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9/23/09

i'm blonde and never got drunk growing up, which is why i got to marry a return missionary, instead of a convert.

Recently, I talked about adolescent (or YA) books I enjoyed, and I promised to tell you about a few I hated. Then I started thinking about it, and I didn't actually hate any of the books I read, I either just didn't like them very much.*

In fact, the only books I truly and honestly despise are ones by Jack Weyland. Not because the writing is mediocre (though it is,) but because each and every book is filled with Mormon-Myth Non-Truths parading around as doctrine, and filling young impressionable minds with terrible ideas about what it means to be a Mormon, or a Mormon woman.

How do I know this? I will tell you. When I was 12, my English teacher caught me reading Angela's Ashes in class. She reported me to my mother, who in turn found herself in the predicament of finding her voracious reader child suitable reading material. (Angela's Ashes is not suitable.) She found Jack Weyland.

Now, before you think about criticizing my Mom, it is important to note that she didn't intend to give me false doctrine masquerading as literature. She just went to Deseret Book, asked the nice lady for some recommendations for her 12 year old daughter, and went on her merry way.

Furthermore, she also provided me with lots of excellent YA literature, which I still treasure.

Anyway, So I ended up reading a lot of Jack Weyland in my youth. A LOT. Most of them had titles like Mandy, Jessica, Taylor, Nicole, Charly (of course,) Dawn, Rebbecca, Debra and Michelle, Every 1980's Girl Name You Can Think Of, and even one called Stephanie. Stephanie was about a girl who dares to try and have a newscaster career, and feel attracted to a non-member, and is subsequently burned in a freak ramen-cooking accident that leaves her disfigured but humbled. Until a return missionary dumps his conceited and unchaste brunette girlfriend for her. But don't worry, her mom and friends made sure to curl her blonde hair, and give her lots of make-up tips, so that she wasn't too ugly and therefore deserving of a husband.

Anyway, I "learned"a lot about life and Mormonism According to Weyland thanks to Jack. Including, but not limited, to the following tidbits of wonder:


1. Blonde girls are righteous. Brunettes are slutty. (Half of all Weyland Novels.)

2. If you sleep with a man before marriage, you can repent, and get married in the temple, but ONLY to a convert who has not served a mission. The atonement only covers so much, people! (Debra and Michelle.)


3. If you are a woman, and trying to pursue a career, SOMETHING BAD WILL HAPPEN TO YOU. Your marriage will fail, you will get burned, or you will sleep with a guy before getting married and then have to marry a convert. (Stephanie, Sam, Charly.)

4. Converts are not as good as born-in-the-faith Mormons. Obviously. (Brittany(?) Stephanie, Charly,)


5. Potentially Dangerous Girl Careers include selling make-up or dresses, or elementary education. These are fine when engaged or first married, but once you get pregnant (hopefully right away,) YOU MUST STOP. SEE NUMBER 3.

6. Girls are horny she-devils who like to get drunk and be bad influences on righteous young men. They should be avoided by return missionaries, and left for those nasty converts not smart enough to be born Mormon. (I am pretty sure this is from Brittany, as well as several others.)

7. Similarly, all non-Mormon boys are mini Anti-Christs bent on leading chaste young blonde Mormon girls astray.

I was recently explaining this concept to my friend, who remained skeptical about the crappiness of everything Jack Weyland. I briefly thought that I may have judged them too harshly (wouldn't be the first time,) until I was lent a copy of Sam by a well-meaning neighbor.

I skimmed the copy for a few minutes, before hiding it under a pile of phonebooks. I have a problem where I have to finish every book I start, but I knew if finished Sam I would kill myself with a dull spork.

I think the part where the wife pleads with her estranged husband to "Use your Priesthood to tell me what to do, I don't want to make decisions anymore, since my stubborness has clearly ruined our marriage," and he responds by telling her she "must quit her job and have his babies, because her working is causing God to curse his business" sent me into a 3 day long rage cured only by West Wing and copious amounts of chocolate.


Anyway, the moral of the story is this. Angela's Ashes is not appropriate for 12 year olds. Neither is any Jack Weyland book. Ever.




*I will talk about those other books, but I started talking about Jack Weyland and just couldn't stop. I clearly have deeply rooted issues, and thank all of you who read through this for participating in this session of e-therapy. I think we have achieved a major break-through today.






Update: Apparently the book I thought was called Stephanie is really called Emily. Stephanie is about one of those heathen girls who is addicted to diet coke, I mean, drugs.

43 comments:

Melinda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melinda said...

