the girl can write

March 5th, 2012

About two years ago I read something on the web that I loved. I adore words, and I often admire other writing. But this was different than admiration. It was as if someone cracked open my ribcage and wrote the ache in my heart.

The piece by Joanna Brooks was called There is no Such Thing as Half, a courageous bit of outspokenness against the fractional religious classification of her children, born of a Mormon mom and Jewish dad. I read it and gushed blood, then immediately wrote a fan letter to Joanna. The similarities of our interfaith families, as all similarities, didn’t end there. It turns out she was a beloved professor to my next-door neighbor’s first-born. We both came of age on the suburban rim of the California orange groves. We shared the relative obscurity of all fledgling writers, figuring out how to woo readers, win publishers, and assemble the mythical “platform” that we’ve been told will yield access to the promised land of literary inclusion.

All I could offer her was encouragement. She went on and did everything by her pioneering self, becoming the go-to media girl for progressive Mormonism, a commentator at the frontier of politics, faith and feminism. Last month she published her memoir, and I recommend it to you here.

The Book of Mormon Girl is the story of deeply loving one’s faith, surviving its narrowness, renouncing its arrogance, and ultimately reclaiming the church. It is as smartly rendered as language can be, and it is beautifully, universally true. It gives me hope. Hope for our miscounted daughters, for our misunderstood grandmothers, and for the achingly faithful hearts, like mine, still beating and bleeding for peace, tolerance, and the seemingly lost cause of human respect. It gives me hope for our common lineage: love.

Comment on this post for a chance to win my copy of the book, to be drawn this Friday.


  1. Some of the comments on this book are deeply moving in their sincerity; I must immediately go to our excellent interlibrary loan system and read her…… thank you for bringing her writing to me.

    Comment by Mary P. — March 6, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

  2. I’ve been wondering about progressive Mormonism lately–especially from a feminist perspective. I feel like I catch glimpses of it in Terry Tempest Williams’ work, but this book will offer a different kind of more. Thank you for the information and the generosity.

    Comment by Kim Bowers — March 7, 2012 @ 7:54 am

  3. I am intrigued! Thank you for recommending good writing. I think I may recommend this for my book club when it is my turn to pick the book- we are a group of outspoken women from various economic, spiritual and political backgrounds, and we love to read about womens’ life journeys. Thank you!

    Comment by Maura Clark — March 7, 2012 @ 9:29 am

  4. My heart too aches for peace and tolerance and I try to bring about that change through love, endless, compassionate love.

    Comment by Joanne M — March 7, 2012 @ 11:57 am

  5. Any book recommended by you is one I want to read! Would love this one.

    Comment by kathleen — March 7, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

  6. when i need encouragement… a breath… i come here and always find comfort in your words xx

    Comment by Lynne Malan — March 7, 2012 @ 11:21 pm

  7. lovely.

    Comment by suzanne l. vinson — March 8, 2012 @ 4:14 am

  8. Yes please!

    Comment by Anamika — March 8, 2012 @ 6:53 am

  9. Sounds like a good read. Thanks for pointing it out 🙂

    Comment by Paul Brennan — March 9, 2012 @ 6:05 am

  10. Lady luck…..

    Comment by Marie — March 13, 2012 @ 8:42 am

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