Customer Reviews


49 Reviews
5 star:
 (25)
4 star:
 (11)
3 star:
 (5)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:
 (5)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate and Moving Portrayal of Sisters Today
As a woman religious, I am always looking for books and articles that portray us in the mainstream press well and accurately. "Unveiled: the hidden life of nuns" does exactly that. It is wonderful book with stirring and clear accounts of various Sisters across the U.S. Ms. Reed captures the diversity of our lives, the realities of our Congregations and the...
Published on March 24, 2004 by Mary C. Tomlinson

versus
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Author is on an ego trip--lacks understanding of Catholic sacraments and doctrine
This book is well written, and some of the sisters' stories are very moving and interesting. The author's comments are a real turnoff and invalidate the book's worth for me. As another reviewer noted, her repeated reference to the Blessed Sacrament as "crackers" trivializes and insults Catholic beliefs. Her pouting and pettiness that the IHM sisters who had remained...
Published on April 20, 2010 by olderandwiser


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate and Moving Portrayal of Sisters Today, March 24, 2004
By 
As a woman religious, I am always looking for books and articles that portray us in the mainstream press well and accurately. "Unveiled: the hidden life of nuns" does exactly that. It is wonderful book with stirring and clear accounts of various Sisters across the U.S. Ms. Reed captures the diversity of our lives, the realities of our Congregations and the challenges in our ministries with a richness and depth that is not seen in most mainstream writings about Sisters in America today.
The fact that Ms. Reed spent 5 years actually visiting and living with Sisters speaks well of her research and the clarity with which she writes. Too often, we are made fun of or talked about with some sort of mysterious "veil" of sanctity that doesn't capture us as real, very human women who have made a choice to live a life that grapples with spiritual questions, while trying to serve God's people in ways big and small. I believe that this is the journey of most people and Sisters (or nuns) are no exception.
I recommend this book for anyone who would like to have a better understanding of who we are and why we have made this choice. We are just regular women who search for the journey of life that allows us to become whole persons and contributors to the overall life of God's people.
Thanks to Ms. Reed for this wonderful book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unveiled is a Revelation, March 28, 2004
By A Customer
One doesn't have to be a Catholic or a nun to find great satisfaction and life lessons in this revealing book of a subculture of women little known or understood.
Having been raised a Catholic but currently distanced from the Church, I approached Reed's book with curiosity and a bit of trepidation. The title made me wonder what deep, dark secrets Reed would reveal. I imagined the women she profiled would be shown to be uptight, sexually-repressed creatures out of touch with our modern world. This, despite the fact that I was taught by nuns in my high school in the late '70s who were, in fact, vibrant, progressive, socially-conscious and encouraging women. Of course, my fellow students and I always wondered about the path these women had chosen, and why, but it was not our place to ask, we felt.
Reed has answered these questions, and more, in a work of great compassion and depth. Having lived with and shared the lives of more than 300 nuns over several years, she comes away with not only a greater understanding of their complex lives, but with a deeper understanding of her own spirtual life.
From the strictest cloistered nuns to the most radical feminists, Reed describes the choices they made, and why, and how they live their lives today. These women open up to Reed and reveal their daily lives, their joys, their regrets, their faith or lack of it, their frustrations with the Church and their hopes for the future. Their choices and current situations are as varied and complex as those any modern woman faces. Some nuns are passive and joined to escape the world, others to embrace it and make a difference. Some believe they can make the world better through prayer and silence, others through working with the poorest of the poor, the substance-addicted and the hopeless. Some of the nuns rebuffed Reed and what they considered an intrusion into their lives, other welcomed her with open arms.
Unveiled accomplishes a great thing: it provides a fascinating look at another culture while compelling the reader to examine his or her own life choices and spirituality more critically. It is a deeply satisfying read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Author is on an ego trip--lacks understanding of Catholic sacraments and doctrine, April 20, 2010
By 
This book is well written, and some of the sisters' stories are very moving and interesting. The author's comments are a real turnoff and invalidate the book's worth for me. As another reviewer noted, her repeated reference to the Blessed Sacrament as "crackers" trivializes and insults Catholic beliefs. Her pouting and pettiness that the IHM sisters who had remained refused to speak with her is childish and unjustified. They explained they'd just heard she was coming that morning, that they hadn't agreed to the meeting, and that she could stay overnight and leave the next morning. A big contrast to the love fest she experienced with the ex-IHM sisters in their inclusive community--so inclusive that it no longer qualifies as "Catholic" in my opinion. Still the IHM sisters weren't totally heartless. I trust Ms. Reed had a credit card and could have checked into a nice hotel and deducted it as a business expense. To treat this as "research" is a joke! Ms. Reed is really free with her opinions. She criticizes Sr. Paula for having views on married sex because sister is celibate. But Ms.Reed holds forth on options for childbirth, even though she's never given birth. What's the difference?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but a little skewed, May 13, 2006
By 
I thought this was a very interesting book, but I felt at times that I was getting more of the author's perspective on religious life than that of the nuns she interviewed. She seemed intent upon zeroing in on "scandalous" information, such as nuns' disdain for the male Catholic hierarchy, or the acceptance of lesbians into their orders. Also, her portrayal and understanding of feminism was very unscholarly and naive. At one point she writes, "In my mind, these women [nuns] are living the ultimate feminist lives--almost totally devoid of men" (xvi). She clearly has very old-fashioned ideas of what feminism is.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you see Cheryl coming... run !, June 3, 2006
By 
Unveiled: The Hidden Life of Nuns was, for the most part, interesting and enjoyable. I learned a lot about what drove women to make the vows of celibacy, obedience and poverty. It was fascinating to `hear' the sisters' perspectives such as "...the kinds of lessons the poor teach" or "You can almost get a sort of addition to religion just as people get addicted to anything else," and the belief that sharing one's spiritual quest is like kissing and telling.