This so explains my life. If only I'd paid more attention to Jack Weyland...

b. said...

Yes we have my friend...Yes.We.Have.

Hilary said...

You know the problem with this post, don't you? I'm now so freakishly curious about Jack Weyland books that I may well go and put them all on hold at the library and read them over a few afternoons. Now look what you've done . . . I hope you're proud of yourself.
:-)
(I personally only remember reading 'Charly', but I have issues with blatant emotional manipulation and it makes me want to throw books across the room, so I may not have finished it . . . )

Brandi said...

Awesome! Now when my husband gently suggests a part time job when the kids are all in school I'll have a better excuse than "It'll cut into my internet time." I mean, I don't want to be disfigured in a Ramen accident.

So, is there a male equivalent to this? I'm just wondering what my husband (who was smart enough to be born into the faith and is a returned missionary) did to deserve a brunette like me.

The Boob Nazi said...

Not gonna lie, some of number 6 describes me pretty well.... I mean, what??? (Except I don't get it. How can all girls be horny she-devils? Who do the righteous boys marry?)
I think it's kind of funny that the blondes are the chaste ones and the brunettes are the bad ones. Isn't the stereotype normally the other way around?
And this is why, when my mother gave me those books, I read them once and then might have accidentally gotten them soaking wet and was never able to read them again.
I can't remember which one she gave me.... I feel like it might be Sam. (Is that the sleeping with a guy before marriage one?) I shudder remembering that book.

heidikins said...

I only read one Every 1980's Girl Name You Can Think Of book, and hated it with a fiery passion. I would rather read the back of a cereal box.

Luckily, my mom never bought me Jack Weyland books...sadly, she never introduced me to Angela's Ashes, one of my all-time favorites.

xox

Jane of Seagull Fountain said...

Are those real quotes? I'm pretty sure I read a couple Jack Weyland, and don't remember them being THAT bad. But maybe I was too naive to realize the insidious evil...

Lacy E. (as in Eloise, formerly Lee) said...

Ah, the Jack Weyland! I used to gobble him up as a girl. His subject matter (those slutty brunettes) was serious salaciousness for a preteen mormon.

Smedley's said...

Amen.

mommy dearest said...

You forgot all the Left Behind books we bought written by the evangelicals. I compeletly warped your sweet spirit. At twelve we should of stayed with Angela's Ashes and Memoirs of a Geisha.

gurrbonzo said...

BAHAHA! How much of this is made up??

Lisa Louise said...

ah that explains everything, I'm a brunette and therefore must be slutty and maybe be lucky enough to marry a convert! I should have read these books sooner :)

Meredith said...

AMEN!!!

AMEN AMEN AMEN.

Sarah and I make fun of it all the time.

Not only are they full of such similar lame ideas, but the cheesiness is CRIMINAL.

My favorite from Lean on Me:

Girl talking to bulemic little sister: "You know you're killing yourself. Don't you?? [Italics] DON'T YOU?!"

Barf.

Also I vaguely remember a guy coming back and pursuing the main character after his mission because he had a dream of them in white. If those sorts of dreams meant anything, Rufus Wainwright would be straight and we'd be married living in the Virgin Islands. So there.

Ug.

P.S. Did you know Jack Weyland lives around the corner from my cousins in Rexburg and AFTER he wrote all that shit his teenage daughter got knocked up? TRUE STORY.

Stephanie said...

not enough gurr, NOT ENOUGH.

they aren't real quotes (the sarcastic commentary is all me) but the general plotlines are true. as are i think the underlying messages.

and mom, DON'T DISS LEFT BEHIND. i freaking love those books. i am still convinced that the rapture will happen, and i won't need food storage, because i will eat the harvest of the righteous.

LovelyLauren said...

Oh my goodness, this is so true! I once read one when at my Grandma's house because she had no young adult books.

And people complain about Twilight. I think I read Stephanie, you know, the "good mormon girl" that gets sucked down a deep spiral of drugs and partying....something like that.

And no, she isn't making this up.

Katie said...

I so adore you. Luckily I was never caught reading age inappropriate material. My best friend's mother might have even pushed some my way.

I can honestly say that I've never read any Jack Weyland material. I think this means I'm guaranteed a place in the celestial kingdom...if it weren't for my accursed brunette hair. But, I guess I now know where all the sluttiness comes from.

Do you think the atonement will overlook that if I dye it blond for the rest of my days?

Or maybe I could reach purgatory if I went auburn?

PS I love the Left Behind series too.

NIKOL said...

