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“Book of Mormon Girl” Author Joanna Brooks to Appear on “The Daily Show” on Thursday

My DVR is already set to record Mormon memoirist Joanna Brooks on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Thursday. Well, actually, my DVR is always set to record that show; it's one of my favorites. I've blogged before about how Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have raised the bar in fair journalistic coverage of Mormonism, even while making us all laugh.

I'm proud that Joanna will be representing my faith on The Daily Show. I started crowing about her memoir on this blog back in February; you can read that interview with her here. Since that time, the book she self-published (no NY publisher would give it the time of day) took off, speaking to Mormons' need for candid, loving portraits of our religion and to outsiders' curiosity in this endless "Mormon Moment."

Suddenly those same NY agents and publishers who had rejected the book the first time around became a lot more interested. Go figure. Today, Joanna's book is being re-released by The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, with two new chapters and a blitzkrieg marketing campaign. Peggy Fletcher Stack did a great write-up of the re-release in yesterday's Salt Lake Tribune.

I hope you'll buy the book if you haven't already. Joanna speaks with a frankness that is devoid of propaganda but also demonstrates an abiding love for the religion she tried to leave but that kept calling her home again. In an endorsement I called her "a contemporary Mormon pioneer" and the book "a compelling memoir of being found and lost and found again."

For many people, Joanna has become a symbol of a progressive Mormonism that stands for marriage equality and is compatible with feminist goals. This kind of Mormonism is not trying to hide the warts in its own history, but it doesn't dwell on such peccadilloes either, preferring instead to emphasize what is "of good report" -- and finding no shortage of things that are admirable and lovely.

If I sound enthusiastic, it's because I am. In fact, a couple of months back when I blogged about Mormonism and same-sex marriage, a reader commented:

Dear Jana Riess,
Please go off and marry Joanna Brooks and stop representing LDS members. Both of you have such a loud voice while representing the smallest of minorities in our church. Your comments and articles do absolutely nothing for the work of the Lord. Thankyou

I was tickled by this and thought, "Marry Joanna . . . What a great idea!" So I proposed by email, she accepted, and you are all invited (along with our bemused husbands).

I will be proud of my "sister wife" on Thursday when Joanna takes to the airwaves. You go, girl.


Topics: Faith, Doctrine & Practice
Beliefs: Mormon
Tags: book of mormon girl brooks, flunking sainthood, jana riess, joanna brooks, joanna brooks on the daily show, jon stewart, mormon moment, mormonism and same-sex marriage, peggy fletcher stack, religion dispatches, salt lake tribune on faith, stephen colbert and mormonism


  1. hahahahaha!  This made my day.  I haven’t laughed like that for a looong time.  Will you please invite me to yours and Joanna’s wedding?  I’ll make the green jello with shredded carrots dessert. 

    You make a beautiful couple….along with your husbands. grin 

    It’s women like you and Joanna that make Mormonism such a fun place to be.  Keep up the good work. <3

  2. Ms. Brooks is very wrong about only her book being published in 2012 on the subject of Mormonism..  My wife and I have recently published CHRIS AND LOUISA which is getting excellent, appreciative comments on the research, writing, plot and explanations of what the church is all about. PLEASE look at it.  Try Amazon, Barnes and many others:CHRIS AND LOUISA
                      Ralph P. Vander Heide , Ph.d. & Judith H. Vander Heide

      The excellence of this novel emerges from the very style in which it is written, quickly captivating the reader’s complete attention as the plot seques smoothly from one chapter to the next between Chris and her greatgrandmother, recounting the lives of the two remarkable women. The Vander Heides are faithful to history in describing events or referring to dates. If society in a given year drank only from square bottles, be assured that their characters do not use tin cans.
    “It holds my interest,” a friend commented. I would add that it holds interest, but although each page is equally well crafted, page 7 is far different than page 133 or 202,  for existence is never static, and should not art imitate life?? The characters are persons the authors have known and will become acquaintances of readers.  What would Chris or Mark “think about that,” I ask myself. 
    Novels are examined by critics for form and structure, for skill in painting reality so that the reader feels, empathizes, “gets into the story line.” The Austrian philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein and his group interpreted aesthetics to be the “examination of the ways in which language is used.” Let us then say this novel is “aesthetic,” but not stuffy or “over one’s head” because, simply stated, it is a “smooth read.”.. no rough transitions, bad grammar, sloppy vocabulary or jerky plot here.
    German literary historians consider the concept of Erlebnis, living , experiencing, being a part of the story. We may say, “really getting into it,” which occurs with Chris and Louisa because although written in an educated, studied style with sophisticated vocabulary it is only a simple story, the everyday lives of two related women who, living in different centuries lead somewhat parallel lives. They recognize what they have to do, and get at it, for each is revealed to be intelligent, tough and yet tender.
    This novela of polygamy and 125 years of history of the USA is an excellent addition to the literature of the American west. Do we detect the influence of the literature the Vander Heides have read…or their instruction by some of the best teachers? This book proves the point of Henry James that the novelist must write from experience.  The authors know what they are writing about. They have lived and worked in the locales and understand their characters, resulting in a praiseworthy accomplishment in every way.
    Consider the conciseness of words, yet the beauty of this description: “Listlessly pushing a loose strand of hair behind her ear, Louisa fought the lassitude brought on by the intense, muggy heat….there was respite from the fetid stench of the Mayflies which hatched by the trillions to infest the banks of the Mississippi.”

  3. No comment?  I would love to get
    some evaluative feedback

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