But I was hoping for solid, objective journalism. Statements like, "Now the habit is her shroud of honor, a dig at fellow sisters with advanced degrees," or, "For them, religious life is more about following a list of do's and don'ts and less about achieving a personal relationship with a divine entity," were not supported and detracted from the real research in her work.

By the end of the book I felt like I was buried in detail I didn't want to know. And I grew tired of insensitive descriptions of people that included "pockmarked face," "elfish figure," and "oversized thick glasses." If I saw Cheryl Reed, I'd run for fear of what she'd put into print about me.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic, May 23, 2004
By A Customer
Nuns for centuries have been shrouded in mystery and kept on a pedestal. As the title implies, Unveiled lifts the veil of this mysterious subculture and provides an upclose and intimate look at these fascinating women. Roughly 90 percent of the book is told through the sisters themselves. It's their views, and told in their own words, on everything from their perspective on the male-dominated Catholic church to their own spirituality to the future of their orders. And yes, the sisters speak openly and candidly about their own sexuality and their weaknesses as well as the strength they derive from their orders. In other words, the women are portrayed as real women--in style akin to the work of Studs Terkel. Every chapter is a unique story unto itself. So the book can be enjoyed in pieces. Yet Reed connects the stories together by trying to answer the big question: is sisterhood still a a viable calling in today's world? I especially enjoyed the chapter about the sisters who set up their order in a drug-infested and violent neighborhood in the Twin Cities, the heart-rendering look at sisters helping poor Mexican women give birth on the Texas border, and the chapters about the mystic mother superior and the fiery Sister Traxler of Chicago. There's even a chapter about an order in Indiana that has tried to become TV hip, but then doesn't like the questions Reed asks of some of the sisters. I guess the order only wants to be designer cool. But that's ok. The diversity of the sisters is amazing and helped me understand --and appreciate --these incredible women. Unveiled is an important book, written at a time when sisters are dying and not being replaced in any great numbers. Will any sisters be around in 15 or 20 years? Yet the book offers hope in providing a glimpse into what could be a new kind of order in the last chapter. I recommend this book to both Catholics and non-Catholics because it takes readers into a world that has mostly been concealed from public view or written about mostly from the exterior. This book reflects the more difficult terrain -- the interior, what the sisters themselves think and have to say.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SO many types!, May 18, 2008
I bought this book to learn a bit more about nuns and the way they live, work and practice. I was very surprised at how much I learned about the different types out there. I had no clue. And what I had thought about a few types were not entirely right.

I would suggest this book if you want to see a number of different ways of life, all falling within the confines of being a "nun" or "sister", yet see how diverse thier ways of life are and how they live.

