Westover writes that her memoir “is not a story about Mormonism.” But John Durham Peters, an English professor at Yale who comes from a Mormon family and studied at Brigham Young University, is not buying it. I don’t know enough about Mormonism to know if Peters’s review of Westover is right, but it is certainly thought provoking.
Here is a taste:
Reviewers tend to treat Westover’s story as miraculous. They miss how classically Mormon it is. Rural-smart-kid-goes-to-fancy-university is a well-established cultural archetype, one present in my own family for several generations. Anytime anyone gets a PhD at any university it is a minor miracle, of course, and Westover’s path was more circuitous than most. But her book is a version of the classic Mormon story of the talented young person rising from obscurity to the highest levels. For Mormonism, such an ascent can go both ways—as affirmation or abandonment of the faith—and Westover fully wrestles with the profit and loss.
Read the entire review here.