History, Kamara-Mariatu, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Social Commentary

#998 The Bite of Mango by Mariatu Kamara

#998 The Bite of Mango by Mariatu Kamara was originally published on One-elevenbooks

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Memoir, Non-Fiction, Robertson-Judy

#993 Out of Mormonism by Judy Robertson

Out of Mormonism by Judy RobertsonOut of Mormonism by Judy Robertson

In this book Judy tells of her family’s experience joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, then leaving the church to start the Concerned Christians Ministry.

What I liked

I liked that this was at least a half-memoir.

What I didn’t like

I read this book because it was fairly short and because I thought Judy was going to have this interesting story. I thought she was going to tell this train-wreck of a story about how awful her life in Mormonism was. She didn’t. Half of this book is basically a commercial for Concerned Christians, not concerned Christians in general, the group  called Concerned Christians.

I know a lot of Mormons. Are there awful things that can happen in the church? You betcha. Are there things that need to be stopped? You betcha. Can it be weird to members of other churches? You betcha. Is it Satanic? No. Judy’s group actually claims that a church, about Jesus, and God, and going to heaven, and seeing your family as important, is Satanic. I kind of get the cult claim, kind of, but Satanic?

I want to roll my eyes so hard that they’d roll to the back of my head.

Look, if you don’t want to be a Mormon, don’t be a Mormon. It’s that simple. If you’re not a Mormon and someone asks you to consider joining the church, you can politely decline them. If you’re already a Mormon and you want to quit being a Mormon, quit. I actually believe there’s a website to that tune.

I’ve encountered some religious people who have put a very bad taste in my mouth for their whole religion, but did I go out and start an organization that had the  sole purpose to publish material against their church? Nope, I did not, and you know what, a lot of people don’t do that. People are supposed to be able to worship however they want to in the United States as long as they’re not breaking laws. You want to worship a giant bagel? Go right ahead. May you find peace in your worship of the great Bagel. In the name of Cream Cheesus, Amen.

Judy does bring up some very valid points sometimes. Have spouses who have a spouse who left the LDS church been counseled to get divorces? Heck yes, should it have happened? Probably not. Should it still happen? Probably not. Even so, that’s not a reason to widely distribute information labeling people who are just trying to be closer to God as Satanists. I get being angry about this, but sometimes anger taken to an extreme, where you’re actively and vehemently proselytizing against the thing you’re angry at, can make you look like a woo-woo fruit loop.

Overall

I get being angry. I don’t get how extreme it became.

Weigh In

If you belonged to a religion that was a little strange to a lot of people and then you left because you disagreed with something, would you start a very vocal group to oppose this religion or would you just go on with your life and chalk the whole thing up as a learning experience?

Is the story cheapened by Judy’s promotion of her organization?

#993 Out of Mormonism by Judy Robertson was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Memoir, Non-Fiction, Social Commentary

#982 What If… by Shirley MacLaine

What If... by Shirley MacLaineWhat If… by Shirley MacLaine

Shirley likes to ask questions about life. What if this and what if that? She sees the world as possibly a play in which we are the actors. Who are we putting the show on for? Maybe aliens? Maybe ourselves. What if we acted this way? What if we treated each other in this manner? What if war was just for profit? Shirley has a whole lot of questions about life.

What I liked

I do not know a whole lot about Shirley. I read this book anyway. It’s a short book of Shirley’s questions about life and her thoughts on a few things. I like that Shirley is one of those people who are open-minded, meaning, that she doesn’t necessarily take things at face value. Maybe there is something more to this question or this aspect of life and it’s completely different from what we ever expected.

My ex took “open-minded” to mean doing drugs. For real, when I told him he needed to be more open-minded about things in life, he said, “So I should do drugs?” I’m not really sure where that  comes into play. I guess in a way being open-minded could mean doing drugs and being open to whatever you may or may not experience while doing drugs, but I look at the phrase “open-minded” to mean that you question things before you. Is this really the way things are or are we looking at this entirely wrong? That’s how we should be at life. Always consider that things may not be the way you think they are. Shirley is very good at this, I think.

What I didn’t like

Some of this is a little too “woo” for me. Are we the only life in the universe? Probably not. It’s self-centered to believe that we are. There’s an entire universe out there. We cannot assume there isn’t bacteria, fungus, animals, or other thinking beings somewhere out there in the vastness of space. Do I believe there are little green men flying around? How about people getting abducted by aliens? I don’t really have evidence to get behind any of that. On the other hand, I don’t have evidence not to get behind any of that. I’m adult enough to admit that I don’t have all the answers to everything, but I’m leaning towards a “No” on the little green men.

Shirley seems to believe these things. It’s her life and she can believe whatever she wants to, but it’s just a little too strange for me.

