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As co-author of the best-selling In an Instant, Lee Woodruff garnered critical acclaim for the compelling chronicle of her family’s journey to recovery following her husband Bob’s roadside bomb injury in Iraq. She recently published her second book, Perfectly Imperfect: A Life in Progress. Her first novel will be published in summer 2012. At present, Woodruff lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and four children.
Some of the most compelling memoirs make their marks because they allow us access to what we know is the ugly, dysfunctional side of being in a family, no matter how brightly scrubbed and polished its exterior might be.
So when someone you know writes a memoir, there is an extra dimension of interest (full disclosure, Greenhouse is a friend). Not only do you become privy to information they might not share in a prison cell, but it’s a personal invitation to look inside someone’s psyche and under the beds where all the dirty laundry and family secrets are whispering.
Ten pages into Lucia Greenhouse’s fathermothergod, I knew that this book would deliver. It was much more than a person’s disillusionment with her religion; it was a soul-searching, sometimes jaw-dropping read about how dogmatic religion can splinter a family. And it is a beautifully written account of how one woman set out to heal after walking away from the wreckage of her childhood.
I knew very little about Christian Science, and in fact, more of the religion’s history that I wanted came later in the book. Other than the famous news items and a few horror stories I’d heard in childhood about people refusing to go to the hospital, in the sixties the Christian Scientist religion seemed to me to lurk semi-shamefully in the background, its interior rituals shrouded like today’s Scientology.
A lot of what Greenhouse has to say will, I’m sure, anger the church. And she never presents the tale as anything other than her version of events. But she writes searingly about coming of age at a time when father knew best. Raised by a dominant Christian Scientist “healer” father and a compliant mother, Greenhouse writes absorbingly about her family’s inability to take aspirin or even get eyeglasses, due to their beliefs. The reader wants to scoop her up and hug her, scold the parents for their inattention and blind devotion to doctrine at the expense of bloodlines and relationships.
Greenhouse aptly sets the stage for her life--the many moves, the well-heeled trust-fund background that presumably supports them, the private schools and lifestyle (although I found myself wanting to know more about this)--so that when her mother becomes ill and is isolated by Lucia’s father, you want to rail and weep at such unnecessary waste, the careless squandering of filial love.
What haunted me about fathermothergod long after I’d flown through the pages was the thought-provoking conundrum in which religion had bound the children. What if you didn’t speak up? What if your age, those precarious years between the teens and adulthood, made you second-guess your loyalties? What if a lifetime of parental obedience was in direct conflict with the horrors that unspooled before your eyes? Greenhouse chronicles all of this in engrossing detail and the book reverberates with honesty, regret, pain, love, and then the resilience of a person determined, in the aftermath of tragedy, to write her own life’s next chapter. I heartily recommend this read.
I was raised in Christian Science. My mother was a Practitioner, Teacher, Lecturer, writer and editor for the church. My father was a dedicated student of CS. I am class taught... Read morePublished 2 months ago by @olsonActor
This book was unbelievably bleak and depressing. That a belief insistent upon denying what is empirically evident so captivates its adherents that they watch relatives and their... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Future Green Girl
A riveting memoir that sheds light on the mysterious practices of Christian Science. I was pulled in and I couldn't put it down.Published 4 months ago by NCTFowler
There had been a Christian Science church in the very conservative town I grew up in, but it was "tucked away" and not talked about very much. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kindle Customer
As another defector from a Christian Science childhood, this book helped me feel less alone. Definitely the most emotionally powerful book I've read on getting out of Christian... Read morePublished 8 months ago by M. S. Bishop
This book helped me understand my own journey out of CS...and explore some of the fallout it has created in my own life... Read morePublished 8 months ago by L. Fortier
Super easy read of a wrenching topic; the best first hand portrayal of Christian Science (and post-Christian Science) struggles that I have ever come across. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Elle W.
I am not a Christican scientist-- raised as a Jew and a believer in science, in fact -- I nevertheless found this memoir moving and thought-provoking. Read more