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Girl Meets God: a Review in Dialogue

October 6, 2009

Kelly (aka Kailana) and I both read Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner recently, so we decided it would be fun to do a joint review! And I know that I had a wonderful time. :D I’ve got the first half of it, and she’ll be posting the second half today. :) Also, thank you for all of the comments on my post yesterday. I will definitely be doing another post on this issue within the next couple of days, so stay tuned!

GirlMeetsGodEva: Maybe we should start with why we read it? I mentioned in a post that I’m exploring Christianity again, and someone recommended it ‘based on my blog’. Then I saw the paperback cover, which has a girl in cute shoes standing a pile of books, and I knew I wanted to read it! :)

Kelly: Well, I read this book because I saw it mentioned on your library loot. It is not my normal type of read at all. The library here had it, so I thought I would take a chance on it. I like to break out of my comfort zone once in a while, so a book that I loved the cover of made the most sense, right?

Then, there is always the wondering if you learned anything from the book.

I know the basics of most religious practices, but I have to admit that I am not really an expert on things. I would be reading this book and there were lots of times when I discovered something entirely new. I admit to knowing more about Christianity than Judaism in the first place. It made me kind of curious about some things and I might read another book on certain subjects in the future, so that is a possible big step for me.

Eva: I know more about Christianity than Judaism too! (I was raised Catholic.) In fact, even though this is ostensibly a Christian memoir, I thought the Jewish parts were much more interesting. That might be the attractiveness of the unknown, though, since I lived in the Bible Belt for long enough to have several evangelical friends! Is evangelical Christianity common in Canada? Or was it new to you?

Kelly: I had heard the term ‘evangelical Christianity’ before, but I had no idea what it meant! I have to admit, I want to say that it isn’t common in Canada, but I tend to live under a rock when it comes to religious practices, so I could be entirely wrong! I don’t hear it mentioned all that much.

Speaking of churches, I was overexcited that she goes to Madeleine L’Engle’s church! She (L’Engle) was still alive when this book was released, but she is deceased now. I love L’Engle so much that I want to go to her church just because she went there. (See, a religious book is a perfect time to make strange confessions, right?)

Eva: I don’t think that’s strange! L’Engle wasn’t one of my very fave authors when I was little, but I certainly enjoyed her. :) I thought the church sounded interesting. Especially since her pastor told her he wanted her to give up reading for Lent!

Kelly: I was horrified! Six weeks of no reading? I am serious, that scene in the book is the one that I remember the best! When you were reading I was waiting for you to finish just so I could express how crazy I think she is. I couldn’t do, so I applaud the effort. I still think she is crazy…

What did you think about the fact she was a book lover?

Eva: I was horrified and impressed all at once. Since I grew up Catholic, I understand the idea of giving up something you really love for Lent. But to me it’s also about something you really love that’s a BAD habit. I’d never call reading a bad habit! It’s interesting she doesn’t say if she gave it up for Lent again!

I loved that she was a book lover. But I expected to be able to relate to her more than I did. She was so snobby about it; at one point she even talks about her “cherished intellectual snobbery.” This annoyed me. Admitting a flaw doesn’t make it ok. When she was talking about her church at Cambridge, I rolled my eyes at: “In fact, some of the chapel people repelled me. …I had nothing to talk about with any of them, though Lord knows I tried, not even theology, a concept that seemed foreign to these students, students for whom everything about Jesus was perfectly clear cut. ‘These are not,’ I sniffed to Jo, ‘people I would ever invite to a dinner party.’

Kelly: I know! I was shocked she would include that. She has to know how that would come across… Did you notice when she was listing off her bookshelves she has no fiction at all? You know she reads it because she mentions it a couple times during the book, but when it comes down to it she appears to pretend that it doesn’t even exist. Her bookshelves are very academic, which is fine, but it is like she is too good for fiction. There were no ’embarassing’ shelves, really.

She did think she was a bit better than people often, though. It makes you wonder when she talks about how she lost friends because of her religion change if it was because of the change, or if it was because she acted like she thought she was superior with the change…

to read the rest of our review, go to Kelly’s blog!

21 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2009 11:11 am

    Hi, this is not linked t the review. Where is Library Loot this week? I went to Marg’s page and it wouldn’t load properly I can only see the side bar :(

    • October 6, 2009 11:16 am

      Hi Katrina! I know it’s not linked to the review-Kelly hasn’t gotten her half posted yet. :/ Hopefully it’ll be up soon!

      A new LL Mr. Linky is posted every Wednesday. So the one from last Wednesday is on my blog (Marg was on vacation), and the new one will be up tomorrow! **Eva

  2. October 6, 2009 11:55 am

    I know, I’m sorry! It’s up now!

  3. October 6, 2009 1:08 pm

    Fun idea. I’d want to go to L’engle’s church, too…

  4. October 6, 2009 3:03 pm

    Pretty sure this simply isn’t a book for me, but that’s okay, right? What I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED was this review! It was fantastic, and I couldn’t have enjoyed the style of it more!

    Okay, now I’m going to go copy and paste this into Eva’s comments. ;)

  5. October 6, 2009 3:10 pm

    Joint reviews are so much fun! Having someone else with whom to interacts seems to elicit such interesting aspects of a book! Thanks for doing this – it was so fun to read! (more fun than your post yesterday) :–)

  6. October 6, 2009 4:37 pm

    I’m sorry – I’m confused. IS the snob person L’Engle or the author of this book? Did L’Engle or Winner have to give up reading for Lent and had no fiction on her shelves? sorry – I’ll reread it again. (slinks away….)

