Wednesday, September 19

Posted by Laurel Garver on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 10 comments
Today I'm talking with Sophia Stone, author of The Mormon Diaries. Stone's story fascinated me because a couple of my favorite books, Searching for God Knows What (Donald Miller) and Traveling Mercies (Anne Lamott) are in the same genre--spiritual memoir.

I expected, in a story of growing up in--and away from--Mormonism to be a bit more like a 20/20 expose. Because that's how our culture tends to treat organizations like the LDS church. I certainly didn't expect to get such an intimate, personal look at the emotional side of growing up in this faith tradition, or the excruciating pain inflicted when one tries to part from it.

This book is an intensely personal, never polemical story of Stone's struggles to grasp promised spiritual rewards that remain always out of reach. It's smart and tender-hearted, beautifully written and absolutely riveting. I found it deeply satisying to watch Stone change from timid pleaser to a brave voice in the wilderness who won't be silenced any longer. And yet her abiding desire to truly know God remains a steady pulse throughout.

I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who's ever struggled to be "good enough" for God's love.

I think the trailer captures well just how emotional this memoir is:

Author Q&A with Sophia Stone

Thanks for joining me today, Sophia.

How has writing about your faith struggles helped you?

There’s a saying that writing is cheaper than therapy, and I can attest to that. There’s no time limit on how long I can type away on my keyboard when I’m having a bad day. I don’t have to worry about the paper judging me. Plus, it’s helped me to put things in perspective.

What are the best ways to support someone going through a faith crisis? 

The most important thing is to listen. Don’t distance yourself. Don’t shy away. Don’t give advice, and definitely don’t judge. Just be a friend. Period. Sometimes it really is that simple.

How has your change in beliefs affected your marriage and children?

I think it has benefited my children in a number of ways. First, by showing them that goodness isn’t based on legalistic rules, they are more accepting of themselves and others. Second, by helping them see that there isn’t one right way to be a decent human being, they are able to think the best of people. Third, by opening up to other ideas and spiritual philosophies, they are more open as well.

As for my marriage, my change in beliefs has brought to light problems I’d been ignoring for years. Things having to do with power dynamics, issues with inflexibility, and some fundamental disagreements in parenting styles between my husband and I. My marriage has suffered and I worry about it often. But I also know that without the insights I have now, the relationship would continue to grow more unbalanced and necessary change would never occur.

I’m crossing my fingers and holding out hope in the marriage department.

Who should read your book?

Anyone who wants to better understand how religions indoctrinate children, how they can unite and separate families, how they can bring peace and turmoil at the same time. Anyone who wants a more personal understanding of how it feels to grow up in a legalistic religion that values trust and obedience more highly than free thought, or anyone who wants to understand Mormonism.

Please don’t misread that to mean my book is factually perfect. It’s not. It is based on my experience, and everyone’s reality is different. But I stand by my claim that people who leave Mormonism are often in an isolating place. It’s hard for an orthodox believer to understand why anyone would leave. It’s hard for those who’ve never been in a fundamentalist religion to understand why leaving one is such a big deal. To both these groups, I’d say, “Please read this!” Understanding is vital.

= = =

Brought up in a religious home, Sophia believes the only way to have a forever family is by following church leaders and obediently choosing the right. She goes to the right school, marries the right man in the right place, and does the right thing by staying home to raise her children. But when she starts asking questions about grace, love, and the nature of God, she realizes her spiritual struggles could rip her family apart.

Available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble.

Follow Sophia on Twitter at @ask_a_mormon.

Have you been through a crisis of faith or some life event that isolated you? What helped you through it?


  1. Best wishes for Sophia's book release! I'm doing a post today for her too. ;o) Nice to have a viewpoint here from you, who has read the book! Sounds like an important novel for people to experience.

    1. I like unique spiritual memoirs, and this one is particularly good. Here's hoping our one-two shout-outs help garner more readers. ;-)

  2. I really like the trailer. But since I'm a poet, I'm a little biased.

    1. I like how it evokes to the feeling we often have at Christmas, hoping so hard for a particular gift--and then don't receive it.

  3. Fascinating. I did not grow up in a strict religious home but I struggled a lot with faith as a teenager and I'm fascinated by stories of faith. Sophia's story sounds really intriguing. Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

    1. It is intriguing. I grew up mutt-Protestant and always find it interesting how other faith traditions bring children in, teach and (in some cases) indoctrinate them.

  4. Excellent trailer. My best to Sophia and the journey she has undertaken.

    1. It is a well-done trailer. Captures the voice of the memoir really well.

  5. Sounds like a thought provoking read...all the more so for being true. Best to you Sophia.

    1. It surely is. It opened my eyes quite a lot to just how hard it is leave a tradition one is raised in, especially when there's overwhelming pressure with that community to stay. I've had no real experience with that personally. Powerful stuff.