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Free to Be: How I Went From Unhappily Married Conservative Bible Believer to Happily Divorced Atheistic Humanist in One Year and Several Complicated Steps Kindle Edition
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Thoughtful, analytical and endlessly questioning, Williams is determined to take nothing for granted. There is nothing here that has not been rigorously tested and appraised before it can be trusted or embraced, whether it is from her traditional religious upbringing or from the newer reasoning platform that emerges as the story unfolds. If only more of us did that.
This analysis is very well handled, never drifting into hyperbole, waffle and obsession – quite an art in itself. Williams never portrays herself as a tragic heroine, commendably, and there is no spin in her favour. She is as touchingly forgiving to her protagonists as she is suspicious of the natural temptation to sail under new flags.
I think she could write first-class fiction given that her emotional scenarios are portrayed with such a lean and flowing clarity. Her descriptions of the day-to-day minutiae on the farm are also both charming and informative.
Being such a personal journey you are left hoping for the best for the author, not to mention all the other personalities involved. Good things come from the worst of times – hopefully in this case it will be more writing from a highly accomplished scribe.
I couldn't help but think, however, that there are 3-4 books here. Because she touches on so many issues, there's not a lot of depth to her analysis. For example, it was her own study of the Bible that convinced her it couldn't be true. That led to Deism, and eventually to atheism. But this journey is presented in stops and starts, not as a coherent whole. It was only at the very end of the book that we see some of her thought processes in a bit more detail, as she tried to make sense of inconsistencies in the Old and New Testament. This was fascinating, but I had hoped there would be much more of this. It was included as almost an afterthought, or so it seemed to me. But that entire thought process was the main reason I purchased the book in the first poace! I really wanted to learn more about how that all happened.
The breakup of her marriage was another theme. I had assumed religion was a big reason for this: her conversion to atheism drove a wedge between her and her ex husband. But that wasn't the case at all. But again, we didn't really learn about that until the very end of the book. We also learn, again at the end of the book, that her ex was a major driver in helping her reexamine her religious views, which eventually led to her abandonment of Christianity. That almost seemed out of character for her ex husband, as I had assumed he was more of a slacker, intellectually and physically, not someone who would take the initiative and try to understand more, at least based on her earlier writings.
I was also surprised about the omission of her kids. We hear a lot about them in general terms, she has clearly made them a focal point in her life, she comes across as a fantastic mother. And seven kids, all homeschooled! So how did they manage this tumultuous year, with divorce, their mother's spiritual conversion, and a new partner that now lives with them? Going from an extremely religious environment, which they had known their entire lives, to a more humanistic one must have caused a lot of confusion, at least for the older kids, or not? It was never really discussed. How did their homeschooling curriculum change, or did it? Seems like a huge omission.
I believe this is the author's first book, and it's a great initial effort. It's amazing she was able to put this together after all she has gone through. You have to admire her strength and determination. I hope she writes more. I'm sure she will have many more adventures as an atheist raising her family in the middle of the Bible Belt. I only hope future efforts are a bit more focused, because I think there is a lot more she can say about these topics, if she only limits herself a bit to one big theme, and really fleshes it out.
Also, she could seriously use a good editor. There are many grammatical and typographical errors.