I read this in February but in honor of my friend Joanna being on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on August, 9, 2012, I thought I’d post this review somewhere other than on Goodreads.
Brooks’s memoir of growing up as a Mormon girl in the orange groves of Southern California is one of the most personal memoirs I’ve ever read. As a Mormon girl myself, there was much in this book I could identify with. Not growing up in a particularly religious home where Mormonism was worn as a badge proud upon our chests, I couldn’t really relate to how Brooks describes her devout childhood. However, Brooks description of her time at BYU and her faith transitions after that is something that is very close to my heart.
It felt like my heart was weeping while I read the last few chapters of this book as Brooks describes what it is like to be a liberal/feminist in a very conservative church. While she was at BYU people would leave alcohol on her doorstep because she opposed the Gulf War. They’re reasoning was that opposing the war was already an act of apostasy, so why not take it the whole way? This is a mentality that I’ve never understood. Just because we have political differences, does not mean I’m any less a member of this church. Brooks describes how hard Prop 8 was on her, being both Mormon and a Californian, and this is something I could perfectly relate to. How do you rectify your God given feelings of love and acceptance for all of God’s children with direct mandates from your church? I related to Brooks’s struggle, and her last chapter gave me a lot of hope. I refuse to give up, and so has she.
Brooks was at BYU the same time my sister was there, and they were actually friends and involved in the feminist group on campus. Because my sister has such a fondness for Brooks, and because I’ve gotten to know her through online interactions with her blog, “Ask Mormon Girl,” and we’re Facebook friends, I regarded this novel with much more warmth than I would have reading a total stranger’s memoir. Basically, I’m saying I’m already biased for Brooks, so it’s not a surprise I would love her book and give it a good review. Ignore my bias, and know that it really is a wonderful, brave book. Brooks has a lot of chutzpah living her live to publicly when Mormonism and questions about the church are on the forefront of so many minds right now.