  7. October 6, 2009 4:49 pm

    I read this book several years ago and liked it a lot. (I can’t remember if I suggested it on your earlier post, but it crossed my mind to do so at the time).

    I think part of Winner’s snobbery, particularly in the anecdote you mention Eva, is actually a pretty understandable reaction to the anti-intellectualism that is common in much (but not all) evangelical Christianity. There’s definite resistance among some evangelicals to engaging with deeper questions. “God said it. I believe it. That settles it” is the mantra, and you see that thinking even among some with an otherwise academic bent.

    I appreciated that Winner fessed up to the snobbery as flaw because that is the first step to getting past it–and confession is a key practice in Christianity.

    And yeah, she might have lost some friends by talking about her faith with the sometimes off-putting zeal of the new convert. I went through the same thing, and it took me years to realize it.

  8. October 6, 2009 7:03 pm

    Great first half! I’m becoming more interested in the book all the time for some reasons, while the snobbery part sounds pretty detestable.

  9. October 6, 2009 7:08 pm

    I read the first of L’Engle’s memoirs, A Circle of Quiet. It is a refreshing look of spirituality, questioning what is right and not in a small town. I enjoyed reading it. Off to read the second half of this review…

  10. October 6, 2009 7:09 pm

    I really liked your joint review of this book. It’s interesting that the cover shoes a girl stepping on a pile of books. In Hinduism, stepping on books is a BIG no-no. You have to then do this little thing where you touch the book and then your forehead and your heart, to show respect for the book and the knowledge it contains. So really, seeing a cover of a book with a girl stepping on books kind of horrifies me. Childhood habits are tough to break, I guess, even if you aren’t the most religious person in the world ;-)

    Also, I would never be able to give up reading. Probably would rather give up chilies or spicy food. And seriously- that would be a big thing for me.

  11. October 6, 2009 8:17 pm

    I like this concept of dual reviews, and I enjoyed reading both halves even though I don’t think this book is for me. But it would be impossible for me to want to read every single book in book blog reviews– otherwise my TBR list would circle the earth at least twice :-).

    Loved the last comment about how Hinduism considers stepping on books as a big no-no! I’m not Hindu, but I do know I always tell my kids to treat books with respect — bookmarks are a must (even if it’s just a scrap of paper), rather than leaving it upside down and open at the same time (what the a one-word term for that?! I’m tired right now).

  12. October 6, 2009 10:07 pm

    Thanks for the joint review…what a great idea. Giving up books for Lent???? I would die! ha!

  13. October 7, 2009 4:58 am

    Okay, I must try doing a conversation/review. Like it. Sounds like I’m right in the middle of a bookclub. Pass the Doritos!

  14. October 7, 2009 6:35 am

    Give up reading for Lent? I’m horrified. I always gave up sweets, or cursing. And this is something her pastor suggested she do – did he say why? Maybe if he was quite close with her, and he thought that she used books as an excuse not to spend time with real people…was that why?

  15. stacybuckeye permalink
    October 7, 2009 10:05 am

    What a greeat book review. I look forward to reading the rest of it. That cover is irresistable!

  16. October 7, 2009 8:50 pm

    I love how you and Kelly did this review together, it’s great reading your conversation and what you both think bout the book. And the book really interests me. I was raised in a strict Catholic household, Catholic education all the way. Several unpleasant things happened to me in my 20s and I stopped going to church. I’m going to check out this book and may read it! Thanks for a great review!

  17. October 7, 2009 9:36 pm

    What a great way to review this one. I read it several years ago (pre-blog) and really enjoyed it. I think it really spurred an interest in religious memoirs of this type for me.

  18. October 11, 2009 6:22 am

    Kailana, sorry-I didn’t mean to make you feel bad! I thought this was replying via e-mail-not on the site! *blushes*

    Melissa, thanks!

    Debi, aww-I’m glad you loved it!

    Rhapsody, I agree-it was a lot of fun for me to do!

    Care, lol-the snob is the author!!!

    Teresa, I’m familiar enough w/ the Evangelical community to get the anti-intellectual vibe. ;) But it felt like half of what Winner said was just to impress the reader. I don’t know, maybe I’m being too judgemental!

    Andi, I wouldn’t go so far as to say detestable, but unlikable for sure.

    Rebecca, I’ll have to try out one of L’Engle’s memoirs-thanks for the suggestion. :)

    Aarti, that’s so interesting-I had no idea that Hinduism had that taboo! Thanks for sharing that. :) I think I’d rather give up spicy food than reading too, although it would be pretty awful.

    Valerie, I’m always rather relived when a review doesn’t make me want to put the book on my TBR list! ;)

    Kathleen, thanks! I think I would die too!

    Debnance, I’ve never been in a bookclub, but I loved being able to chat w/ someone about the book.

    Jenny, she imagines it’s because he wants her to think more, meditate more deeply, get to know Jesus better. And he thinks you should give up something you really, really love for Lent, and reading was what she loved most.

    Stacy, isn’t the cover adorable?

    Amy, thanks! I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience with Catholicism. :(

    Lisa, this is my first religious memoir, but I’m sure I’ll be reading more!


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