Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review: Girl Meets God

Girl Meets God
By Lauren F. Winner
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2002
296 pages
From the library

Girl Meets God: A Memoir

Lauren Winner has always been a spiritual girl. When she discovered that she was not truly considered Jewish because her father was the Jewish parent, she went to the mikvah and became a Jew. As she begins to immerse herself in her Jewish faith, she has a dream. This dream leaves her certain that Jesus Christ was the Messiah and that he was calling her to follow him. Girl Meets God is a collection of essays detailing the journey Lauren made from Judaism to Christianity and the many things the two faiths hold in common.

Lauren is a very affable narrator, in great part because she is honest about her own failings and questions. She recognizes that her friends feel that she is inconsistent and wonder if she might become a Buddhist next. She also admits her own downfalls, confessing her struggles with sex to a priest and explaining her mistaken idea that Christians would be better than their Jewish counterparts.

“I expected that, in Christendom, I would find an endless supply of, well, people just like me: devoted and hard-working intellectuals nobly spurning lucrative careers in law and medicine to hunch over desks in unheated, cramped garrets, furthering the pursuit of human knowledge and thinking rigorously about everything all the time. I was, of course, disappointed, in the church and in myself; Christians are just as anti-intellectual and materialistic as Orthodox Jews, and I’m no nobler than the rest.”

Ms. Winner also incorporates her own background, weaving history and literature throughout the book. The book is set up in short vignettes, following the liturgical calendars of both Christianity and Judaism. Some of them are specific to the holiday she is celebrating, but others are just snapshots of the ways in which her spiritual pursuits have changed her life. She’s my kind of girl, with her bookshelves overflowing and piles of books decorating every room in her apartment. One of my favorite passages is the one where Lauren refers to God as the first and greatest author.

“God is a novelist. He uses all sorts of literary devices: alliteration, assonance, rhyme, synecdoche, onomatopoeia. But of all these, His favorite is foreshadowing. And that is what God was doing at the Cloisters and with Eudora Welty. He was foreshadowing. He was laying traps, leaving clues, clues I could have seen had I been perceptive enough…Nothing came of the pamphlets, or the cross, or the midnight Mass, but that is how the clues God leaves sometime work. Sometimes nothing comes of them. Sometimes, as in a great novel, you cannot see until you get to the end that God was leaving clues for you all along.”

Girl Meets God is a great read for anyone who is passionate about their faith or anyone interested in spiritual memoirs. Lauren Winner is an engaging narrator and a talented writer. At its core, this memoir will remind you that it is ok to ask questions about your beliefs and that other people are walking the same path that you are traveling. 


  1. This sounds interesting - despite not being religious myself I have a weakness for religious memoirs. Here religion is a subject that you don't generally discuss, it's a private matter, so it's always interesting to read memoirs where religious thoughts are explored. Thanks for the recommendation :)

    1. That's so interesting. I know that in the US, the rule is supposed to be that you don't talk too much about religion or politics...but we seem to talk about them an awful lot anyway!