already-sagging "feminist books" shelf. Sue Monk Kidd provides a critique of the patriarchal culture of the Christian church, and delves into how she feels it's let women down. Then she writes about her quest to find the feminine divine in her world, including how the quest impacted her marriage. This is one of the few books I have that I won't be loaning out as I have notes in the margins a ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoy reading about others' spiritual journeys; however similar to or different from mine they are, I always seem to come away with a deeper understanding of and respect for other spiritual paths. I don't believe that there is one single “right” journey that every single person “must” experience in order to commune with God. God created us as diverse individuals and I believe that God deals with us as individuals. In Dance of the Dissident Daughter, we are treated to Ms. Kidd's chronicling of ...more
Lara Torgesen
Jan 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
My sister sent me this book, and said she was reading it as well. I've read Sue Monk Kidd's "The Secret Life of Bees" and "The Mermaid Chair," but I had no idea that she was a Christian writer in a previous life. An incident that happened to her daughter in a drugstore led to a re-examination of Kidd's life within a patriarchal marriage, religion, and culture. She describes her spiritual journey leading to her discovery of the sacred feminine. It was an interesting book, and I found that I have ...more
Jul 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Best selling author (“The Secret Life of Bees”) Sue Monk Kidd was born into a conservative Christian family and married a conservative Christian minister. For years, she wrote inspirational Christian books. What, then, made her decide to step away from church teachings regarding the place of women and embark on a journey to find the sacred feminine?

Kidd had long been uncomfortable with how her gender was treated, both in society and in her church. Told repeatedly that woman was to serve man bec
Mar 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
My friend, Tina, was reading another title by this author, and I looked for that book, but found this one instead. Wow. The story of this journey from Christian Tradition to Sacred Feminism casts a lot of light on my own journey from growing up in a tradition where we said 'no' to a lot of things and in a culture that upholds patriarchy to knowing and valuing my feminine side and gifts. I'm especially nurtured by Kidd's re-telling and working with the myth of the Minotaur and the labyrinth and a ...more
Jan 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Having very much enjoyed Sue Monk Kidd's fiction ("The Secret Life of Bees", "The Mermaid Chair", etc.) I was quite intrigued by the subtitle, "A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine", particularly when I realized this is not fiction, but the author's own personal journey. And it is a courageous one! She shares with us each step of the way, her personal doubts, the challenges she had to overcome, the risks she took along the way - her reputation, her ...more
Dec 09, 2008 rated it really liked it

Read this book after finishing Secret Life of Bees for the second time. I love all the references to other books and articles. I read them while reading this... so it took me awhile. Fascinating!
This is the story of Monk-Kidd's personal struggle with her Christianity. I'd say it was a feminist critique of Christianity, but "feminist" is too culturally loaded, and "critique" sounds so academic as to be deadly. She looks at mythology -- and I include Christianity in this genre here -- from all ov
Morgan Taylor
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
There was so much that resonated with me in the first half of this book. She voiced a lot of my spiritual experiences and pains. I so appreciated that validation. The second half was about her spiritual journey, which naturally is very individual and I had a hard time getting through it. But it makes me excited to continue my own journey of discovering how I can regularly connect with the divine feminine.
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SUE MONK KIDD was raised in the small town of Sylvester, Georgia. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 1970 and later took creative writing courses at Emory University, as well as studying at Sewanee, Bread Loaf, and other writers’ conferences. In her forties, Kidd turned her attention to writing fiction, winning the South Carolina Fellowship in Literature and the 1996 Poets & Writers

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“The truth is, in order to heal we need to tell our stories and have them witnessed...The story itself becomes a vessel that holds us up, that sustains, that allows us to order our jumbled experiences into meaning.
As I told my stories of fear, awakening, struggle, and transformation and had them received, heard, and validated by other women, I found healing.
I also needed to hear other women's stories in order to see and embrace my own. Sometimes another woman's story becomes a mirror that shows me a self I haven't seen before. When I listen to her tell it, her experience quickens and clarifies my own. Her questions rouse mine. Her conflicts illumine my conflicts. Her resolutions call forth my hope. Her strengths summon my strengths. All of this can happen even when our stories and our lives are very different.”
“The symbol of Goddess gives us permission. She teaches us to embrace the holiness of every natural, ordinary, sensual dying moment. Patriarchy may try to negate body and flee earth with its constant heartbeat of death, but Goddess forces us back to embrace them, to take our human life in our arms and clasp it for the divine life it is - the nice, sanitary, harmonious moment as well as the painful, dark, splintered ones.

If such a consciousness truly is set loose in the world, nothing will be the same. It will free us to be in a sacred body, on a sacred planet, in sacred communion with all of it. It will infect the universe with holiness. We will discover the Divine deep within the earth and the cells of our bodies, and we will lover her there with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds.”
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