Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope

Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to HopeLOUIS THEROUX For Anyone Who Enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy Or Educated, Unfollow Is An Essential Text NICK HORNBY A Beautiful, Gripping Book About A Singular Soul, And An Unexpected Redemption JON RONSON Her Journey From Westboro To Becoming One Of The Most Empathetic, Thoughtful, Humanistic Writers Around Is Exceptional And Inspiring As Featured On The BBC Documentary,The Most Hated Family In Americait Was An Upbringing In Many Ways Normal A Loving Home, Shared With Squabbling Siblings, Overseen By Devoted Parents Yet In Other Ways It Was The Precise Opposite A Revolving Door Of TV Camera Crews And Documentary Makers, A World Of Extreme Discipline, Of Siblings Vanishing In The NightMegan Phelps Roper Was Raised In The Westboro Baptist Church The Fire And Brimstone Religious Sect At Once Aggressively Homophobic And Anti Semitic, Rejoiceful For AIDS And Natural Disasters, And Notorious For Its Picketing The Funerals Of American Soldiers From Her First Public Protest, Aged Five, To Her Instrumental Role In Spreading The Church S Invective Via Social Media, Her Formative Years Brought Their Difficulties But Being Reviled Was Not One Of Them She Was Preaching God S Truth She Was, In Her Words, All InIn November , At The Age Of Twenty Six, She Left The Church, Her Family, And Her Life Behind Unfollow Is A Story About The Rarest Thing Of All A Person Changing Their Mind It Is A Fascinating Insight Into A Closed World Of Extreme Belief, A Biography Of A Complex Family, And A Hope Inspiring Memoir Of A Young Woman Finding The Courage To Find Compassion For Others, As Well As Herself Hi I m Laura from Chapter 8 This is NOT an unbiased review Some framework I have the great privilege and pleasure to call Megan a beloved friend I have been by her side always metaphorically, sometimes literally since the events of Chapter 8 As a person, I find Megan to be one of the most vibrant, passionate, and brave human beings I have ever met The strength it took her to not only survive all the events of this book, but also to be the driving force behind them, takes my breath awa Hi I m Laura from Chapter 8 This is NOT an unbiased review Some framework I have the great privilege and pleasure to call Megan a beloved friend I have been by her side always metaphorically, sometimes literally since the events of Chapter 8 As a person, I find Megan to be one of the most vibrant, passionate, and brave human beings I have ever met The strength it took her to not only survive all the events of this book, but also to be the driving force behind them, takes my breath away The strength she continues to display as she takes on the world and the Westboro Baptist Church, one TED Talk, one conference panel, one joyfully lived day at a time, leaves me in awe Okay Enough love letter Let s talk about this book I read a lot of early chapter drafts Before reading this book as a completed whole, I knew what it was about I knew its themes and history and narrative style I have admired Megan s writing since the very first draft I read Her language flows lyrically, I am jealous of her vocabulary She really is as fast talking in real life as the book implies, but in writing her words can keep up with the speed of her thoughts, and from those words she spins out love, heartache, and resolution, all in equal measure No amount of draft reading could have prepared me for the impact the book would have on me, read as a cohesive whole I actually didn t mean to pick it up and read it straight through just now I picked it up to admire its completion and to feel what it was like now that it was an actual book My eyes caught on the opening lines I found myself skimming through chapter one, and by chapter two I was properly reading and couldn t put it down I already knew the whole story I knew the plot twists, I knew the ending I read anyway, gobbling it up as if it were the first time The early chapters contain a lot of background There s something very disconcerting and occasionally even repulsive, reading about the history and tactics of the WBC from the perspective of someone deeply entrenched, someone who not only knew the doctrines but lived for them, reveled in them The unabashedness with which Megan could shout mockery and insults evokes a kind of visceral repulsion, and knowing that it was her loving family that trained her up in these ways of callous cruelty doubles the discomfiture Seeing how the public preaching tactics sat hand in hand with the warmth and love that the Phelps family displayed to each other is downright disconcerting Once Megan shifts from reporting on the history of her family church to telling of how her own mind engaged with their teachings and began slowly unraveling the precepts she d held firm all her life, the real humanity of her situation becomes apparent It seems impossible that such love and such cruelty could live together in the same heart, and it seems obvious that such a mental paradox would eventually have to give way under its own weight, but most of us have never been so thoroughly trapped by our circumstances The cost of disobedience and rebellion for Megan was not just high, it was everything By the end of chapter 7, I was in tears I ve known loss to death less painful than the loss Megan describes of her living family, and you feel her loss in every word I couldn t help but imagine how her family would feel reading this book Will they read it Can they get past the ugliness of plain truths that they will feel, instead, as lies and slander Will they be able to feel Megan s love of them, her desperate desire to save them from themselves and have them back in her life Can they even get an inkling, through the indoctrination that would inform such a reading, of her deep sincerity I hope so Throughout the book, Megan shows us plainly the workings of her mind and heart the ways she struggled to understand herself, her family, and their places in the world Megan doesn t just observe the events that shaped her she passes judgment on the actions of her family, and on her own past actions as well But she also comes away with a sense of purpose and determination to make changes for the better I have learned so much