Leaving the Saints by Martha Beck

Leaving the Saints
Martha Beck
2006, 352 pgs
Library

Book Summary from Goodreads

As “Mormon royalty” within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Martha Beck was raised in a home frequented by the Church’s high elders in an existence framed by the strictest code of conduct. As an adult, she moved to the east coast, outside of her Mormon enclave for the first time in her life. When her son was born with Down syndrome, Martha and her husband left their graduate programs at Harvard to return to Utah, where they knew the supportive Mormon community would embrace them.

But when she was hired to teach at Brigham Young University, Martha was troubled by the way the Church’s elders silenced dissidents and masked truths that contradicted its published beliefs. Most troubling of all, she was forced to face her history of sexual abuse by one of the Church’s most prominent authorities. The New York Times bestseller Leaving the Saints chronicles Martha’s decision to sever her relationship with the faith that had cradled her for so long and to confront and forgive the person who betrayed her so deeply.

Leaving the Saints offers a rare glimpse inside one of the world’s most secretive religions while telling a profoundly moving story of personal courage, survival, and the transformative power of spirituality.

My Summary

Leaving the Saints isn’t about Beck’s anger with the Mormon church. It’s about her person journey to discover what she truly believes and not what has been dictated she believe since childhood. While quite a bit of what she uncovers during her research is not complimentary to the Church she didn’t set out on this journey for that purpose.

Overall I really enjoyed the story.  The element of the book that has come under the most criticism are Beck’s repressed memories of sexual abuse.  I generally take repressed memories with a grain of salt, especially when they arrive with psychological coaching – I’ve heard of many instances where the coaching led to false memories.  In Beck’s case I do believe her.  She has scars that back up her uncovered memories and her memories came after private meditation – no coaching.  But as I said above, the abuse is only a part of the book as its part of her journey to discovering herself and faith.  I don’t think you have to believe her to find value in her journey.

The history in the book is fascinating.  I’ve read other books about the LDS (I’d recommend Jon Kraukauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven), but there were still a few things I was unaware of.  I’ll admit that I got the giggles when she’s explaining about the Egyptian papyri and several times when she quotes text from LDS doctrine.  I have no problem with people believing anything that they want to, especially if it brings them comfort, but it does make me laugh.

Beck does have a tendency to start a story and then decide she needs to give the reader more background so at times the story felt choppy and it was hard to determine where you were at in the time line.  Also, I have a pretty big vocabulary, but I wished I was reading this on my Kindle so I’d have access to the “touch a word, get the definition” awesomeness.  I’m too lazy to get a dictionary so I had to revert to best guess based on context quite a few times.

Overall a solid book. The choppiness lost a few stars but definitely worth a read.

7 out of 10 stars

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Beach reads

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.

This week’s topic is Top 10 books I’d recommend to read at the beach.  I’ll read just about anything anywhere, but these seemed most beach appropriate to me – even if some do provoke tears.  With one exception I picked all books that I’ve read this year (the exception I read last year). 

The first four book are light easy reads – perfect for the beach.

Lola and the Boy Next Door – Stephanie Perkins
Welcome to Temptation – Jennifer Crusie
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – Jennifer E. Smith
Attachments – Rainbow Rowell

These four are still easy to read, but slighly heavier.  If it bothers you to possibly cry a little at the beach these aren’t for you.  It doesn’t bother me.

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
The Garden of Happy Endings – Barbara O’Neal
The Language of Flowers – Vanessa Diffenbaugh
On the Island- Tracey Garvis-Graves

And these two I haven’t read yet.  They are being released this summer so hopefully I’ll get to read them by the pool (there’s a scarcity of beaches in Nebraska)

Where We Belong – Emily Giffen
Defiance– C.J. Redwine

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Under the Never Sky
Veronica Rossi
2012, 376 pgs
Library

Book Summary from Goodreads

WORLDS KEPT THEM APART.

DESTINY BROUGHT THEM TOGETHER.

Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she’s never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He’s searching for someone too. He’s also wild – a savage – but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other’s best hope for finding answers.

My Summary

Under the dome of Reverie, most of life experiences take place in the Relms – a virtual reality.  They live under the dome because of the Aether – which is never explained.  Aria’s mother is a scientist, living in a different Dome then Aria.  After a week of no communication with her mother, Aria does something that results in her being dropped into the outer wasteland where she believes she will die due to the Aether – again very minimal explanation.

In the Outer wasteland people live in tribes.  Some of them also have super senses – hearing (Aud), sight (Seer), or smell (Scire).  They allude that these heightened senses are from  selective breeding before the Aethers and that the Aethers accelerated the anomalies, but it’s never fully explained either.

When Aria is dropped in the outer wasteland she meets Perry.  They dislike each other on site, Aria because Perry is a “savage” and Perry because Aria is a “dweller”, but need each other to get what they both want.  Aria wants to get back into the Dome and Perry wants to get his nephew, who was kidnapped out.

I was really frustrated by this book the first third or so because so much of the world building was really vague.  What is the Aether, what caused the Aether, what exactly does the Aether do….  So much is unexplained that I found annoying. 

But there are so many elements of the book I enjoyed.  I liked Aria and Perry.  Aria handles her change in circumstances with an appropriate level of fear, but she has the courage to forge on.  Perry is tough, protective of those around him, but has a level of sensitivity that I appreciated.  I liked that Perry and Aria’s relationship wasn’t YA instalove.  Even once they got over their mutual dislike they didn’t immediate jump into togetherness – the relationship grew.

I also really liked the element of some of the Outsiders having enhanced senses – I just wish it had been more fully explained. 

