When graduate student Martha Becks son Adam was born with Down syndrome, she and her husband left the chilly halls of Harvard for Utah and the warm, accepting embrace of the Mormon community. Determined to assimilate back into her childhood faith after years of atheism, Becks disenchantment resurfaced when censorship from the church heavily influenced the curriculum at Brigham Young University where she taught part-time. More disturbing was Becks eventual belief that her father, a virtual celebrity in the Mormon Church, had sexually molested her as a child.
Beck frames her narrative around a conversation with her aged father, dipping in and out of stories of her childhood, marriage, third pregnancy, and teaching. She contrasts her perceptions of the leadership of the institutional church as controlling and patriarchal with stories of the warmth and generosity of her Mormon community. Beck unfolds her search for identity, forgiveness, and a personal faith in competent prose, punctuated with surprising dark humor and glimpses into her anorexia, suicidal obsessions, and alleged abuse. Although she leaves readers with many unanswered questions after the last page is turned, one thing is clear: Beck believes that "no matter how difficult and painful it may be, nothing sounds as good to the soul as the truth." --Cindy Crosby
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From Publishers Weekly
Beck follows her bestselling spiritual memoir Expecting Adam
with this shocking accusation of sexual abuse and betrayal. The book is full of Beck's laugh-out-loud hyperbolic wit and exquisitely written insights, but it also has a hard, angry edge. She asserts that after returning to Utah in the early 1990s, she began to recall horrific memories of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her father, well-known Mormon intellectual Hugh Nibley. Although all her immediate family members vehemently deny her claims (and one has already published the positive full-length biography Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life
), some readers will find that Beck builds a compelling case. She questions the legitimacy of Nibley's prolific apologetic writing and attributes his abuse in part to the pressures he was under to defend the faith even at the expense of truthful scholarship. Although marred by shallow, formulaic anti-Mormon criticisms and an exaggerated description of the LDS Church that will sound foreign to Mormons outside the insular culture of Utah, the book also describes how institutionalized religion can do terrible wrong to some adherents while still being a force of good for others. It will devastate faithful Mormons, satisfy disenchanted ex-Mormons and offer hope to those who believe they have suffered from ecclesiastical abuse. (Mar.)
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