Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review of "More than the Tattooed Mormon"

I had been interested in the story of Al Carraway ever since I saw her on the cover of LDS Living ( a magazine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). She stood out because of her many tattoos (although after reading her book she would not care to hear that), and I knew that something was different about her. So, when I saw her book More than the Tattooed Mormon on Amazon, I jumped at the chance to read it, and I am glad that I did.

The book is divided into two sections and starts off with Al telling her story, which outlines her childhood and growing up in upstate New York, meeting LDS missionaries, her journey to the state of Utah, trying to fit in as a new convert, and her marriage to her husband Ben. The second section is a quasi-coaching section, one that is focused more on the reader than on Al's story, though her story is mixed into showing how a principle works.

Several things stand out about this book. First, Al is a thorough-going optimist, and that comes through every page of the book. Even when she describes some of her darker moments, such as being rejected by her family and friends after her conversion to the LDS Church (thankfully not forever), you can still tell that she is smiling through the tears.

While Al is an optimist, she is still a very real person, admitting her weaknesses and fears to her readers. For example, she mentions that she often yelled at God when she was frustrated with how things were going in her life (she is much braver than I am, I couldn't yell at God). Also, she talks openly about being a sort of social outcast after coming to Utah due to her tattoos. As a black member of the LDS Church, I too know that some members (luckily not most) can be insensitive and make you question whether joining the Church or moving to Utah were big mistakes. Luckily, she knew what she wanted and was able to push through it.

There is one flaw in her book, and that flaw is ironically the strength of the book. As I mentioned, Al is an optimist, and we can see why through reading her book; while she had many struggles, in the end it all worked out. Her family has become friendly with her, people began to accept her, she got married, and she is now somewhat of a celebrity. I am glad that this happened, but I would remind her that this does not happen for everyone. Some families turn their backs forever, some are eternal outcasts, and some die alone. While optimism has a place and is a virtue, so are skepticism and pessimism, because reality lies there most of the time. However, Al does point this out in the end, but it is done very briefly and it could have been discussed more.

Overall, Al's book is worth the read and your spirit will be uplifted. You will find yourself laughing, crying, smiling, and having more hope in the future by the time you finish the book. I look forward to Al's next book which will be released in the fall, Cheers to Eternity.

1 comment:

  1. Tarik,
    Thanks for your review of Al Carraway's book. It has made me want to buy it and read it, which I will do. Mel