Overall when I finished this book my frustration with the lack of explanation was my main focus.  It’s been about 3 weeks now since I finished it and I’m appreciating it more in hindsight – thinking about the parts of the story I do know and how much I liked Aria and Perry.  I will definitely continue reading this series.

7 out of 10 stars

Other Reviews

All the Books I Can Read

The Broke and The Bookish

You Against Me by Jenny Downham

You Against Me
Jenny Downham
2010, 413 pgs
Library

Book Summary from Goodreads

If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother’s been accused of a terrible crime and you’re the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn’t that what families do? When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie’s brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn’t do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It’s a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it’s a book about love – for one’s family and for another

My Summary

I read this a couple weeks ago and I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it.

The story is told a few chapters at a time from Mikey’s perspective and then from Ellie’s.  I spent the first couple perspective changes trying to keep an open mind and not choose sides and realized that was never going to work.  I just wasn’t going to be able to commit to the book unless I committed to thinking Tom was innocent or guilty.

So I picked a side and was able to get into the book and it wasn’t too long after choosing that the author started to give clues that I picked the right one.

I like books with flawed main characters – they are more relate-able.  Both Mikey and Ellie are flawed, but everything they do that’s wrong is an effort to try to defend family. 

Mikey feels like he failed to protect his sister so decides on revenge instead and that’s how he meets Ellie.  They connect somewhat quickly even with all the baggage between them and their relationship was believable.

The things I didn’t like about this book (in list form):

Karyn – Mikey’s sister and Tom’s accuser is barely in the book and that felt wrong.  And her switch from depressed to recovered felt WAY too quick.

Ellie’s father is a total caricature.  Totally one dimensional.

Now that I think about it – there weren’t any secondary characters that I liked.  Ellie’s mom improved a little at the end, but for the most part everyone really bugged me.

Spoilerish (highlight to read) – I’m not going to say which, but at the end of the book, either Mikey or Ellie has to stop protecting the lying sibling.  And if I were in that position I don’t think I could do it.  Ever

7 out of 10

Updating a dated desk

I purchased this desk used about 8 years ago and it’s super functional.  

I had been using my dining room as an office, but recent purchased a dining room table so the desk was moved to the former craft room that will now double as an office.  The desk has always looked ok, I don’t love the style, it’s a cherry wood laminate and I feel like cherry fights with quite a bit.   And when we moved the desk into the gray craft room HOLY COW does it clash.

After doing a bit of research on painting laminate furniture, I decided to give it a try.   For how to’s visit these sites:

DIY Kinda Girl

The Thrify House

Centsational Girl

I will say I did 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint and the Zinser Cover Stain Primer is AMAZING!  I didn’t have to sand at all.  And here it is now.

I’m so excited about how it turned out.  How awesome do the pulls look – those are the same ones they just pop against the white!

Next up I’m going to stencil the wall behind the desk.  I’m anticipating that to be a 10-15 hour project.  Wish me well.

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.

 

This weeks free week on the Top Ten meme from the Broke and the Bookish came at the perfect time.  I’ve been working on this list of Literary pet peeves for a couple weeks now because I’ve started to feel like I’m repeating myself in my reviews.  Now instead of re-explaining why books lose stars for cliffhangers I’ll just link to this post.

  1.  Cliffhangers – In my opinion book 1 should never end in a cliffhanger.  I don’t mind loose ends or not knowing all the details, but if book one ends with a major cliff hanger I feel like the author doesn’t trust their own writing to be compelling enough for me to continue reading then I don’t trust them to continue writing a story I care about.  When I think of the most successful series, the first book can stand alone if it needs too:  Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Divergent, Twilight.  Examples of books where a cliffhanger made me not want to read the sequel(s):  Uglies/Pretties, Pure
  2. Absentee Parents/Demonizing parents – Ugh.  This is worse than the YA trend of absentee parents.  I’m aware that parents aren’t always right and teenagers are figuring out who they are separate from their parents.  But I find it incredibly frustrating when books portray all the parents as selfish and uncaring. 
  3. Wilting flower heroines / controlling male love interests – Twilight, the gift that keeps on giving.
  4. Language that tries too hard
    1. Overly flowery (Purple Prose)
    2. Attempts to create futuristic teen slang
  5. Under explained dystopia – I am totally ok with leaving some elements of “how they got here” to sequels, but if the author leaves too many holes to be filled in during subsequent books I fear they won’t fill them all in and I’ll be left with questions once the series is over or that they’ll don’t know how to fill those holes and will haphazardly fill them in the final  book in a way that doesn’t make sense.
  6. The Neverending Series (here’s looking at you Gallagher Girls). – I don’t mind this in contemporary fiction when an author has a certain protagonist that they revisit because every book has an ending.  You pick up the next book to read about the next chapter in their lives.  But in the case of the Gallagher Girls I thought the first couple books were really cute and now I’m just bummed cause I read book three and was bored (been there done that) and it doesn’t seem like there’s any indication the series will ever end (or really go anywhere).
  7. Lack of punctuation – I don’t care that they did it on purpose and that there’s a reason for it.  “Evening” and “The Road” were just hard to read because of it.  I won’t read another book that does this regardless of how well reviewed it is.
  8. Paperback book size variations – This drives me crazy everytime I organize my books.  I have to choose between organizing in alphabetical order (what I would like to do) and organizing by size so my bookshelves look nice.  Why are there so many different sizes of paperback?
  9. Books written in the first person especially if they alternate perspectives – Yeah I don’t noticewhen you put the chapter narrorator’s name at the top of the chapter, so I’ll start the chapter in the mindset of the previous narrator and get confused a couple pages in and have to go back. 
  10. Movie covers on books – I think these always look really cheesy and never live up to the original cover.