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Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,058 ratings  ·  514 reviews
As featured on the BBC documentary, 'The Most Hated Family in America' it was an upbringing in many ways normal. A loving home, shared with squabbling siblings, overseen by devoted parents. Yet in other ways it was the precise opposite: a revolving door of TV camera crews and documentary makers, a world of extreme discipline, of siblings vanishing in the night.

Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by riverrun
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  3,058 ratings  ·  514 reviews

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Laura Floyd
Hi. I'm Laura from Chapter 8. This is NOT an unbiased review.

Some framework: I have the great privilege and pleasure to call Megan a beloved friend. I have been by her side - always metaphorically, sometimes literally - since the events of Chapter 8. As a person, I find Megan to be one of the most vibrant, passionate, and brave human beings I have ever met. The strength it took her to not only survive all the events of this book, but also to be the driving force behind them, takes my breath
"We behaved as if everyone in all the world were accountable to us, as if they all were steadfastly bound to obey our preaching—because we were the only ones who knew the true meaning of God’s Word. Presidents and kings, judges and governors... —all were subject to our understanding and our judgment. And all the while, we ourselves were accountable to no one..." ~Megan Phelps-Roper

The Westboro Baptist Church is notorious for their invidious messages of hate, especially towards those in the LGBTQ
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I, myself, am agnostic/non-religious, but I don't have an issue with others believing in a higher being as in this life, we need to hold dear those things that bring us comfort. The trouble really begins when a religious group turns into a cult. I first heard about Westboro Baptist Church through Louis Theroux's programme some time ago and finding it intriguing I knew when I spotted this that it was right up my street. Megan Phelps-Roper delivers a scathing attack on the indoctrination and ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is memoir 4 of my Non-fiction November memoir project.

Unfollow chronicles Megan Phelps' journey out of the Westboro Baptist Church, notorious for anti-gay protests and general awfulness. Megan shows it from the inside (her grandfather started the church) and I think anyone interested in cults or extremism will learn a lot about the tactics used to make people behave in ways that seem so unforgivable, and also to understand the keys to helping them work their way out.

As a person coming
Grace -breadandbutterbooks
As a queer person, attacked in the past by vicious homophobes, I never thought I would cry at a description of Fred Phelps's last days. But I did, I wept as this book ended. The infamous 'Gramps' was subject to the cruelty of the church he created in his final days, while sick and only semi-lucid, taken out of his home and marriage and put into a hospice, alone.

This is a memoir as much about a family as it is about a religious cult known for its GOD HATES FAGS signs. Megan Phelps-Roper is a
“God hates fags.” If you know one thing about Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, it’s that this slogan plastered their signs and was part of their armory of in-your-face chants at nationwide protests. Megan Phelps-Roper grew up in the Church, which was founded by her grandfather, Fred Phelps, and made up mostly of her extended family: Phelps had 13 children, and Phelps-Roper is one of 11. In 1989 Phelps learned that nearby Gage Park was a gay cruising spot and wrote in disgust to the ...more
Carrie Poppy
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jenna Bookish
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This post will be a little different than most on my page; I’d like to post less of a formal review and really talk more about why this book is so important to me. In terms of quality, I’ll be brief. Megan is eloquent and this subject matter of her memoir is totally riveting. Every time I had to set this book down to take care of real life felt like a chore.

But beyond being an enjoyable read, a lot of what Megan had to say feel so terribly timely. We live in truly weird times. The internet is
Ross Blocher
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Megan Phelps-Roper was born into the Westboro Baptist Church. Normally, attending a Baptist church would be nothing special - that describes some 50 million people in America - but Westboro is set apart for its reputation as (in the words of the Southern Poverty Law Center) "arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America". They're known for public protests with large, garish signs that hurl offensive zingers like "THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS", "YOU'RE GOING TO HELL", "GOD HATES ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can imagine this, Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church, is the biography the author, Megan Phelps-Roper, needed to write, but publishing it all doesn’t make for nearly as interesting of a read as it could have been. It ends when her life really starts.

