From the Publisher
“fathermothergod is a heart-wrenching coming of age memoir about the implosion of a family when Christian Science dogma encounters a mother's grave illness. It's impossible to read this and not put yourself in the author's shoes—this will take your breath away.”
—Lee Woodruff, author of Perfectly Imperfect and In an Instant
A riveting and heart-rending memoir, fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science exposes the monstrous feats of neglect fostered by this strange American manifestation of religious fanaticism. Tracing her mother’s decline and its lacerating consequences, Lucia Greenhouse knows the truth about Christian Science, and she tells it with passionate, righteous indignation.
—Caroline Fraser, author of God’s Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church
"Lucia Greenhouse's book is a heart-breaking reminder of how nefarious religious zealotry can be. Her story drew me in and blew me away. This is an important addition to the genre of memoirs by children who escaped religious hucksterism and are now bravely exposing it."
—Julia Scheeres, author of Jesus Land
“[A] powerfully affecting memoir . . . Greenhouse’s skill in rendering family relationships under the intersecting stresses of illness and conflicting beliefs make the book worthwhile . . . reading. Wrenchingly courageous.”
“Through this memoir, readers will see how even those closest to us can remain a mystery.”
“A touching book that puts a human face on Christian Science.”
“Rather than a journey out of a faith, this is the story of one woman’s questioning and anguish over her parents’ choices…. Teens wondering about their own faith, their parents’ expectations, and how to marry the two will find that this book resonates with them. It will also appeal to anyone wanting to know what it’s like to grow up in Christian Science…Suggest that readers have tissues close at hand.”
—School Library Journal
One afternoon just before she turns eight, Greenhouse returns home from school to find her older sister, Olivia, curled up asleep on the couch, covered with little red spots. Lucia anxiously asks her mother if Olivia has the chicken pox. Her mother stiffly replies that Olivia is not sick, because Olivia is God's perfect child. In this one moment, her family's deeply seated beliefs in Christian Science become crystal clear to little Lucia, and she wrestles mightily with these teachings in the pages of this often gripping, sometimes melodramatic memoir. Greenhouse's struggles come to a head when her mother falls gravely ill with cancer; in the early stages of her illness, Greenhouse's parents seek the aid of Christian Science healers. As her mother's health deteriorates rapidly, she is moved to a hospital for treatment, but this move is too little, too late. Greenhouse very weakly tries to resolve the tension between her own beliefs and the Christian Science teachings that she never embraced, and she never works out the anger and resentment she has toward her father for what she believes are his misguided and unloving actions toward her mother. (Aug.)
In her memoir, Greenhouse writes of being the child of parents who practiced Christian Science and her eventual falling away—she herself was never a member of the church. In recounting growing up in this household, she writes in the first-person present, so readers feel her confusion over the church doctrine that considers sickness and even death as "error." Her father's faith was strong enough that he becomes a Christian Science practitioner who treated other Christian Scientists through prayer. Greenhouse and her brother, not sharing the faith (an older sister did) rebelled in various ways. Despite their disagreements with their parents, the siblings agreed not to tell their extended family when their mother fell seriously ill. Greenhouse's mother finally agreed to be taken to a hospital, where she rallied for a short while before dying. Her death created rifts in the family, some that never fully healed. VERDICT Through this memoir, readers will see how even those closest to us can remain a mystery. Greenhouse's book is unlikely to be read by many practicing Christian Scientists. Those curious about the faith and those interested in stories of life's challenges, though, may find this a gratifying read. [See Prepub Alert, 2/7/11.]—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Lib., Wisconsin Rapids
In this powerfully affecting memoir, ex–Christian Scientist Greenhouse tells the story of how her parents' fervent adherence to their religion tore the family irrevocably apart.
From the outside, the author's comfortable Minnesota childhood seemed perfect. She and her two siblings grew up going to the best schools surrounded by a host of loving relatives. Unlike the other members of their extended family, however, the Ewingclan was different. They were Christian Scientists who did not believe in taking medicines of any kind, including aspirin. From an early age, the author was all too aware "of the difference between the way my family does things and the way other people do [them]," and of the irony that her mother was a doctor's daughter. Over time, her parents' beliefs deepened. Soon after the author's 13th birthday, the family moved to London so her father could become a Christian Science practitioner (or faith healer) and her mother a Christian Science nurse. Four years later, they returned to New Jersey where they found a home near a Christian Science care facility. Greenhouse became more openly rebellious, expressing her defiance by buying a pair of much-needed eyeglasses. When her mother became sick with a mysterious illness—a "little problem" later identified as cancer—underlying family tensions came to an explosive head. Both parents vehemently denied her mother's rapidly deteriorating condition. For nine horrific months, the author stood helplessly by as her mother fought her disease armed only with the belief that all illness was error. With its meditations on the many whys of this event, the narrative reads like a personal exorcism, but Greenhouse's skill in rendering family relationships under the intersecting stresses of illness and conflicting beliefs make the book worthwhile—but difficult—reading.