Monday, June 9, 2014

Book Review: The Book of Mormon Girl

The Book of Mormon Girl is a memoir of growing up Mormon, but as an adult having political and cultural disagreements regarding the faith that you were raised in and love deeply. It's about juggling personal feelings about topics such as feminism and gay rights with the conservative doctrine and culture of one's own religion. Really, you don't have to be Mormon to enjoy The Book of Mormon Girl, anyone who has felt like they don't quite fit into their culture or upbringing could relate to Joanna Brook's struggle as a Mormon feminist and gay ally.

This book was of particular interest to me. I'm a Mormon convert and have only been in the church for about  a year. Growing up fairly secular, I too sometimes have a hard time agreeing or understanding certain aspects of Mormon culture. I, like Joanna Brooks, am a feminist and supporter of gay rights. I'm not as vocal or entwined in those subcultures, but it is scary to me that people who don't agree wholeheartedly with the church's views of cultural and political topics can be excommunicated. This is something the author is constantly worried about as she dearly loves the Mormon church. 

The book kept my interest for the most part. The writing wasn't always super interesting and was mostly her lamenting how hard it is to be a feminist/gay activist and be Mormon and how she doesn't fit in anymore. That's the point of the book, I guess, but at times she did come off as almost whiny and a little too poetic and sentimental. I also couldn't tell who the books intended market was. Was it Mormons or non-members? I'm thinking her target audience are fellow Mormons, as many of the things she talks about in the book in regards to the church aren't explained. Non-members would be highly-confused with so little explanation of Mormon jargon and traditions. Even I, as a member, albeit a convert, found things I had to look up.

The book is relatively short and sweet and with enough time and a good attention-span (which I lack... on both counts) could probably be read in a few hours. I'm a lover of memoirs and I especially love learning about different religions and cultures so I would recommend this book to others who enjoy the same subjects. I am giving The Book of Mormon Girl 3 out of 5 stars.

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