The Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks seems like it might target a specific audience (Mormons), but I think it actually has a much broader appeal. For one, if you’re interested in learning more about Mormon culture, the book is certainly enlightening. But more importantly, if you’ve ever questioned how you fit into the religion, culture, or tradition that you belong to then what Brooks has to say will resonate with you.
The first half of the book was a series of tales about growing up in a devout Mormon family. It was clever and hysterical, with some poignant moments. The second half of the book is more heart wrenching, and delves into how Brooks finds herself outside of mainstream Mormon culture.
I read through several reviews for this book on goodreads before I read the book itself. I was interested to find, after reading the book, that most people seem to have read their own experiences between the lines, and read more into Brooks’s story than what was actually on the page. Most people either applaud her for remaining in a church and a culture that she loves even though she doesn’t believe in the doctrine, or criticize her for remaining in a church and culture that she loves even though she doesn’t believe in the doctrine. Either way, I think it’s a good way to be pretty dismissive of everything she has to say. Because the funny thing is that Brooks never says she doesn’t believe in the doctrine. She never even implies it. Perhaps this comes from the difficulty in separating culture from doctrine, but it is an important distinction. This is a book about the culture of the Mormon church, and so she doesn’t really discuss Mormon doctrine at all. Perhaps she does question doctrine in her real life, but I wouldn’t know (well, I kind of do because I follow her blog, but that is not the point I’m making here). That wasn’t in this book.
That is actually what I think makes the read so universal. Like I said, if you’ve ever questioned how you fit into the life you grew up in, you’ll find this book really insightful. I laughed, I cried, and I had a lot of “aha” moments about my own life. I really loved this book, and I can’t recommend it enough.
I give it: