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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Until I left high school, most of my teachers were nuns, not to mention a source of fascination. What did they wear to bed at night? Are they bald under those black veils? What do they confess if they don’t even sin? As a young teacher, I worked with and learned a lot more about nuns, but only after I read Secrets of a Nun: My Own Story by Elizabeth Upton, could I conclusively say that nuns are, indeed, very human! Upton’s journey from becoming a nun to leaving took 21 years, beginning when she was only 16. In an utterly honest voice that shares every emotion, and the more hidden, natural urges a young teen feels, Upton opens up to readers in her memoir. We feel every battle with herself and her superiors that resulted from her choice to dedicate her life to God.
Becoming a nun is far from easy. Personal interaction between nuns is discouraged. Nuns in superior positions take their religious fervor and powerful roles to extremes, and the degree of dedication required would try anyone’s strength and patience. Then, of course, there’s the difficulty younger nuns experience denying their attraction to the opposite sex, as celibacy is not just demanded of Catholic priests! I loved the honesty with which Elizabeth Upton shares such emotional and physical details. That takes courage. Readers need to bring an open mind to Secrets of a Nun. Those who see normal urges as sinful might be offended by Upton’s frankness. The rest of us will applaud Upton’s decision to write a tell-all about her life as a Catholic nun. It is a memoir I recommend to any young woman contemplating donning the veil. Read this memoir long before you take those final vows.