From Publishers Weekly
Books on atheism are red-hot this year, and Lallis adds something fresh to the mix: rather than being an angry apologetic, its an engaging personal account of non-belief. Raised in Chicago and New York to free-thinking parents who seem to have provided little supervision, Lalli had sporadic encounters with religion at her friends churches and synagogues as a child. A disastrous high school ski trip turned her off completely when religious students tried to convert her with manipulative tactics. In college, she fell in love with a fellow agnostic, whom she married after a brief stint of what she calls "living in sin." Although Lalli got along well with her Christian mother-in-law, her self-righteous sister-in-law and her husband were a different story, and much of the memoirs second half explores serious family tensions. "I got the feeling that I had to respect them for their religion but they were not going to return the favor," Lalli writes. Although Lalli doesnt come across as being quite as open-minded as she claims herself to be, she does see herself as an equal-opportunity agnostic, as skeptical about a tarot reading as she is about Christian platitudes. This memoir is well-written and often acerbically funny, an edgy quest for meaning outside the boundaries of organized religion.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School—In this appealing memoir, an art educator in New York City chronicles her journey of acceptance as she came of age in a family that refused to embrace organized religious belief. When the author was seven, she decided she would like to join a Catholic friend in making her first communion. "I wanted the white dress," Lalli admits. When she asked her parents, "What are we?" she was surprised at the answer. Her once-Catholic father responded, "We are nothing." Her mother said, "My family is Jewish, but we don't practice Judaism." Thus began the girl's quest to define her secular beliefs in a society where religion often separates rather than unites people. She tried to come to terms with the friendliness of door-to-door proselytizers. She resisted efforts to convert to Christianity at a ski weekend sponsored by a church. As a teen, she tried to come to terms with the meaning of death. Her hardest task was to gain acceptance from the sister of the boyfriend she later married. When she gained the strength to believe in the correctness of her secular views, the judgments of believers no longer bothered her. The memoir ends as the author, now the mother of two, must answer the same questions she posed to her parents as a child. Whatever readers' beliefs, they will find this search for acceptance enlightening.—Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
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