by Martha Beck
This book is about one woman's search for truth, emotional healing and spirituality. Martha Beck grew up in the Mormon faith, the daughter of a prominent BYU scholar. Much of the book focuses on her family. They were highly intellectual- I enjoyed the many references to Shakespeare and other literary works- but also very dysfunctional. The book is organized in alternating chapters between Beck's drawn-out confrontation with her father in a hotel room, and her slow journey of discovery. Leaving the Saints is a very frank, outspoken insider's look at "Mormon culture." Having grown up in the church, a lot of her descriptions rang absolutely true to me. I laughed out loud at things like how she staved off boredom in sacrament meetings by going through the hymn book and adding the phrase "in the bathtub" to hymn titles ("Behold a Royal Army in the bathtub"). I almost flinched at how openly she described some of what goes on inside the sacred Mormon temples. In the midst of dealing with her depression and facing the sudden revelation repressed memories brought to her, Beck talks about polygamy, feminism, and the questionable origins of some LDS scripture. What shocked me the most was to read of how church authorities suppressed knowledge and heavily censored materials at BYU, where she was an instructor. This book ignited my mind with outrage, indignation and a barrage of questions. I found it rich food for thought, but at the time I read it I had already begun stepping away from my religious upbringing. I would not recommend it to any Latter-Day-Saints who want to avoid an open-minded challenge to their faith.
Rating: 4/5 ........ 306 pages, 2005
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