I will say if you have thought about wanting to live this life, it makes you want to even more, especially when you find a group that is of your same mind set and way of thinking. SOme seem more open and more public and also more "normal" or more like everyday people, they jsut do their work the same ways we do and some live fairly close to how regular people do. I am not saying nuns aren't regularly people, but they have chosen a different appraoch to life that makes them "not regular", and they live it and love it. SOme gave me a bit of the creaps that they still live the way they do, seeming a bit......archaic in their methods.

But you would have to read it to see what I mean :)

If you are contemplating this way of life or are fascinated by it - I woudl highly recommend adding this book to your required reading BEFORE you make the leap. It can give us each food for thought on how to live or view life.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unveiled: the author's prejudice, April 5, 2010
By 
Rebel Girl (Arlington, VA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns (Paperback)
I have finished reading "Unveiled" and am not particularly impressed. The author is not a Catholic and she does not even have the benefit of a good editor and it shows. In the end, it is a book that tells us more about the author than about nuns. As a Catholic, I particularly disliked her practice of referring to comunion wafers as "crackers" -- that is way too flippant and disrespectful. Her reproach of a nun who eats leftovers as part of her vow of poverty seems petulant and like a spoiled child.

To say nothing of the Spanish, which Reed clearly doesn't understand and this is where an editor could have been helpful. She refers to a nun who works in a birthing center that services low-income Hispanic women as a "pantera" -- this means "jaguar"; the correct word is "partera". Then she translates a prayer "Dios Te Salve" literally as "God save you", not recognizing these as the beginning words of the "Ave Maria", the prayer the nun is most likely reciting with the pregnant woman in distress.

All of these quirky mistakes and commentary distract from the basic intent of the work -- to demonstrate the variety of vocations to religious life in the United States today. In the end, I think the book would have been better had it been written by someone who, if not Catholic, at least has some command of the basic elements of our faith and some respect for them.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How many times can I use "fascinating" in this review?, March 2, 2005
By 
Meg Brunner (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
I'm really fascinated by nuns, despite the fact I'm not religious myself. I'm fascinated by their choices and by their so clearly-defined and purpose-driven lifestyles. So, when I saw this book on the shelf at the library, I snatched it up. Reed, a woman likewise intrigued by nun-dom (and even toying with the idea of marrying the Big JC herself), spent several years living at various convents around the country. Some of them housed habit-wearing, full-cloistered nuns who believe that flagellating themselves helped save lost souls; and some were home to denim-wearing PhDs living in the inner city and arguing about the old-fashioned and out-dated rules of the church. I hate to keep using this word over and over, but it was just fascinating how amazingly different all the convents were. I really had no idea!

Reed is an investigative reporter, so I will say this book lacked a little emotional depth -- reporters are trained to write about what they observe, not to analyze it or try to dig into their sources' psychology. But if you are interested in what differences are to be found from convent to convent or what a day in the life of a nun is like, I think you'll find this book very rewarding. Recommended!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-reported insight into the lives of Catholic nuns, September 22, 2004
By 
Tom R. Halfhill (San Francisco, California) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Author Cheryl Reed spent years researching her nonfiction book on the lives of Catholic nuns in the U.S., and her diligence shows. She visited numerous orders at convents all over the country, often living with the nuns for brief periods. As a result, her book reveals a hidden life that even most Catholics aren't aware of.

Most surprising to me was the diversity of the various orders, which enjoy a level of autonomy I didn't know existed within the tight confines of a Church steeped in centuries of tradition. To a great degree, each order sets its own rules and pursues its own goals. Of course, the Roman Catholic Church has ultimate authority over the orders, but as the author reveals, many nuns veer from the strict letter of Church doctrine, in ways both large and small. To some extent, the nuns are an engine of change with the Church. In my opinion, the Church would be healthier if it listened to them more often.

Although the author is an experienced newspaper reporter, her writing in "Unveiled" is more subjective than straight news reporting. She approaches her book from a more personal point of view. I believe her style is more suited to this subject than dry, purely objective writing. She is not afraid to include her personal reactions and feelings as she recounts her experiences with the nuns. I think she comes across as honest and forthright. She doesn't hesitate to discuss her biases and preconceptions.

Any book about religion is sure to be controversial for some readers. Yet "Unveiled" avoids sensationalism and religious prejudice to give a realistic and humanistic look at people who choose a life very different from our own. I think everyone has something to learn from this book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns
Unveiled: The Hidden Lives of Nuns by Cheryl L. Reed (Paperback - March 2, 2010)
$15.00 $13.22
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.