Overall

Shirley, I also have a lot of questions about life.

Weigh In

What is a question about life that you don’t have the answer to?

Do you ever think about all the questions you don’t have answers to?

#982 What If… by Shirley MacLaine was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Jamison-Dirk, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Social Commentary

#980 Perishable by Dirk Jamison

Perishable by Dirk JamisonPerishable by Dirk Jamison

Dirk had a difficult and non-traditional growing up experience. His family first lived in one area, where his father was a construction worker, who frequently got fired. Then they moved to Mammoth, California where his father decided to dumpster dive for their food, literally. He even made the kids go along. Why buy food from the store when people were throwing it out?

Their mother didn’t like it. Dirk’s sister was as mean as a snake, constantly doing awful things to Dirk. Their father didn’t set a good example, leading by example by kicking the family dog for biting someone when she was pregnant(the dog was pregnant), and also telling the kids that the dog had cancer. Their father sold their house right out from under them and would up and leave multiple times throughout the marriage.

Their mother finally moved the family to Oregon to be near her Mormon family where Dirk received some structure in his life, but the shadow of his father was always there. His parents got divorced, for the third time it seemed, and Dirk went on with life. His father moved to California.

What I liked

I liked this book as a memoir and I feel like the story was told well.

What I didn’t like

Good Lord this is sad. Look, if someone doesn’t have enough money and lives on the streets, eating out of the dumpster is one thing, probably a necessary thing, but if someone had the ability to work, but they were just too lazy to work and they’re going dumpster diving to feed their family, that’s wrong. The family deserves better, plus there are people less fortunate than this person, by way of not being able to get a job that need that food the grocery store just threw out.

Why the Hell would you kick a pregnant dog?

What in the world was wrong with Dirk’s mother that she didn’t get her children out of this mess. I can point at depression and low self-esteem right off the bat, but sometimes you got to woman up and do what you have to do, which includes getting any children you might have out of a crappy situation. I can see that the situation was mentally abusive, Dirk’s mother was also a victim of this, which is probably why she let her husband make all the decisions and just went along with it, but it doesn’t help that she was probably taught, growing up, as a Mormon woman, to let the man of the house have the final say. I feel bad for everyone involved in this situation.

Overall

If you’re in an abusive relationship, get out, especially if you have kids, end of story.

Weigh In

If you were in Dirk’s mother’s position, could you have left with your children?

Do you think you would have gotten into a relationship with someone like Dirk’s father in the first place?

#980 Perishable by Dirk Jamison was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Memoir, Non-Fiction

#977 Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher

Shockaholic by Carrie FisherShockaholic by Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher was depressed for a large part of her life. She tried lots of medications, both prescribed and illicit. When none of it seemed to work, Carrie decided to try ECT, or shock therapy as most people know it. What Carrie found is that it seemed to work quite well, but that she didn’t remember a lot of things. She might forget meeting you. She might forget a memory.

Carrie remembers her mother and the relationship her mother had with her father as well as her second husband in this book. One guy was a womanizer and one guy was a womanizer in a different way, but not particularly a bad person. Her father hopped from woman to woman, including Elizabeth Taylor in that line of women, so, for a bit, Elizabeth Taylor was Carrie Fisher’s step-mother, not that a whole lot of mothering went on.

Drugs and Carrie made friends, while Carrie and her father got closer when she was an adult. This was between all the drinking and drugs, but sometimes Carrie and her dad did drugs together. During her treatment, Carrie kept going back for shock therapy and it seemed to work for a while. Ultimately, some people in Carrie’s life died and she was sad about it, but she kept on moving forward.

What I liked

Carrie was funny. She poked fun at herself and the unfortunate things in life, and even if bad things had happened in her life, she made a way to laugh about it. She laughed about things that most of us wouldn’t think are funny, but really, sometimes you laugh because there’s nothing else you can do.

I really liked learning more about Carrie’s life. I had no clue she was such good friends with Michael Jackson, another person who died way too young amidst much speculation.

Carrie’s account of her ECT treatment was probably the first positive experience with ECT that I’ve read about. I was actually really surprised to read that it helped her. Most people have complained about it not really working and just erasing part of their memories.

What I didn’t like

Again, here’s the thing–Carrie Fisher had more opportunities than most of us will ever dream of, but that didn’t stop mental illness from working its crappy grasp on her. You would think someone with millions of dollars and the celebrity of Carrie Fisher could afford the best psychologists and the best medications for her condition being able to live successfully with her mental illness without having it affect large parts of her life. As is, Carrie turned to drugs and alcohol in addition to mental health treatment and she still had problems. Doesn’t that just suck? Doesn’t it just suck to know that there’s not really any effective way, no matter how rich you may become, to deal with a mental illness in such a matter that it doesn’t hugely affect your life?