I've never read anything by Jack Weyland. Thanks to your post, I now have a morbid curiosity.

I'm blonde, but I married a convert who didn't serve a mission. I'm sure you can read between the lines. Hee!

Lena said...

I never read anything by Jack Weyland. But I think your reasoning is also why I have not read anything by Anita Stansfield. Just not up to being preached to by fictional characters. I get enough of that reading Dan Brown.

JustMe said...

Thank you so much Steph, for pointing out once again, why I will never be the "perfect Mormon mom". I have never even heard of Jack Weyland.

Bad mother that I am, I encouraged my young daughter to read "The Price of Tides". No Mormon themes, just themes about adultery, suicide, dead babies, and so many other improper things going on in that book. In my defense, I did refuse to let her see the movie because no one should have to see Barbara Streisand in a movie.

Becca said...

My friend growing up read lots of Jack Weyland. She was blond, stuied the practical major of music perfomrance, and married a RM.

I in my heathen brunette-ness refused to major in teaching or music (I did science/pharmacy much to the disagreement of my bishop), seriously dated an excommunicated mormon (trust me those are much worse than converts) and ended up being a stay at home mom married to a RM Mormon born husband.

I would have fit the mold had I been unchaste, and gotten in some disfiguring accident at work. Instead I married a younger man, made more money than him for years, and bought our first house less than a year after getting married. Yes, people should be jealous of my slutty brunette ways. I got it all.

Pooh said...

I distinctly remember raiding Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. books from my dad's bookshelf at 11, and no one much cared that I'd read everything he'd published at that point by the time I was 13. Talk about age-inappropriate reading material! Of course, both my parents are brunette converts who never went on missions, so I guess that pretty much explains everything about me...

AzĂșcar said...

I absolutely LOOOVVVEED Jack Weyland when I was a 12 year old. Only my parents, because they are right-thinking and not prone to putting up with nonsense, didn't encourage me reading them. I read his short story collections. I aspired to read Charly, et. all.

I remember my mom had Jack's son in her class at BYU. She was SO EXCITED to introduce me and proclaimed me to be Jack's BIGGEST FAN. I had to mumble under my breath when I was 12, mom!

Julie T. B. Hansen said...

Just a thought that doesn't have THAT much to do with your post, but kind of triggered a "soap-box" like response from me...

I think its interesting how quick to juge books people (Mornons...coughMYMOTHERcough) can be. I don't see a problem with books containing controversial (sometimes dark/not uplifiting) material. Good and evil are the time-honored forces of a well-written story. A story needs a conflict. A problem. Something to work through. You can't have a "good" story without including "evil." They are opposites that when linked together, actually compliment eachother. And not to get all cheesy here, but isn't there a scripture that says there is "opposition in all things"??

A book is not unworthy of attention because it contains topics that stir controversial human emotions. If anything--books that stir those kinds of emotions, are the books MOST worthy of attention.

I just can't stand it when someone says "that's not appropriate to be reading." Who are you to tell me what I should and shouldn't be reading? And who are you to be the judge on good literature?? Have you even read this book?!

I'm reminded of Nazi Germany when brightly lit bonfires consumed mountainous piles of books, all because they were deemed to be "innapropriate" according to someone else's conflicting interpretation of "art."

Okay, that's a little dramatic here, but you get the point.

I LOVE BOOKS. Period. No appologies, no excusese. I LOVE BOOKS. ALL books. Even the "bad mormon" books. I enjoy a well-written book with an intriguing plot summary, no matter the content.

And lastly, to be fair, I personally have never read the Weyland books (I think I made a sad attempt to read Charly at one point, but got through a couple chapters and lost interest). That being said, I can't really judge the books. Feel free to establish your own opinions there...

Okay, I'm done.

[stepping off soap box.]

James McOmber said...

Don't diss Jack Weyland. His books sent me on a mission, cured my addiction to sex (read: making out), healed me after I listened to a 311 song with both raucous rap beats AND the a-word, made Dr. Pepper not taste good, got rid of my boner, stopped my hand from raising in Gospel Doctrine, and renewed my temple recommend.

Stephanie said...

i feel like i need to defend my mom/myself here, because she of course she encouraged me to read other books, which were well written and meaningful, on both the YA and adult level.

and while i know that books do need to have conflict, i DO think it is important to be thoughtful in what books you introduce to your TWELVE YEAR OLD. angelas ashes is a noteworthy book, but i know i was not mature enough at 12 to handle some of the themes presented in the book. at leat not on my own. right-minded people wouldn't take their 3 year old to see "saving private ryan" and equally right-minded people would make sure their child was mature and emotionally ready to tackle angelas ashes.

also, my mom didn't encourge me to read everything weyland wrote. she bought me one book, and i got ahold of the rest myself. i too was addicted to the DRAMA.


