A heartfelt and richly detailed memoir.




A religious and political activist tells the story of how she grew up in and then left the extremist Westboro Baptist Church.

As the granddaughter of the church founder, Phelps-Roper grew up in a large, tightly knit family that believed “God ruled via the parents and elders.” What that meant in practice was that she had to assimilate a church culture emphasizing “the celebration and mockery” of the tragedies that befell nonbelievers. Throughout childhood and adolescence, Phelps-Roper lived a double life. At school, she was a dedicated student who kept matters of faith out of her discussions with teachers and classmates. Outside of school, she and the members of her church community were vocal protesters against homosexuality, adultery, and the morally bankrupt nature of society. When Westboro's “picketing ministry” brought it into the media spotlight, Phelps-Roper became one of the most visible spokespeople for the church. As a young adult, she traveled all over the country to show “that the Bible really did say what [the Westboro Church] claimed it did.” By 2011, she became her church’s voice on Twitter, where she routinely “bait[ed] celebrities with anti-gay messages” and celebrated such tragedies as the Fukushima nuclear disaster. She also started communicating with an anonymous lawyer who engaged her in intelligent and respectful theological debate. As she began questioning her religious beliefs, she realized that she was also falling in love with the lawyer, who eventually became her husband. Phelps-Roper soon found she could no longer support the cruelty and “all or nothing” nature of her faith. After Westboro leadership became even more conservative and hypocritical, she and a free-spirited younger sister made the excruciating decision to leave both the church and their family. Eloquent and entirely candid, the book offers an intimate look at a controversial church while telling the moving story of how one woman found the courage to stand against the people and beliefs that she held dearest.

A heartfelt and richly detailed memoir.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-27583-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?