My wife has little or no interest in reading books about the Bible, religion, or anything about Jehovah’s Witnesses. She thinks I’m obsessive in my research about the history and teachings of the Watchtower Society. Her eyes will start to glaze over about thirty seconds after I bring up the subject of my past life as a Jehovah’s Witness.
On the other hand, she loves to read. She’ll read for hours before going to sleep at night, and always urges me to read the books she finds interesting. While most of her favorite books are not to my taste, she has been able to point me to some really good novels and biographies that I’ve enjoyed reading over the past few years.
I can suggest that she read a book by Richard Dawkins or Bart Ehrman, but she never does. I was shocked when she agreed to read Kyria Abrahams’ JW memoir, I’m Perfect, You’re Doomed. She read most of it, but lost interest about 2/3 of the way through when Kyria changed the style and mood of her story. But like me, she really enjoyed reading the first half of I’m Perfect…
I can’t even remember who it was that first turned me on to Brianna Karp. Other than the fact that Brianna grew up in Southern California, I really had nothing in common with her. Look – I’m a retired grandfather living in Oregon with one foot in the grave – and she’s a young, vibrant, hot chick from “The OC” with her whole life ahead of her. The only thing we seemed to have in common was that we were both raised as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Someone’s tip pointed me to her new book, The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness. At first I thought – uh, a girl’s guide? Homelessness? Probably not a book for me. Not really interested. OK, she was a Jehovah’s Witness at one time – that might be interesting to read about. I could read the JW part and then toss the book or give it to the Goodwill. Maybe, like Kyria’s book, my wife might be interested in reading parts of it. But this was Miss Karp’s first book – and first books by non-writers are usually very, very bad.
And yet, for some reason I found myself intrigued by what I had read online about her book. I decided to contact her and ask if she had an advanced copy that I could borrow. If I liked it, I’d write a review for her. Because of her past connection to Jehovah’s Witnesses, I told her that it might get a mention here at Ex-JW.com.
We exchanged a couple of emails and she agreed to send me a pre-publication ARC version of the book. I promised to read it quickly and then return it to her. Sure enough, a few days later an advance copy of the book arrived in a plain gray postal envelope.
At first glance the cover really didn’t grab me – a young woman sits on the arm of a chair in the middle of an empty parking lot while dark gray storm clouds brood in the background. It certainly was not very “Jehovah’s Witnessy,” and at first glance, even a bit foreboding. Oh, no! I hoped this wasn’t another book about some depressed chick that drowns her troubles with drugs and alcohol because she thinks “no one loves her.”
I grabbed the book and found a comfortable seat – you know, one with a hole in the middle and the little handle on the side – to give myself a relaxed ten minutes or so to get acquainted with the book.
An hour later my legs had gone completely numb from sitting so long. From the very minute that I started reading it, I couldn’t put the book down. I had to call my good friend, author Richard Kelly. “Dick – you’ve got to read this book by this JW girl who lives near Riverside. Let me see if I can get her to send you a copy. This is really good!” I think he knew I was on to something unique.