THIS BOOK LEFT ME GASPING
The way of life revealed to me by Mormon Bitch captured me as if I’d been Alice put down the rabbit hole and just left a’tumbling. I simply was not prepared to confront a religious microcosm so foreign or different from my own life experiences. And this is the issue that I’m facing now in trying to fashion a comprehensive review of this excellent autobiographical novel. The experience was overwhelming, in that I am left without appropriate descriptive words. As I read about Mollie’s understanding of what heretofore to me had been pretty much straightforward Christian concepts, I grew to be disoriented. I’m now confident that this was the purpose of this expertly crafted piece of literature: to show a world so starkly removed from conventional Christianity in so many fundamental ways that there can be no doubt that her arguments with both of them are valid.
This is how the book made me feel.
It reached out and grabbed my brain, scrambled it, and put it back in place still reeling.
Little Miss Mollie Mormon is a beautiful, charming, precocious child. She longs to learn everything there is to know about everything. Her limitless curiosity begins to be rewarded almost as soon as she can talk. But her unwillingness to accept cookie cutter answers to even her least demanding questions frustrates her beyond her own understanding. This leaves her striving to be the perfect Mormon daughter, even as she is less than certain she wants to be one.
My first impression of Mollie was that she was absolutely not created to survive the rule-bound Mormon community into which she was born. She does everything right that she can, yet she still longs for a more clear understanding of what’s going on in her Church, and for things she can do that simply “make more sense” to her. Things that happen outside the “Mormon Bubble” in which she lives; things that leave her puzzled and thinking. But everything seems to have an ironical side, and eventually her last great hope is to make it to BYU, the Lord’s University. She is certain that once there the answer to life’s riddles will reveal themselves. She will find Mr. Right, a returned missionary that wants her, marry him in the temple, and start making babies—having resolved deep down inside that this is all that really matters in life.
This point in the story transitions Book One into Book Two—a kind of damn-the-college-education-full-speed-into-Heaven experience. Now, having read about “Illusions of Hope,” I can hardly wait to read “Disillusionment,” the next installment.
BJ Bennett: Sculptor, Medical Nurse, Psychiatric Nurse, Pastor, Youth Pastor, teacher, T.V. Puppeteer, Activities Director, Silk Screen Artist, Upholsterer, Seamstress
ABUNDANT ALLUSIONS, RICH METAPHORS, AND SOME GREAT QUIPS
Mollie Stewart paints a vivid portrait of what it’s like to be raised in a home and organization steeped in the idea that a perfect world exists—which can only be entered by a life-long pursuit of perfect obedience to the rules on the entrance exam. The world is nebulous, exact details of the entrance exam are understood by few—yet expertise in them is professed by many—adding to the confusion!; but the desire to enter is inculcated so strongly that the most desiring of participants will give up anything and everything to attain it—come hell or high water. Oft-times without even realizing what it is they have traded for the mere option—not even the full commodity.
With abundant allusions, rich metaphors, and some great quips, Mollie adeptly describes the near insanity that this wild goose chase has her teetering over time and again—beginning from her very earliest age of memories as a child on through her journey into young adulthood. Many of the conversations, experiences, and epiphanies of faith that contorted her understanding of life and drew her into the “Mormon Bubble” way of thinking will unfortunately be far too familiar to many, if not most, post-Mormon readers. It may very well dredge up bad memories, bad feelings, and resentment towards a formerly-familiar way of thinking—but as Mollie sprinkles in an occasional rant to help her through her own telling of her story, it’s often just in time to help the reader vent in kind.
Mormon Bitch: Illusions of Hope stops midway through her perilous journey—right before she leaves the nest—at a time when her mind has been beaten so hard into a Gordian knot by subtle processes, blunt hammering, and the constant droning (sometimes a splinter) in the back of her mind of a desire to understand the conundrums and obey everything perfectly to reach her goals in the face of a real world that she has barely been exposed to that a severe unraveling is no longer merely foreshadowed, but outright declared as coming. I look forward to reading the sequels and following her down the rabbit hole to see how she emerges on the other side.
For any recently-become post-Mormons, reading this book could be therapeutic—as Mollie will touch close to home, and help you realize that indeed, no, it’s not just you: others have experienced the same (possibly worse!), and that it’s definitely not you that are crazy.
Nicholas Leippe, Utah