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I'm Perfect, You're Doomed: Tales from a Jehovah's Witness Upbringing Hardcover – March 3, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
When Abrahams was growing up, her world was neatly divided between those who would live forever in a paradise on earth and all the "worldly" people her Jehovah's Witness family prayed for. Her congregation forbade Christmas and Halloween, aggressively shunned anyone who left the fold and taught children that birthday parties were of the devil. For kicks in her early teens, Abrahams would go witnessing door-to-door with her pal Lisa, a die-hard J-Dub. This acerbic, witty memoir chronicles the first 23 years of Abraham's life with candor and a good dose of comedy. Unlike other memoirs written by the disenchanted, Abrahams musters some affection for her decent but screwed-up family, and even for the religion itself. Where the story hits a rough patch is in her account of her late teens and early 20s, when she dropped out of high school; rushed into a disastrous teen marriage; fell into alcohol, drugs and adultery; and finally "fired Jehovah as [her] personal bodyguard" and became an apostate divorcée. None of this is particularly funny, and Abrahams's tale of self-destruction ends abruptly enough that readers will wonder how she managed to pull herself together. (Mar. 3)
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*Starred Review* Given that Abrahams is now a stand-up comic and spoken-word poet, it makes perfect sense to begin her very funny memoir with her performance debut at the Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Kingdom Hall, at age 8 (her presentation was about freedom from demon possession). She describes the children’s books she read as a child as a cross between “Dr. Seuss rhymes and tales of how sinners would scream and gnash their teeth at Armageddon.” In her world, Smurfs were “little blue demons” and yard sales were enticements from Satan. As a bored teenager with OCD, she didn’t know what to do with herself or how to make sense of the world. On the verge of 18, she married a 24-year-old part-time college math teacher because, even if his interest in her was, at best, halfhearted, she wanted a boyfriend and didn’t know any other Jehovah’s Witnesses who liked her. Anyway, she reasons, “this is what adults did, and I was an adult.” It wasn’t long before she longed to be out of the marriage. Between threats of suicide, she tried to be “disfellowshipped,” or shunned, by her congregation, which proved surprisingly difficult to accomplish. Abrahams is a natural writer whose prose flows effortlessly as she easily mixes throwaway humor and painful memories in a compelling narrative. --June Sawyers
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Top customer reviews
So often JWs leave this particular cult to join more mainstream versions of Christianity. I have no problem with someone being a christian on a personal level, I just rarely hear my story told in the literature critical of The Watchtower Organization. It's not explicit that she is, like myself, an atheist necessarily but she doesn't move from one organization to another, larger organization that teaches you what and how to think. She just moves on with her life, deals with the shunning and the lack of support with honesty and integrity. She's just an imperfect human trying to struggle and survive and make mistakes and learn and that's all any of us are. It's also very funny in parts. Sorry for the slipshod review, I don't wish to turn this into my life story. Everyone should give this a read, whether familiar with controlling fundamentalist communities or not.
I think the religion is a full blown cult and have no doubts that if word came from Brooklyn (JW headquarters - as far as i know) that everyone was supposed to drink cyanide, the most deeply entrenched (my siblings and mother) would be the first in line. I doubt this would ever happen because that would be the end of the giant cash cow. However what I think the organization passes down to the more or less innocent (but mentally lazy) members is every bit as dangerous. And as Ms Abrahams notes many have died because of the religious policies, many of which have been reversed in later years. Even more subtle and much worse than that is the absolute mind control. Which again the author illustrates through the bible 'study' and the religious services. Not many people would consider underlining text and repeating verbatim in response to programmed questions 'study'. (Her anecdotes of someone actually daring to say something original during a service are hysterical.), nor is the prohibition of reading anything other than JW material very useful in developing critical minds.
So as many reviewers have noted, the author reveals the underside of the religion but not through anger and spite, but through humor and a kind of resignation and more importantly with the attitude that she is solely responsible for the direction her life takes as an adult and she has clearly taken charge and gotten on with it.
You can't remain bitter and damaged by things that were out of your control, being raised a JW for example. The best way to deal with it is through laughter and understanding. This book is about that.
I would read it again just for the so so so many really amusing parts. :D
Having been sheltered to a painful degree, she goes through a very hard learning experience Most people do not have to. It's easy to judge and see all the mistakes she made but it's a lot harder to understand why she made those mistakes and acting so stupidly. As someone who has gone through the same thing, I understand completely where she was at and how she was making those mistakes. Your world perceptions are so flawed and skewed by this religion that you simply have no idea of the way the world works, practicality or even logic in general.
I would've liked to have received a little more information at the end of the book. By the end of the book, you are heavily invested in the authors life story and it would've been nice to know where she was at in her life when she finally finished this book. Bravo on revealing so much and opening your story up to strangers. This reading has been like a therapy session for some of the issues I'm still dealing with from my recent parting with this religion and, unfortunately, my family/friends. Like you, I have new friends and family that are loving and accepting, more so than my relatives ever were.