33 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
R. S. reviewed Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond on
Helpful Score: 9
This is a rare opportunity to see inside the LDS and get not only a description of the ceremonies and practices but the restrictive lives some young women experience. Clearly, the author, as a lapsed Mormon, represents that life differently than a believer would â IF a believer would discuss anything. But the fact that there exists an institution for overwhelmed women in need of hospitalization suggests that Deborah Laake's experience isn't unique.
The transition from starry eyed devotee to troubled soul looking for help within the LDS world to a humiliated divorcee to her eventual steps outside the LDS world make for good reading.
Suzanne reviewed Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond on
Helpful Score: 8
Very interesting peek at what goes on within the cult-like, patriarchial LDS world. Note: (The author has since passed away (suicide) after her excommunication and subsequent bout with cancer.) A similar, more contemporary memoir is Martha Beck's LEAVING THE SAINTS. Both authors are very brave to expose both the hypocrisy and the secrecy of the Mormon religion.
This non-fiction autobiography purports to be an expose of the Mormon religion, but is really just an expose of one woman's unhappy life.
I haven't learned anything I didn't know about Mormonism from this book, but I have learned more details than I really ever needed to know about a stranger's sex life!
The book isn't very well written, either, but it has the same weird appeal as that of a daytime talk show, where you can't really figure out WHY the guests want to reveal these sordid and intimate details of their lives to the general public.
And Laake does pretty much admit that the messes she gets herself into are her own fault... she's just pretty spineless. For example, she marries a guy she doesn't love - but it wasn't an arranged marriage or anything - the guy pursued her, she didn't have the guts to break up with him or tell him no, and she *assumes* that her family would want her to marry him. Of course, the marriage doesn't go well. But it wasn't her church that got her into the mess. After the divorce (which her family supports her through), yes, church elders treat her pretty badly. But you know what? No one's forcing her to go to counseling with male elders who are weirdly obsessed with the details of her sex life. No one's even forcing her to be a Mormon!
In the end, the moral you can take away from the story is that trying to live your life by what you *think* are other people's expectations for you will only make you miserable. Reading Laake's story, I keep wanting to say "Stick up for yourself!" and "Get over it!"
But, I read on salon.com that a while after this book became a bestseller, she committed suicide. While I disagree with many aspects of Mormonism (and of pretty much all religions - I'm an equal-opportunity atheist!), I don't think the religion she was brought up in was really responsible for her unhappiness in life. After all, plenty of people leave a religion without letting it ruin their life! The problem was her personal inability to decide what *she* wanted from life, and to go out and find it.
A very depressed, confused, woman navigates through her life as a Mormon. She confuses religious dogma with her sexuality. She also tends to place blame on outside influences that affect her life. I think her perception of Mormon life (and her sexual frustration) is skewed by her untreated depression. She jumps quickly into relationships followed by marriages and then is confused as to why they all fail. Although she portrays herself as a victim she is a survivor who uses people and situations to benefit her needs at the moment. No amount of words or explaining can alter that fact.
Mona D. (swimmom) reviewed Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond on
Helpful Score: 1
I found this book interesting - but that's it. It reveals some of the thinking of Mormonism which I hadn't known before. But not worth the negatives of having to read through her very personal private issues to learn of the Mormon Secrets. I don't recommend this book. I'm sure there are others out there that would give you the same information without having to wade through her intimate details.
I thought this book was excellent. I read it over the weekend even though it was 350+ pages. Such an interesting read about a religion I know little about. I had no idea about the secret rituals mentioned in the book and other faith principals.
I thought this book was pretty interesting. I had read Leaving the Saints book first. This book fills in the detail that book leaves out. Gives some pretty weird info on what goes on in the Mormon church. Book is basically about one woman's spiritual journey though.
Dean L. reviewed Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond on
Deborah Laake's personal experiences having grown up within the Mormon church.
Deborah is able to retell her own story with humor and able regardless of the mormon communities shaming her to give her own life some dignity. This is a tragic story for the most part, and even more so after the book ended.