(ok, glad we cleared all that up.)

Pooh said...

Julie B., since you mentioned your cough*mother*cough, PUHLEEZE, for the love of all things holy, do NOT tell her or your grandmother that I am a Vonnegut lover. Chances are good they don't know who he is, but I just can't take the risk... ;P

Plain Jame said...

**snort laughing**

Amanda said...

Why is Angela's Ashes unsuitable?

Stephanie said...

amanda- if i recall, there was a pretty explicit sex scene that my 12 year old self was a little thrown off by.

i don't think it is unsuitable for adults, or even more mature teenagers.

but yeah, if your are a innocent little 12 year old mormon girl, THAT scene might throw you a little. i might have been okay if i had been prefaced for it, but i had no idea what i was getting into when i took the book of my mom's nightstand.

Aunt Spicy said...

So the only thing I have in common with these characters is that I am blond (thanks to my hairdresser, but she will back me up that that is my original color). That is it. But wow, so super glad I never read those books...I have issues enough as it is...though, Mr Weyland might be surprised to find out that none of my issues come from the fact that I have a BA and MA, have an amazing career, have only dated non-members/converts, and am still single. Gosh, I sound like a perfect character for his books on what a good LDS girl does NOT want to become. And now I have shared too much.

Chi-townRawlins said...

Pooh is my sister. So, you know, ditto. All of it:)
My husband just read Slaughterhouse 5 and was all, "You were HOW OLD when you read KVJ?"
Though, I'm pretty sure I did read a Weyland-esque novel at one time. And it came straight out of Pooh's hope chest after she left for BYU. I don't remember the title, but the plot was about an obese girl who loves the RM next door, but he doesn't pay any attention to her until she loses weight. Then he loves her...something along those lines. Classy stuff.

Pooh said...

I have no memory of actually reading that book you mention, Chi-Town - who really lives in Dallas, and really wishes she lived in Pittsburgh, so let that be a lesson to all to choose your blog name carefully - but I do confess to reading a couple of novels of the Charlie's Monument sort (actually a good one, even if cheesy) that came from MOM's side of the bookshelf...

Natalia said...

This makes me want to read Weyland just so that I can complain about him

Kimbooly said...

So. I wrote a super long message saying that I actually have a differing opinion about Jack Weyland, but Blogger is snotty and only takes a total of 4,096 characters, so I'll email you my full comments and the rest of the readers will just have to wonder. Ha! ; )

Anyway, my point was that I thought they were fun and quick reads even though they're not great literature and can be cheesy. And I liked the silly dating ideas that some of the characters did in his books. And I actually got things out of the books about understanding the gospel better and actually dropping stereotypes and understanding people as they are, not what some perceive a "good" mormon to be like.

So. My two cents. Well, really, more than 4,096 cents, if you count a penny per character.... ; )

Oh. And P.S.--I still don't like anything I've read from the Twilight series; the few chapters I read from one book sounded like a romance novel full of internal and external dialogue of her wanting to be wrapped up in his arms. And not well-written. Just my opin-ee-one. So, I agree w/ you there.

Kimbooly said...

Ok, so what I got (or didn't get) from Weyland's books:

1. Don't think I noticed the ratio of good/slutty vs. blonde/brunettes. See #7-8 if you're not super lazy, like me, who's too lazy to type about it twice.

2. Um, are you crazy? Did we read the same books? See #4!*

3. Ouch. Didn't notice this (the "girl + work instead of meekly marrying or staying home once prgnant = bad" message), though I will admit that in Sam, it implied that the wife working was destroying the marriage, even though it isn't, if you read what the real issue is--it's Sam's pride that is destroying the marriage (same pride caused him a lot of problems with his first marriage, too). Has nothing to do with her being a great dress-seller. And later she happens to work with him, which is something they enjoy doing together.

4!! I got the complete opposite from Weyland's books, that the atonement is all-encompassing and complete, and that characters in Weyland's book who didn't get that actually have to "get it," before they can move on. And that we're all just as good as each other, no matter whether we're a convert or not, a sinner or not, etc. Now, I can't recite the books specifically as I haven't read most of them in probably 15 years, but Charly quite impacted me where Sam thought she wasn't as good because she was a convert, and he was WRONG.

