The Mormon Diaries traces the journey of the author Sonia L. Stone through her life as a Mormon woman to her eventual abandonment of Mormonism for a broader interpretation of Christianity. Written as a challenge to write daily about the author’s life experiences and expanded into 28 chronological essays, this book explores the reality of being a woman within the confines of Mormonism. As with all good memoirs, this story is about a journey, a period of time where the author challenges her preconceived notions and arrives at a new understanding.
Stone details her life growing up in a Mormon family; the challenges and comforts of growing up in a religion that provides a complete road map to life. As she writes “Everything important was drawn out for me through living prophets. All I had to do was use the thick, black marker of my choices to trace the lightly penciled sentences that were written by those with authority, who’d lived longer and knew better about my life’s purpose.”
Stone details the realities of life as a Mormon woman in a way that is very intimate and real. She relates her anxiety surrounding her baptism and testimony, the challenges of finding the right husband, as well as the manner in which her identity became wrapped up in being the nurturer, at the cost of her own needs and desires. There is a list of Mormon “Thou shalts” – starting with “Thou shalt keep the Sabbath day holy” and ending with “Thou shalt not doubt, ever” – that spans a full four pages and serves as a brilliant reminder of what the realities of living a Mormon life is like.
The author also tackle the thorny issue of leaving the Mormon Church – the dismay and confusion of loved ones, the strain that her journey left on her marriage, the delicate navigation of religion with her children. There is a deep thoughtfulness in this book, along with a lot of love for family and friends. Towards the end, the author bears her new and expanded testimony:
“I believe God loves me and that he can save everyone. I believe there’s light and goodness in all religions, in all traditions, and in all people.”