Published by Island on March 5th 1994
Genres: memoir, nonfiction
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Secret Ceremonies is the story of the awakening of Deborah Laake, who came of age in the early seventies in a manner that would have appeared out-of-step but certainly not tumultuous to an outsider. At a time when her generation was protesting a war and transforming national headlines into a saga of campus violence, she was instead a typical Mormon girl who experienced her college years at peaceful Brigham Young University as the fulfillment of all her dreams. She received good grades there, was attractive and popular and devout - but most of all she found The One, the man who declared that his claim to her was a matter of divine revelation. The role of dutiful wife and mother was the one she believed she was made for, and thus she was married in the sacred chambers of a Mormon temple while still in her teens, participating in angel-inspired ceremonies of special handshakes and voodoo of which much of the world is still unaware. From there her life - a picture-perfect one according to the Mormon standards by which she was raised - became an out-of-kilter dream from which she feared she'd never rouse. Her husband was a man whom she had never loved, whom she nonetheless believed God had chosen for her, but with whom she couldn't force herself to remain. Divorced by age twenty, she had failed at marriage, the only task that mattered, and gradually she realized that she was being punished. Barred from the Mormon temple by church authorities, even threatened with excommunication, she found her depression deepening. Trying to live up to the church's expectations of her, she married again, unaware that the result would be a spiral of mental illness that would propel her into a hospital ward ofunabashed psychotics, the likes of whom she'd never imagined. There, among the truly unconventional, she somehow recognized a modern world beckoning to her from beyond the closed patriarchal society that had always sheltered her yet kept her from true maturity. Always lyrical an
Badly written. The author was extremely childish and naive throughout, and comes across as a very flat, one sided character. It’s hard to believe anyone was actually that simple in how she thought – I’m sure the author was trying to just oversimplify the events of her life, but it didn’t come across that way.
I didn’t really learn anything new about Mormonism either, which is why I read the book, and could not like Laake as a person, which made for a dreadful book.