i joined the challenge at the Philogynist level: "read at least two books, including at least one nonfiction one." and i did it! i've never done a blog reading challenge, so i'm pretty excited to complete my first one successfully! :)
here's my review of The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd.
my sister (Eli at Need More Shelves!) told me to read this book years ago; i'm not really sure why it took me so long. i've never read The Secret Life of Bees, or any of S.M.K's other work, but i guess i should have known how well-written it would be. i don't know why that surprised me so much, but wow. this woman sure can paint a picture. i often have trouble getting psyched up to read non-fiction. i buy the book thinking 'oh, that sounds fascinating!' with great intentions of diving right in and expanding my mental acuity...and then i pick up a novel and never get back around to reading the non-fiction. it's a bad habit, i know. but from the minute i opened up this book i was right there with the author, word by word, minute by minute, wanting to find out what she said, thought and discovered next.
another surprise to me was the context of this book. sue monk kidd used to be an evangelical christian women's author. !! she was (in her words) a "good daughter" of the church. this book is the testimony of her transformation, transfiguration, reconstruction, her journey.
her story is funny, sad, scary and inspiring. it's the story of a feminist awakening. i got chills when i read the section, which was one of the turning points for the author, where she came upon her daughter being heckled by two men. she described feeling rage, indignation and an unwillingness for her daughter, any daughter, to experience a lifetime of subordination and patriarchal repression.
this is also a story about a religious awakening. the author's exploration of ancient religious traditions focusing on feminine symbols of divinity is fascinating- i ate it right up. couldn't get enough. it's just so...validating...to read the truth about the origins of modern religion and why/how the female-centered traditions were suppressed. validating to know that all those misgivings i've had aren't crazy. validating to know that there really are other women out there who question the 'our father's and 'in his image's we've heard for so long.
i can't even begin to do this book justice here. suffice it to say, S.M.K. describes a journey from complacency to the Sacred Feminine that isn't yet finished. her experience is not presented as a prescription, but rather as an example of one woman's experience, which is refreshing and inspiring. i don't necessarily agree with every final conclusion or choice of the author's, but that's ok. i DO feel a real connection and empathy with her journey, and an appreciation for the path she is blazing with courage.
i'm definitely a fan. there were some parts of this story that were, for me, a little bit hippy-dippy (i'm just too cynical, even when try not to be)...but generally speaking, there was something on just about every single page that resonated deeply with me.
do yourself a favor: read this book. especially if you grew up in the church and consider yourself in any way a feminist. you'll be glad you did. i sure am!