Author: Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye
Publisher: Neal A. Maxwell Institute and Deseret Book
Date of Publication: 2019
Pages: 276 including notes
Dr. Inouye has written an outstanding memoir. The book is a mixture of erudition, humor, memoir, faith statement and much, much more. Dr. Inouye writes from her heart and this book is a very personal statement of her life as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In this volume she addresses difficult, current topics for members of the church. Topics such as LGBTQ issues, millennials, polygamy, church patriarchy and the sacredness of motherhood are a sampling of the issues addressed.
The refreshing aspect of the book is that each topic is treated honestly, with humor, but also with respect. As the reader, one quickly ascertains the thought and pondering the author has put into the book. When I say a topic is treated honestly, Dr. Inouye is forthright and humble in recognizing some issues don’t currently have answers. Patriarchy in the church is a building concern, especially for girls and young women of today. This generation of young women and girls are bright, educated and find it hard to see why when they go to church, the seats behind the podium are generally filled with men in white shirts and ties. These women notice that young men are the only ones allowed to administer the sacrament while they sit by. These are issues that are not going to go away by ignoring them. The church is losing young people because of the views and perspectives of youth. In this issue, these does not seem to be a satisfactory answer now.
Part of the enchantment of this book is the travelogue that is woven into the fabric of the book. Dr. Inouye is a professor of Chinese History and has spent much of her adult life with her husband and four children in China and New Zealand. This gives the author a unique perspective on how the church functions outside of Salt Lake City or Provo, Utah. She intersperses a running dialogue on raising a family in the gospel while surviving and thriving in a very non-church world.
Dr. Inouye brings a very satisfying zest to the roles of being a parent, an academic, a faithful member of her church, as well as an active participant in her community. She is also a cancer patient. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017. During chemotherapy her hair fell out, yet with characteristic wit and faith, she traverses that journey of medical uncertainty, as well. She is open about the fear felt at the diagnosis, about her efforts to find God’s grace in her life and to extract meaning from it all.
Yet the book is not about cancer. The mention of her cancer does not shop up until 3/4 of the book has been read. The book is about life and living that life in a faith tradition that is glorious, trying, faith-promoting and faith-stretching. It is a memorable volume for many reasons. I invite you to find the book and slowly read it. Put it down and think about its ideas. Pick the book back up again and read some more. This is a wonderful, thought-provoking volume. Again, read this book. You will find the joy of living in it.