The author seems very successful at putting herself back at that age in that place. And she touches many unimaginably emotionally sensitive times in her life including the legacy of physical abuse and the coup
Rating: 2.5–rounded up

Phelps-Roper’s memoir tells of a young woman’s growing up in an extreme, cult-like, and bigoted Christian-fundamentalist church, also providing some general details about how she managed to break away. The book is too long by at least a third. Phelps-Roper includes lots of text messages, plenty of tears, and an excess of scriptural passages—a reader understands quickly enough that church members’ acts were based on literal interpretation of the Bible, and he does not
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Megan Phelps-Roper is the voice we all need to hear in an increasingly polarized, angry and hateful world.

It's so much easier to think of the Westboro Baptist Church as a bunch of evil, stupid loony tunes. It's so much easier to think of a lot of people as evil, stupid loony tunes (and of course some of them are).

But by introducing her family as intelligent, loving and complex human beings (with an abhorrent and hateful worldview) *in effect if not in intent*, Megan forces me to consider that
After watching Louis Theroux's original visit to the Westboro Baptist Church over a decade ago, and his visit around 2012 (either just before or just after Megan left), I was fascinated to know how someone so embedded in a familial culture of hatred could see the light, as it were, and leave that culture behind, especially knowing that it would likely mean excommunication from the family.

So, needless to say, I am UNBELIEVABLY curious and excited to dive into this one!
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing

UNFOLLOW by Megan Phelps-Roper

This is a memoir by the granddaughter of Fred Phelps, the infamous pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church. We get a view of the emergence of the church, Megan's childhood, and her eventual leaving.

1. Wow. Just wow. Not only do I have such a huge respect for Megan, but it definitely makes me stop and remember that although many of us are sickened by the message of the WBC, that these are real people, who have been born into this
Second Verse, Same as the First:

Don't feed the damn trolls, kids.

Don't do it.

And while she spoke in vaguer terms at the end, the author's got a good message about tribalism, and a total unwillingness to "give a platform" to speech you deem as "harmful", unwillingness to debate, etc, etc.

I mean, just two days ago I was on Tumblr and- no joke!- witnessed one of the unironic, infamous instances of "Um, excuse me, I thought I should tell you that this person you're reblogging from is a Republican,
Jessica Woodbury
You know when a book involves religion that I am going to start my review with a caveat: my experience with this book was incredibly specific to my own history, brought up in a conservative patriarchal religion that I eventually left after a difficult internal struggle. It was probably the biggest thing that ever happened to me but it was an incredibly lonely and isolating experience. Even so many years later when I've had the opportunity to talk to many people with similar experiences, I don't ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
This book had me feeling things I did not expect to feel...

I remember years ago watching Louis Theroux's two documentaries about the Westboro Baptist Church. Before that, I had no idea these people even existed. Watching the documentaries for that first time, I can remember feeling uncomfortable and intensely angry, and I remember even laughing at some moments because I just couldn't believe the nonsense coming out of these people's mouths.

See, it's always been easy for me to dismiss and even
Toni Kely-Brown
I’ve always had an interest in the human construct of religion (particularly high control groups). Having really enjoyed Tara Westover’s Education (and this being compared to it), I was disappointed. Megan shares her story of being raised in the Westboro Baptist Church (one of those American fire-and-brimstone religions). She was indoctrinated from birth and sincerely believed she was spreading the truth of "God". She left the church (which meant her family and everything she ever knew) when she ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church
Author: Megan Phelps-Roper
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
Review Date: May 16, 2019

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m aware that I had had access to the book months before publication. I usually wait until closer publication time to read and review NetGalley books. But in this case, I was very interested in the book and didn’t
I was slack-jawed to realize that there was more than one way to read the text—that from one passage, multiple meanings could be deduced without contradicting the language in the original. That interpretation was a phenomenon with real implications for believers.

