The book has some very humorous scenes that had me laughing out loud. It also has a number of poignant scenes that drive home some of the more important issues that revolve around being an ex-Mormon. I think my favorite point in the book was eloquently addressed in this quote, "He was a beautiful creature, so strong and manly, yet reduced to a child by his parents' disapproval" (p. 295). The quote is Lynn talking about Rex after he's been chastised for giving his younger brother beer. As much as most young ex-Mormons want to deny it, the disapproval they experience from their parents really does hurt at a fundamental level. Most people want their parents to be proud of them, and when something like religion results in a permanent state of disapproval, that's hard to take.
Sex rarely discussed, and when so is said in code terms. A partially eaten donut is used to symbolize a female who is not a virgin, essentially stating that nobody would want her. Masturbation is referred to as "this business" or "taking care of this little problem". Analogies like "petting" are used to disgust youth by conjuring up images "like something you would do with a dog"; essentially a form of emotive control. It is often assumed that the boys are the ones who pressure the girls to have sex, but this is not always the case. Sexual activity occurs within the sacred confines of the church, with an "uplifting experience" at a Youth Conference - among many other things, in many other places - showing how, despite doctrine, members will and do use theirs. I never went to Youth Conference and had 'dated' other people before I was sixteen, being "rebellious and... refus[ing] to go to church things" like many Mormon-raised males, such as Rex, a charismatic character many ex-Mormons (including myself) can relate to.
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Her prose is simple and straightforward, yet rich enough to express subtle nuances of character and emotion. In Saturday's Warrior, which is part three of her novel, Exmormon, Chanson writes about a 15 year old girl's coming of age through the trials of love, lust, and religion. The work seems to me at once accessible to teens and very likely fascinating for adults.
Mormon Superstar's review:
Within typical "Mormon stories" you get characters that are perfectly bland. Examples could include "Nephi-like" stories where a character's courage and faith always seem to guide him to that "right" choice and to saving the day with his newly crafted bow. At other times you get the "Mormon abstinence" stories, which include Joseph Smith's "famous" refusal of alcohol before having surgery on his knee.
Hanson's book truly shines by being a "Mormon story" that is not crafted to show how one develops that perfect faithful idealism that Mormons call a testimony but how one who is striving to understand and develop such ideals gets caught up in one of a myriad of paths that Mormons refer to as "the ways of the world." This makes this book all the more enjoyable and the characters all the more relative. They aren't perfect Mormons. In fact, one can come incredibly close to understanding an ex-mormon's psyche by reading this book.
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