from Megan about what it means to love, to lose, and to continue loving I have learned resilience from her, and boundless hope I have learned, above and beyond all, the earth shattering importance of learning how to change your mind I can t wait for the rest of you to read this book Fantastic. After watching Louis Theroux s original visit to the Westboro Baptist Church over a decade ago, and his visit around 2012 either just before or just after Megan left , I was fascinated to know how someone so embedded in a familial culture of hatred could see the light, as it were, and leave that culture behind, especially knowing that it would likely mean excommunication from the family.So, needless to say, I am UNBELIEVABLY curious and excited to dive into this one Book Review Unfollow A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist ChurchAuthor Megan Phelps RoperPublisher Farrar, Straus and GirouxPublication Date October 8, 2019Review Date May 16, 2019I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review I m aware that I had had access to the book months before publication I usually wait until closer publication time to read and review NetGalley books But in this case, I was very interested in the book and didn t Book Review Unfollow A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist ChurchAuthor Megan Phelps RoperPublisher Farrar, Straus and GirouxPublication Date October 8, 2019Review Date May 16, 2019I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review I m aware that I had had access to the book months before publication I usually wait until closer publication time to read and review NetGalley books But in this case, I was very interested in the book and didn t want to wait to read and review it This is a memoir written by one of the family members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas The church is very small it s really primarily made up of the Phelps family Megan is the granddaughter of the church founder, Fred Phelps I remember reading about the church, as you may have This is the group that picketed veterans funerals and held up signs saying, God hates fags I remember being outraged when reading about their demonstrations, as were many others who read about them or held counter protests against their outrageous demonstrations I love reading memoirs This memoir reminded me of the book Educated by Tara Westover, and other memoirs of people who had grown up in cults and somehow came to consciousness and left their cults During the course of my life, I ve been involved with three cults, including a Christian one So I have some understanding of what happens in cults, and what it takes to remove oneself from their mental and emotional grip The WBC Westboro Baptist Church is a particularly insidiously hateful cult Growing up in this cult must have been especially brutal Megan, at around age 26, had an awakening one day, while painting a bedroom with her sister Out of the blue, she saw how cruel her family had been and how she had been corralled into their cultish lifestyle She, along with her sister, left the cult the church her family over the course of a few months.The memoir spells out her awakening and her leaving the church My heart ached for her, and I am so grateful she had the strength to leave The writing was a bit verbose, a littledetail about her feelings and process than I thought necessary But I imagine the writing of the memoir helped her with her liberation If you like to read memoir and or have an interest in cults, this will be an interesting book for you I give it 5 stars, despite some of the excessive processing Highly recommended Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for allowing me an early look at this memoir This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads andnetgalley unfollow farrarstrausandgiroux meganphelps roper memoir cults Oh, my heart I simply adored this, and I absolutely adore Megan Review to come I received an ARC from the author Megan is a dear friend of mine, so my views might be slightly biased Please don t let this keep you from reading this beautiful memoir. This is not the first or even the second book that I ve read by someone who left Westboro Baptist Church One thing that I ve so appreciated about these books and about THIS book, by Megan is how the authors are able to show the multi dimentionality of their lives Neither Megan nor her family members are horrible people, nor are they blameless They are like all of us humans who are somewhat flawed but trying their best to do what they think is right, sometimes with horribly painful resu This is not the first or even the second book that I ve read by someone who left Westboro Baptist Church One thing that I ve so appreciated about these books and about THIS book, by Megan is how the authors are able to show the multi dimentionality of their lives Neither Megan nor her family members are horrible people, nor are they blameless They are like all of us humans who are somewhat flawed but trying their best to do what they think is right, sometimes with horribly painful results Megan does a great job of speaking transparently to that quandary This book, uniquely, is filled with KJV scriptures running like a constant commentary throughout Megan s life, offering explanation for the inexplicable Though the majority of the book centers on the lives of Megan and her immediate family during her time at Westboro, I was most interested in the story of her deconstruction the first thoughts she had that were contrary to her teaching and how she worked through her beliefs after leaving I do wish she had sharedabout her current beliefs, though it may be that her beliefs are still in flux She has interesting thoughts on political discourse in the Trump era, and I admire her desire to make a bridge for her WBC loved ones while expanding the idea of walking together, in spite of some disagreement.I wish her the absolute best in her efforts.I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which I am always happy to share NetGalley Unfollow This is not the first or even the second book that I ve read by someone who left Westboro Baptist Church One thing that I ve so appreciated about these books and about THIS book, by Megan is how the authors are able to show the multi dimentionality of their