While this may not necessarily be a good thing–I’m kind of glad that Carrie found some relief from her mental illness in drugs and alcohol, at least it was a break, although not the correct way to deal with mental illness at all. I can’t blame Carrie for trying though. I really can’t. If there was some illicit substance that made my autoimmune diseases more bearable, I might just be a drug addict or alcoholic myself. It is not easy having to live with a chronic condition, no matter what that condition may be whether mental or physical.

Overall

If only we could shock away our problems…sigh.

Weigh In

Would you do shock therapy if it was guaranteed to help with an issue you have?

Are celebrities that are more relateable due to mental health or chronic health conditions inherently more admirable than a celebrity who doesn’t have those issues?

#977 Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Memoir, Non-Fiction

#974 Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Wishful Drinking by Carrie FisherWishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher grew up in a world full of celebrities. Her mother and father were on the television and it was hard to distinguish the silver screen from real life. In fact, Carrie feels like real life and fictional life became fluid for her. She grew up and then she was in Star Wars, then her face was everywhere. To cope with real life versus fictional life Carrie turned to alcohol and drugs. This drug, that drug, alcohol–rinse, repeat–Carrie landed herself in rehab several times. She also found out that she was bi-polar. The drugs and alcohol helped mask her symptoms, but when the drugs and alcohol went away, Carrie had to learn how to deal with being bi-polar in her real/fictional life around real people who didn’t quite know how to deal with mental illness. It did help that she had some supportive friends and a great mother.

What I liked

I’ve been tempted to read this book for a while and I’m glad I did. I liked Carrie’s no-nonsense and somewhat comical approach to mental illness. Some things you can’t change, no matter how hard you try, so you might as well get a laugh out of it.

I think Carrie would have been a fun person to hang around. It’s sad that she’s gone. Maybe she’s haunting nerds in her Princess Leia outfit and having a good laugh about it. If I were a ghost, I’d do things just for laughs. I feel like Carrie did do a lot by stepping out into the limelight and talking about mental illness. A lot of us have mental illnesses and we have probably all experienced some type of shunning due to the fact that we have mental illnesses.

What I didn’t like

Carrie had a lot of great opportunities and she was still depressed. It’s defeating to know that you can’t get away from depression even if you do have almost any opportunity you could wish for in life. There are a whole lot of us as young women who were never offered roles in Star Wars, or any other movie, and we never got to hang out with a young Harrison Ford, but we still have to deal with our depression, or whatever, all while having to live lives of no fame, without a lot of money, and facing the back-breaking and exhausting task of trying to be a normal person with a mental illness.

Overall

Let’s pour some out for Princess Leia–maybe just some sparkling water though.

Weigh In

Do you admire Carrie Fisher?

Is there someone else that has spoken out about mental illness that you admire?

#974 Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Memoir, Non-Fiction

#973 Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks

Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna BrooksBook of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks

Joanna Brooks grew up in the world of Mormonism, in California, which is different from growing up as a Mormon in Utah. While Joanna loved her growing up experience, she has found that she did not have a conventional Mormon experience. While at BYU, wearing a peace pin, labeled her as an apostate. She later identified as a feminist. Then later she married a Jewish man, all while being  counseled at church to only marry someone of the same faith. She wanted her daughters to have a different experience in life, that wasn’t typically Mormon. There are things she likes about her faith, and things that she does not like.

What I liked

I really like memoirs and this book was no exception. Joanna is a great writer. I liked her honesty about her life in the church. Let me preface this by saying I know a lot of Mormons–so many people in the church tend to ignore anything that may be remotely bad about the church. Joanna mentions these things, not all of the things people complain about, but enough to be refreshing.

I do admire Joanna for voicing questions about things that a lot of people wouldn’t dare to voice questions about.

What I didn’t like

There are things about the Mormon faith that are beautiful; there are things about the Mormon faith that are not beautiful. I can see why the allure of these beautiful things has kept Joanna in the  church, but part of me wonders why she’s still active. No doubt there are people who are talking behind her back because she’s a feminist and she married a man not of the faith, a Jewish man to top it all, and doesn’t seem to care that he’s not a Mormon as well. There are times when Mormon culture, not necessarily church doctrine, can be very cruel.

Joanna does have an unorthodox Mormon experience, but those who do have that orthodox experience are most likely not looking at Joanna and smiling about it. For crying out loud, how can wearing a peace pin get you labeled as an anti-Christ? Isn’t peace what Jesus was all about?

Overall

Unorthodox Mormon experiences are pretty interesting.

Weigh In

Did you have an unorthodox religious experience growing up in a religious background?

What do you think about people of a faith who question that faith?

#973 Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks was originally published on One-elevenbooks