5. While in Charly (the one I remember best) they did want to get pregnant "right away," I never got the impression that it was some sort of doctrine that I was being taught to follow, just what these two characters wanted to do. But seriously, I missed the whole vein of teaching that it's wrong to have a job once you've had a baby. Totally missed it!

6 & 7. Totally missed these, too. Didn't watch the ratio of non-mormon/horny & bent on leading astray good little kids. I'll have to look closer if I ever read any Weyland books again for all these stereotyped themes.

Which is funny since I kept getting the impression that characters in Weyland's books were learning NOT to stereotype, but to see people for who they are, all sons and daughters of the same God who created us, too.


*and by "crazy," OF COURSE you know that I mean it "in a good way," right? ; ) (tongue in cheek should have its own font. So should friendly sarcasm and out-and-out brattiness, which my brat-factor is up right now, if only you could see the teasing gleam in my eye!)

**Random--my wordiness, once again, prevails. We'll see whether blogger likes me when I try to post this one....**

Musings of the Mrs. said...

Now I know why I had no luck finding a nice mormon husband when I converted. They all must've read these books. This is one of the saddest mormon posts ever.

Julie T. B. Hansen said...

*Pooh* Mums the word! Trust me... there is a whole secret life I live that my mother (not to mention grandmother) know nothing about.

Lets just keep it that way...

*Steph* You definitely have a point. I haven't read Angela's Ashes, but I will agree... somethings are not age appropriate for younger children. Still, I think my standard for what is appropriate for younger audiences is probably a little bit more lax. That might change someday, when I have my own kids, of course... we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Becky said...

funny!

Allison said...

I realize I'm late to the party here, but being a teacher-turned-SAHM has opened up new doors of internet loveliness with my newfound time (hear you on the grading. Labs were THE WORST). I began with the rainbows-out-the-ass craft blogs, got sick of feeling inadequate, and was referred to your friend Gurrbonzo's blog (I'm in love). From there I found yours, and now feel polygamous.

I had to comment on this particular post because of your mentioning of strong teens who love to make out. I laughed at it, thought I'd go along my merry way, then as I was doing the dishes, I realized I could actually write my experience as a strong Mormon (brunette, thank you) dating my still-incredible-never-will-regret-it nonmember boyfriend senior year and into college (long distance was its sole demise). I serve in the YW now and I hear you on wanting to encourage good literature, but it doesn't have to be cheesy. Personally, I've never read Jack Weyland (not even Charly!) and after reading this, am very happy with that decision. I was more of a Shakespeare and Babysitter's Club kind of gal, but I just wanted to thank you for the inspiration. I have dreams of writing a book one day, and see no reason why I can't use my own story. What do they call those - memoirs? heh.

Oh, and if what Meredith said about Weyland's daughter getting knocked up is true, I'm secretly gleeful. I have secret, unsuppressable desires that one of my self-righteous sister-in-law's daughters will go and get promiscuous before marriage just to irk her mom. Dang. I just realized they're both blond. There goes that dream.

Awesome post - keep 'em coming.

Brittany said...

I almost pissed myself just a wee bit reading this post because of my deep and psychological connection with this man. At BYU I took a YA lit class and we had to do presentations on an author of YA lit, of course. I couldn't think of anyone for awhile, and then it hit me like a brick of tons. Jack! I'd been scarred by him since my preteen years; why not literally share my ambivalent feelings with the class?
Strangly enough, the man himself was in Sandy, UT not two days before I gave my presentation. I emailed him prior to meeting him and he responded to my questions. When I did meet him in person, he signed a book for me. His wife chatted me up, trying to get me to agree that his book "Cheyenne in New York" should have been called "Cheyenne is in New York." Oh man, it was priceless.
And yet, it's a lot harder to hate someone in person, especially when they're so accomadating in giving you info as to why they write such douchey stories. I love him but I hate him. I love that he tries to show that Mormons struggle with "normal people" problems. I hate that he fails to do so. And yet, the hatred only fuels my fascination. The last time I was in the BYU library, I couldn't help but go to Weyland's Corner, shake my head in disgust, and immediatley start skimming "The Samaritan Bueno." Yes the title is tragic, but that would be fodder for another comment entirely.

Lisa-Lou-Who said...

I have to brag and say that I am a born-in-the-church woman and I have never read a Jack W. Novel. Maybe its because I didn't grow up in Utah. I'm glad though because that stuff is TRASH!

Laura Hatch said...

I laughed when I read this- even as a kid I was always unsettled by Jack Weyland books. You have nailed it! Did you ever feel really really angry at the parents in those books? block-heads every one of them.