Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book of Mormon Girl

Joanna Brooks' The Book of Mormon Girl:  A Memoir of an American Faith, is an interesting and easy-to-read look at life growing up Mormon. 

Brooks begins her memoir with her childhood, in which she describes drawing comfort from the routine, practices, and even the rigidity of her faith.  For example, she recalls often being singled out in school and community as the only kid to drink decaffeinated beverages, or worse, labeled the anti-Christ by some Evangelicals.  But nonetheless finds solace that she has a unique and well-knit support system who shares her values.  One particularly humorous chapter, entitled "Marie Osmond's Guide to Beauty, Health & Style" (named after an actual book written by Marie Osmond), demonstrates the depth of this support system:  even as a popular American cultural icon, the Osmond's, Brooks felt, spoke directly to her and other Mormons, in subtle ways only Mormon believers would understand. 

Eventually, however, Brooks grows into adulthood and, while attending BYU, begins to wrestle with many of the social positions of the church, including its stance on the rights of women and homosexuals.  She witnesses, first-hand, the excommunication and firing of many of her female professors.  And admirably, Brooks, herself, eventually returns her diploma to BYU in protest. 

Brooks' writing is solid, even if it does wax poetic, at times.  Nonetheless, her work includes some fascinating historical points, and is appropriate for any individual who's ever struggled with faith, Mormon or otherwise.   

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