lives Neither Megan nor her family members are horrible people, nor are they blameless They are like all of us humans who are somewhat flawed but trying their best to do what they think is right, sometimes with horribly painful resu This is not the first or even the second book that I ve read by someone who left Westboro Baptist Church One thing that I ve so appreciated about these books and about THIS book, by Megan is how the authors are able to show the multi dimentionality of their lives Neither Megan nor her family members are horrible people, nor are they blameless They are like all of us humans who are somewhat flawed but trying their best to do what they think is right, sometimes with horribly painful results Megan does a great job of speaking transparently to that quandary This book, uniquely, is filled with KJV scriptures running like a constant commentary throughout Megan s life, offering explanation for the inexplicable Though the majority of the book centers on the lives of Megan and her immediate family during her time at Westboro, I was most interested in the story of her deconstruction the first thoughts she had that were contrary to her teaching and how she worked through her beliefs after leaving I do wish she had sharedabout her current beliefs, though it may be that her beliefs are still in flux She has interesting thoughts on political discourse in the Trump era, and I admire her desire to make a bridge for her WBC loved ones while expanding the idea of walking together, in spite of some disagreement.I wish her the absolute best in her efforts The subtitle provides the perfect summary of Megan Phelps Roper s new memoir, Unfollow This book gifted me with the most complete, most human, picture I ve ever had of the Westboro Baptist Church the church in which Megan, beloved granddaughter of Pastor Fred Phelps, grew up It is a well crafted description of Megan s formative years, her devotion to her family and church, and how the very values she was raised to cherish eventually led her away from both There were moments I was sick to my s The subtitle provides the perfect summary of Megan Phelps Roper s new memoir, Unfollow This book gifted me with the most complete, most human, picture I ve ever had of the Westboro Baptist Church the church in which Megan, beloved granddaughter of Pastor Fred Phelps, grew up It is a well crafted description of Megan s formative years, her devotion to her family and church, and how the very values she was raised to cherish eventually led her away from both There were moments I was sick to my stomach at the truly vile actions Westboro members took Yet the book forced me to hold, uncomfortably, the complex nature of humanity Many of us are familiar with the experience of having loved ones who are incredibly dear to us who, at the same time, contain depths of cruelty that we are not blind to.But I m a sucker for tales of transformation, and Megan s story, both written and lived, makes me optimistic Real, deep personal change is the process of a lifetime, and I like to hold out hope for even the worst of us The chapter on her grandfather s last days broke my heart wide open.Part of me believes in something like karma as well When Megan experienced the most profound rejection of her lifetime, she was forced to come face to face with the reality lived by those she had hurled vicious words at her entire life the LGBT community Their response to her coming out can only be described as divine.It was a book that only a Westboro insider could write I m so grateful she has chosen to take her experience and turn it into a public discussion of extremism and the dangers of silencing dissent This book is definitely joining my list of top reads for 2019 I will submit a full review after I read it but I m excited to obtain and read this book Megan and her family live where I grew up and I still have ties to the community I m exited I won a copy shocked honestly due to the amount of people who signed up and look forward to reading and submitting a review Thanks to Megan, her publisher, and GoodReads for sponsoring this giveaway I look forward to receiving my copy and will write a full review once I ve read the book. How does an unshakable belief system finally fall apart Megan Phelps Roper is intelligent, well read, raised in a loving family and in a community where everyone helps each other, oh and where they also celebrate AIDS as a punishment for homosexuality and they protest soldiers funerals every week with signs that say More Dead Soldiers Megan goes to public school and protests outside it during the lunch hour, then goes back in to join her classmates and finish the school day She s completel How does an unshakable belief system finally fall apart Megan Phelps Roper is intelligent, well read, raised in a loving family and in a community where everyone helps each other, oh and where they also celebrate AIDS as a punishment for homosexuality and they protest soldiers funerals every week with signs that say More Dead Soldiers Megan goes to public school and protests outside it during the lunch hour, then goes back in to join her classmates and finish the school day She s completely committed, on message, unquestioning, and devoting her life to the cause Then she gets on Twitter and starts having some conversations with people who actually listen and actually talk to her After she makes her escape which is beautifully and heartbreakingly told one of those people, now a dear friend, tells her, In a way, leaving Westboro Baptist Church was the most Westboro Baptist Church thing you could have done They re the ones who taught you to stand up for what you believe in, no matter what it cost you THEY taught you that They just never imagined you d be standing up to them That rings deeply true to me from my own experience, and it gets at the heart of this complicated story Megan doesn t shy away from any of the complexity of her story she s learned to embrace humility, doubt, and questioning and that makes the story so compelling At heart it s a book about the need to let people in, listen to them, and talk to them like human beings even when you disagree That s what changed Megan in the end It s something I used to do and believe in , in the pre Trump world, and it s a lesson I personally needed to hear