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Unfollow: Book summary and reviews of Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper

Unfollow

A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church

by Megan Phelps-Roper

Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper X
Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper
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  • Published Oct 2019
    304 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

The activist and TED speaker Megan Phelps-Roper reveals her life growing up in the most hated family in America.

At the age of five, Megan Phelps-Roper began protesting homosexuality and other alleged vices alongside fellow members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Founded by her grandfather and consisting almost entirely of her extended family, the tiny group would gain worldwide notoriety for its pickets at military funerals and celebrations of death and tragedy.

As Phelps-Roper grew up, she saw that church members were close companions and accomplished debaters, applying the logic of predestination and the language of the King James Bible to everyday life with aplomb―which, as the church's Twitter spokeswoman, she learned to do with great skill. Soon, however, dialogue on Twitter caused her to begin doubting the church's leaders and message: If humans were sinful and fallible, how could the church itself be so confident about its beliefs? As she digitally jousted with critics, she started to wonder if sometimes they had a point―and then she began exchanging messages with a man who would help change her life.

A gripping memoir of escaping extremism and falling in love, Unfollow relates Phelps-Roper's moral awakening, her departure from the church, and how she exchanged the absolutes she grew up with for new forms of warmth and community. Rich with suspense and thoughtful reflection, Phelps-Roper's life story exposes the dangers of black-and-white thinking and the need for true humility in a time of angry polarization.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Phelps-Roper's intelligence and compassion shine throughout with electric prose...She admirably explicates the worldview of the Westboro Baptist Church while humanizing its members, and recounts a classic coming-of-age story without resorting to cliché or condescending to her former self." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This memoir about growing up, coming out of denial and leaving the Westboro Baptist Church is written with such heart-wrenching tenderness and narrative control, you'll hang on every word even if you already know how it ends." - BookPage

"Eloquent and entirely candid, the book offers an intimate look at a controversial church while telling the moving story of how one woman found the courage to stand against the people and beliefs that she held dearest. A heartfelt and richly detailed memoir." - Kirkus Reviews

"A unique, engaging memoir peppered with Bible verses to help illustrate how dogma can both shape and distort the truth." - Library Journal

"Megan's story embodies the power of patience, listening, and empathy in this time of extreme intolerance and hatred of one's ideological enemies. It is, quite simply, exactly what the world needs right now." - Mark Duplass, actor and film director

"Megan Phelps Roper is a beautiful writer, and her journey―from the Westboro Baptist Church to becoming one of the most empathetic, thoughtful, humanistic writers around―is exceptional and inspiring. I met Megan shortly after she left her church. She said, 'I want to do good, but I don't know how.' With Unfollow, she's figured out how." - Jon Ronson, author of So You've Been Publicly Shamed and Them: Adventures with Extremists

This information about Unfollow was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Megan Phelps-Roper

Megan Phelps-Roper is a writer and activist. Formerly a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, she left the church in November 2012 and is now an educator on topics related to extremism and communication across ideological divides. She lives in South Dakota with her husband, Chad, and daughter, Sølvi.

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