Lucia Greenhouse’s memoir reveals how her family was torn apart by her father’s strict adherence to Christian Science tenets even while her mother was dying of cancer. The author’s blog continues the conversation.
fathermothergod is an Oprah Book to Watch for August, and brings to my mind the amazing, Alex-Award winning memoir Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres (Counterpoint, 2006).
For more on teens and religion take a look at this terrific post on YALSA’s literature blog, The Hub, titled Thou Shalt Not — Religion and Teen Books. It offers suggestions of how religion should and should not be portrayed in YA literature, and links to lists of religiously-themed books. One of the comments points to a 2007 PPYA (Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults) list titled Religion: Relationship with the Divine.
GREENHOUSE, Lucia. fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science. 320p. Crown. Aug. 2011. Tr $25. ISBN 9787-0-307720924. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–While Greenhouse was raised in the faith, the subtitle doesn’t do the book justice. She doesn’t document her journey as much as she does the impact Christian Science has on her family. Born to converts to CS, Lucia, like most readers, follows the faith of her parents without quite understanding it; she is aware that the rest of her family does not share their beliefs. As she ages, she begins to question what she does believe and the efficacy of prayer over modern medicine, placing her in direct conflict with her father. The Eyeglasses Rebellion, when Lucia realizes that she needs glasses, a direct contradiction of CS belief, is the first real break. Shortly after her college graduation, Lucia notices that her mother is not well, and the ensuing conflicts over her care (or lack thereof) and death are poignantly captured; her maternal grandmother and aunts and uncles are kept out of the loop until close to the end, leading her uncle to threaten to sue the family. It’s no surprise that the author and her father remained relatively estranged until his death. Rather than a journey out of a faith, this is the story of one woman’s questioning and anguish over her parents’ choices. Teens wondering about their own faith, their parents’ expectations, and how to marry the two will find that this book resonates with them. It will also appeal to anyone wanting to know what it’s like to grow up in Christian Science, although Greenhouse does not go deeply into the tenets and beliefs. Suggest that readers have tissues close at hand. They’ll need them.–Laura Pearle, Hackley School, Tarrytown, NY