This is a fantastic read for anyone who wants to understand how mormonism can and has played a role in the lives of too many young women.
It's a fantastic and entertaining read regardless of one's religious curiosity.
Elizabeth H. reviewed Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond on
Fascinating and depressing at the same time. It's very sad to think that this poor woman committed suicide a few years after this book was published. It's not an uplifting book, but it's interesting and I recommend it.
I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. It talks about some of the secret ceremonies (hence the title) and practices of the Mormon church. It was particularly interesting to me since I live about 1/4 of a mile from the Mormon church in Mesa which is where some of the book takes place. It demystifies some of the rituals.
However, about halfway through the book the author starts talking about her psychological problems and that's primarily what the rest of the book is about. She lost me about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through the book. I would rather have heard more about the practices of the Mormon church then her visits to the psych wards.
A fairly engaging read.
An eye-opening account of what goes on inside the Mormon Temple. Deborah Laake writes with real candor.....how many women could bring themselves to discuss masturbation with their fathers, let alone write a book in which the praises of self-gratification are loudly sung? (I loved her father's respnse, by the way. Talk about your cool dads!)
Although I think it's sad that the author eventually lost a faith that she once cherished, I did enjoy the book.
Ellen J. reviewed Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond on
This book is full of half truths and outright lies about the Mormon church. I urge everyone who reads it to get the whole truth by contacting a member of the Mormon church or speaking with the missionaries representing the church. This woman clearly was not mature enough to handle a temple marriage (probably not any marriage) and conveniently blames the church when things don't go her way.
I was hoping there would be more information about the inside workings of the Mormon church. After the wedding ceremony and the first divorce, that was pretty much it. The rest of the book went on about the author's struggle coping with her mental state. I didn't find that part bad, it wasn't what I was looking for when I picked up the book. I am sad to hear that she took her own life a few years after the book was published due to her depression after her fight with cancer. The epilogue shifted her attention back to the LDS church which I found interesting.
This was a very disappointing book. It seems to me to be the ramblings of a dysfunctional woman. It does not live up to its hype of exposing the inner workings of the Mormon Church, at least not my expectations. It could be because the book is over 10 years old and so much more information is available these days, but overall,,,,the book was deadly dull. I forced myself to read it because I kept waiting for the good parts other people were praising.
A candid, often startling memoir of the author's life as a Mormon wife. Though Laake is now a professional journalist, she was raised in a Mormon family and sent to Brigham Young University with one paramount aim: to find and marry ``a faithful Mormon man.'' Without such a marriage, plus the guidance that only a devout husband could provide, she would ``be denied access to the highest level of Mormon heaven''--just one of the many unusual aspects of the emphatically patriarchal religion that Laake reveals here. Moreover, the author intended to wed not any man but ``the One''- -the marriage partner predestined by God--and when she began to doubt that one narrow-minded but extraordinarily persistent suitor, Monty Brown, was the One, Monty and Laake's own brother rushed to her side to exorcise ``the devil'' that had invaded her soul. Laake married Monty in an arcane ceremony whose esoteric details are zestfully described here; pledged to wear ``garments'' (a kind of sanctified nightgown) for the rest of her life; and began what most Americans would consider a bizarre life that included the recycling of condoms through vigorous washing. Within nine months, the naturally free-spirited author asked for a divorce and began--under the close (and, by her account, sexually obsessed) scrutiny of male church authorities--a painful odyssey of self-liberation that included two further marriages, two nervous breakdowns with hospitalization, and the slow recognition of her worth as a woman. Throughout, Laake tends toward emotionally colored, often awkward, writing.
I believe that we must each serve God according to our own conscience. I do not believe in any church controlled by a male patriarchy. I am a Christian but I have not nor will ever be LDS. I do not believe that the author' perception of God and Christianity to be correct according to the Bible. But God gives us the free agency to live according to our conscience. I see her as following what she believes is right at this moment. Our religious liberty gives us the right to do that in the United States.