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Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church Hardcover – March 5, 2013
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"Provides important insights into how fundamentalist movements attract and reprogram eager seekers, and the psychological effort required for survivors to adapt to life outside their reality-distortion field." -The Daily Beast
"Provides a disturbing look into the fringe group." -USA TODAY
From the Author
I will forever miss and love you, my sweet Faithy Marie, who I know I will never get to know as I deserve to, being your eldest sister. To this day, I can hear your cute little voice in my head saying "I love you, Sissy," as you hugged and kissed me before bed each night, as if it were yesterday. I wish I hadn't missed a single day of you growing up, as it was such a pleasure to watch.
Boaz Abel, you are my only brother and have the sweetest little personality, always wanting to take care of young Faithy and protect her, even when you were as young as a toddler. I remember you always running around the house, dressing up in costumes, begging me to take you to fun places, and sneaking down into my room when I was studying. I will never forget the look on your face when I came back to the house after be- ing kicked out, or that you grabbed me tightly when we both knew we wouldn't see each other again. You are such a sweet boy with tremendous potential, and I hope one day you will see that God's love is not celebrated through hate.
Taylor, you are a grown woman now, but I can honestly say I will always see you as my little sister and closest friend for six- teen years of my life. The sadness I have over our separation is beyond what words can express. The things we have been through together honestly surpass any bond I have achieved thus far in my life. I remember you sitting every day in your cute little crib always smiling at me when Mom and I came to visit you at the hospital. You have always been incredibly smart, and I remember studying in high school and college and realizing your potential was beyond mine. I wish I could have been there for you on every special occasion, birthday, and graduation to show you how proud of you I am.
I hope you do not hold regrets against me and know I will always be here if and when you are ready to pursue the real love of God and discover the love of family. I love and miss each of you.
- ASIN : 1455512427
- Publisher : Grand Central Publishing; Illustrated edition (March 5, 2013)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781455512423
- ISBN-13 : 978-1455512423
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.75 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #756,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I devoured this book in about a day. I rarely pay for audiobooks anymore, choosing, generally, to get them for free on Overdrive. But after reading "Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope" by Megan Phelps-Roper, I just had to read this book. Lauren brings kind of an outsider (non-Phelps) perspective to the WBC story. I'm glad she got away from the WBC and decided to tell her story. In comparing and contrasting her book with Megan's, I do think Megan is more likeable and sympathetic. Lauren verges on insincere at times. I believe her story. But, understandably, her story is spun from her perspective, casting her as a perpetual victim and others as villains. Her father is a villain. I don't doubt that. And Lauren is a victim. She was brought in to the church as a child. She had no say over whether she got to go there and she certainly couldn't leave before adulthood. As with Megan's family, I hope Lauren's family escapes the WBC someday and reunites with her. Her father... I think he's a pretty bad egg. He's the most alpha beta I've ever heard of. He NEEDS to be in submission to someone even as he craves power over others. I hope the day comes when he's the only remaining member of the WBC. But who knows, maybe he'll see the light someday and leave the church. Hopefully he won't latch on to another extremist group.
- It is a bit slow at times, though other parts I couldn't put it down.
- I did get frustrated at her insecurities at times, though at least she was up front and admitted them. She didn't try to rationalize them.
- I do believe that if she had never been banished, or would have been allowed back in shortly thereafter, she'd be in now and this book would never have been written. However, at this point, I do not believe she would ever go back now if the chance were presented.
- Her father... where do I start? I almost felt like he was the bigger villain than Fred Phelps himself. Her father fancied himself a lion, but was in reality nothing but a sheep subconsciously willing to latch onto any person with a stronger personality than his. He really set himself up to be a 'tool' of the church, in every intent of the term.
- Fred Phelps actually doesn't play prominently in the book, as she didn't have much direct interaction with him. She did, however, have a great deal of interaction with his daughter Shirley who pretty much runs the church anyway.
- I have to admit that I was grudgingly impressed by the church's attention to detail and internal self-discipline.
- On the flips side, it was repugnant how controlling and paranoid and hypocritical the inner circle family members are. Then again, that really shouldn't come as a surprise.
All in all, a good read, very informative, worthwhile, but not quite 5-star worthy. I give it 4 stars.
I have two minor critiques of the book. One, there were a few times in her storytelling where the described changes in someone's beliefs or behavior--especially her dad's--seems so abrupt that it's hard to believe its total veracity. Perhaps it was because of the need to shorten stories for brevity. But number two, there are a few moments of seeming inconsistencies in the book. At one point, she mentions that she actually felt she had more freedoms in the church than her previous home, but then literally a few pages later she is talking about how controlling and repressive everything was. Having said that, I'm disappointed with some of the negative reviews I've read. One person said that Lauren comes across as a whiny, boy-crazy teenager, which I did not find true at all (although her short section on the boy interests of her and her friends was the most boring). Another review expressed dismay that she is still a Christian and blasted her for not abandoning belief in God, a critique that can only come from someone who thinks Westboro speaks for all of us or that there is no fundamental difference between them and another Baptist church down the street. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
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