That quote basically summarizes why we are here today and why this book was written. Before reading this book I did not know about Megan and the Westboro Baptist Church. I decided to give this book a read because of the blurb and
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i remember megan’s story very vividly, from reading her incredible new yorker profile in the new yorker by adrian chen in 2015, which caught my memory and heart in the midst of all that was holding my fleeting attention in college. when i saw her new memoir at my bookstore recently, i knew i had to read it. i am moved by her courage in interrogating herself and beliefs and choosing her own. i devoured this on my flight to japan.

she writes about the religion and indoctrination she was raised in
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really tender and emotional memoir by a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church. By the time she was in her mid-twenties, Megan Phelps-Roper was one of the most public members of the church, and was regularly promoting their views on Twitter, gleefully arguing points of Scripture with others and throwing out insults. She believed wholeheartedly on what her grandfather taught at their church, that the Bible was absolute truth and the correct interpretation of it was one of a ...more
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-instagram
I remembered Megan Phelps-Roper from the BBC documentary, The Most Hated Family in America, so when I saw she left the church and wrote about it, I had to check it out. Although they suck, I was always fascinated with the WBC members. They weren't isolated on a compound; they lived in normal society with their kids going to public school, college, and even law school. They were educated and intellectual. It's just a different kind of story.

Unfollow is mainly the story of Megan's 24 years in
Julie Garner
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies, arc
I received an ARC of this book.
I wasn't sure what to make of this book when my sales rep placed it in my hands. I am a happily married lesbian and this person was a highly serving member of the Westboro Baptist Church who condemned me to a life in hell and prayed for my death. Did I really want to re-live that venom?
I am so very glad that I did. You know how they say, walk a mile in someone else's shoes. That is what this book did for me. Yes, I had to re-live moments in history that I would
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
As a card-carrying queer, I of course knew about Westboro; not through documentaries or twitter or thought pieces, but through posts from friends sharing news articles about people who scared them, people who hated us almost more than anything. I didn't really engage with anything further than that. I didn't know about the military funeral pickets, or the structure of the church, where it was, or anything. All I knew was they held signs that professed hatred of me and my friends and I went on ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith, arc
This is not the first (or even the second!) book that I've read by someone who left Westboro Baptist Church. One thing that I've so appreciated about these books (and about THIS book, by Megan) is how the authors are able to show the multi-dimentionality of their lives. Neither Megan nor her family members are horrible people, nor are they blameless. They are- like all of us- humans who are somewhat flawed but trying their best to do what they think is right, sometimes with horribly painful ...more
Oh, my heart. I simply adored this, and I absolutely adore Megan. Review to come.

I received an ARC from the author. Megan is a dear friend of mine, so my views might be slightly biased. Please don’t let this keep you from reading this beautiful memoir.
Jen Coombes
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: reading-women
As someone who lived in Kansas City for several years (including years that are covered in this book) and worked as a journalist, I am and was well aware of WBC. Because most media agreed to a media embargo of WBC to detract from their practices around any media is good media I was not overly aware of Megan Phelps-Roper. I also grew up in a strongly religious household and thought I might be able to find some of her story familiar and intriguing. Intriguing it is, but I could not help but feel ...more
Up until recently, my knowledge of Westboro Baptist Church (essentially the Phelps family cult) was limited to "those crazy people who picket funerals." As a practicing Baptist myself, it's common for someone to mention them when they find out my religious affiliation, which I then dismiseds as WBC isn't actually Baptist affiliated. A few years ago, I attended a military funeral where WBC protested, but instead of making me more curious it made me determined not to waste my time learning ...more
Let me preface this with one statement.

I HATE rating/reviewing memoirs. I feel like I'm rating their life and relevance. Everyone's story is important and worth being told. This rating and review are products of my own feelings, experiences, and ideas. The rating and review are not reflecting the author as a human, or downplaying her experiences and strife.

Unfollow is exactly what the title claims to be. Megan Phelps-Roper is the granddaughter of the founder of Westboro Baptist Church. A church
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“I could articulate the meanings of 'scat,' 'rimming,' and golden showers all before my eighth birthday, though I was loath to do so. To publicly accuse gays of filthy behaviors would leave a girl open to challenge -- "How do you know?" -- and thus put her in the unenviable position of having to explain that it's in a book called The Joys of Gay Sex ... which no she had not read ... but her grandfather told her about it ... during church ... from the pulpit.” 0 likes
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