I was all set to get all excited about TDS having a blogger on, when I saw that she's got a book out. True, it's an update-and-rerelease of a self-published ebook, but still. Also, Joanna Brooks has all sorts of academic-and-writing credits and seems to be a go-to source for (all? Many?) things Mormon (or at least all things Mormon Feminist, I guess). Plus, Politico has her as one of their 'top 50 politicos to watch' (as of 7/28/11), right up there as @askmormongirl with @KagroX and @fredthompson as a 'top tweeter'.
Anyway, the site is askmormongirl.com, and the book is The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith. Here's the description:
From her days of feeling like “a root beer among the Cokes”—Coca-Cola being a forbidden fruit for Mormon girls like her—Joanna Brooks always understood that being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints set her apart from others. But, in her eyes, that made her special; the devout LDS home she grew up in was filled with love, spirituality, and an emphasis on service. With Marie Osmond as her celebrity role model and plenty of Sunday School teachers to fill in the rest of the details, Joanna felt warmly embraced by the community that was such an integral part of her family. But as she grew older, Joanna began to wrestle with some tenets of her religion, including the Church’s stance on women’s rights and homosexuality. In 1993, when the Church excommunicated a group of feminists for speaking out about an LDS controversy, Joanna found herself searching for a way to live by the leadings of her heart and the faith she loved.
Reviews in the usual places (and an assortment of easily googleable online/Utah-locale papers , as well as a mention in next weeks New Yorker). Here's a bit from Kirkus:
The Book of Mormon Girl is a story about leaving behind the innocence of childhood belief and embracing the complications and heartbreaks that come to every adult life of faith. Joanna’s journey through her faith explores a side of the religion that is rarely put on display: its humanity, its tenderness, its humor, its internal struggles. In Joanna’s hands, the everyday experience of being a Mormon—without polygamy, without fundamentalism—unfolds in fascinating detail. With its revelations about a faith so often misunderstood and characterized by secrecy, The Book of Mormon Girl is a welcome advocate and necessary guide.
A scholar of religion and culture struggles to integrate her strong religious beliefs with a deepening awareness of social injustice.
Brooks (American Lazarus: Religion and the Rise of African-American and Native American Literatures, 2003, etc.) evokes the close-knit joys and apocalyptic fears of growing up within the Mormon Church during the 1970s and ’80s..While the author also emphasizes the positive aspects of Mormonism, especially the industrious goodwill fostered by a long line of pioneer ancestors, she excels at portraying the complexities of doubt in the midst of faith...Feeling empty and patronized, she experienced disillusionment with the traditional Mormon view of sexuality but found refuge in the teachings of feminist professors at Brigham Young University. In the early ’90s, however, the church began a crackdown on dissidents, and several of these professors resigned; Brooks returned her BYU diploma in protest. She describes the decade after graduation as a time of exile when she felt estranged from her faith yet also worked toward a doctorate degree, married a Jewish man, and gave birth to two daughters. Eventually making her way back to the church on her own terms, she declares herself “an unorthodox Mormon woman with a fierce and hungry faith.”
This well-crafted examination of spiritual longing shows how one woman has carved out a niche inside the religion she loves despite its contradictions.