The Book Corner – The Know-It-All Girl

Joanna Foreman chronicles her escape from the clutches of a high-control religious movement

If you’re a woman, you’re going to love this book. If you’re a guy, you are also in for a treat—a vicarious ride. Joanna Foreman is a gifted storyteller who knows how to engage her readers. You will laugh and giggle. You will cry. Not a lot, but you will shed a few tears. And you will THINK! Why the dickens did it take Joanna so long before she decided to check out of the insane asylum?

The Know-It-All Girl chronicles the life of a young girl who is molded by a loving, caring mother and a high-control religion which dictates her almost every move. When she has the emergent need for a blood transfusion following the birth of her third child, she refuses the treatment and survives to proudly wear her badge of honor among fellow Witnesses. Doubts slowly creep in, but she keeps these secret until Emma, her best friend of twenty-five years, also refuses a transfusion—with tragic results. It wasn’t cancer that killed Emma—it was her religion. The lies and back-stabbing that ensue immediately after Emma’s death allow Joanna to finally see the real truth. She perseveres and endures, emerging from this cultish movement stronger and wiser.

Joanna survives refusing a blood transfusion, but her friend is not so fortunate

After I read The Know-It-All Girl, I thought about Socrates and his advice, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Joanna must have had that in mind when she first contemplated writing this book, a tell-it-all memoir about a know-it-all girl — a well-written eye-popping life story, unlike anything you have ever read.

But Joanna is no preacher or Socrates-wanna-be philosopher. She is a talented writer with a most unusual, comedic story to tell about a girl and a woman who must navigate through life in a high-control religious environment, in a Cuckoo’s Nest world. If you’ve been there, done that, and you’re a woman, you will be able to relate. If high-control religion the way Jehovah’s Witnesses play the game is foreign to you, be prepared for an entertaining education.

This book is not a story of blame and resentment. Yes, there are the side-effects of forty-five years of cult life, but Joanna honors the positive aspects as well. It’s the rich imagery of the characters that will dazzle you, such as Joanna’s imaginary friend Dainy, her best friend Emma and the fun-loving, sometimes ditzy Joanna who waltzes her way through life.

I also want to add that The Know-It-All Girl could have only been written by a woman. It’s the kind of book I wish my sister Marilyn could have read before her untimely death. She, like Joanna and I, was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness—in a cult that treats women as second-class citizens, and operates under the premise that women are created by God for the purpose of serving men as helpmates. Reading Joanna’s story would have been an inspirational experience for Marilyn, as I believe it will be for any reader.






Richard E. Kelly is the author of Growing Up In Mama’s Club, and The Ghosts From Mama’s Club, which are available on

Joanna’s book, The Know-It-All Girl, is also available on Amazon on this link. To visit Joanna’s website, please click here.

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12 Responses to The Book Corner – The Know-It-All Girl

  1. Julia Orwell says:

    ‘Escape’ by Carolyn Jessop, a former FLDS member, is a great read too. I will put this one on my list for sure though!

  2. KtotheRAD "Konrad" says:

    The first and most important thing to recognize is the ownership principle! That females are nothing more than property to begin with in that organization and that young adult females (The operative being “adult”) have no recognized legal Rights to make decisions regarding their own life outside of approval and authority of the congregation Elders and the Congregation itself which imposes itself on the family with great pressure and power and abuse. This can and often means coerceion and undue influence of young females and what many call “Brain washing” and even removing them from the congregation to other locales to avoid individuals and ralationships or circumstances deemed to be a “threat” by the Elders…Nothing really but more of the control and power principle applied in people’s live’s…The compliant and weakminded or “humble” mindset is engrained early in life, By design…it is not of course natural or in harmony with the Human Spirit and is a learned behaviour…

  3. Richard E.Kelly says:

    One of the great pleasures I receive from readers of my “Mama’s Club” books is an email message telling me how important knowing my story was to where they are in their life. I suspect that Joanna will receive many emails after people read her book. It is that kind of a moving story, particularly for women.

    • Richard, you are correct about the positive email replies. I received one in particular within 24 hours of this post from a woman who confided that she stayed up half the night to read my book. She said she cried when she read certain parts as they really hit home for her. It’s been a rewarding experience for me to get to know her better. I’m looking forward to getting to know others!–Joanna Foreman

  4. Julia, I’m sure you will enjoy my book, and thanks for putting it on your list. I looked into the book you recommended by Carolyn Jessop and ordered it from Amazon this morning. I’m looking forward to it, as I always enjoy a true stories about strong women who go up against their reality to escape into a better life. –Joanna Foreman

  5. Frank kerr says:

    COBE = clown of body elders

  6. Julia Orwell says:

    Hey Joanna,
    Nice to talk to a real author on a forum! Yes, I really admire Carolyn Jessop. Apart from my mother, she’s got to be the woman I admire most.

    I too would like to be like you ladies, and publish my story one day. I wasn’t born-in like you or Carolyn, so I can offer a convert’s perspective and chart the processes that result in conversion, and the ways in which converts try to fit in and their own challenges. Unlike you, I’ve always been the odd one out in my family, being the only JW among ‘unbelievers’, and so I always had a window into the ‘world’. It would be interesting to write about how despite these things, I adopted the WT worldview hook, line and sinker for years, and although cognitive dissonnance and disillusionment arose, the ways in which a university-trained woman neutralised them is very interesting.

    From where can I order your book?

    Xox Julia

    • Julia, it’s available on as a softcover and Kindle. Just go to and type in your name. Or, if you would like a personally signed copy, you can order it from me. I have a small inventory here at home for that purpose. If you’re interested in that type of thing, email me at

  7. Balcacer says:

    Good for you telling your story. Brave women !

  8. iris banegas says:

    hola ,solo quiero preguntarle si usted es ma misionera que estuvo en goascoran valle honduras?

  9. Faded says:

    Just bought this book, and I can’t put it down!! Love it!! You’re a wonderful writer.

    • Joanna Foreman says:

      I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying it. Oddly enough, I was stuck in an airport yesterday, nearly all day, so I got out my Kindle and started reading it myself! I’ve been asked by a couple of readers for a sequel, but I would only add how much happier I am now that I am without religion’s boundaries. I’m finishing a novel, my first: River Walk Chameleon, and it’s to be published in 2016. I’m really excited about that because fiction writing is my very first love. For anyone who is a former JW, I’d have to recommend the write their story about it, not necessarily for others to read, but for the purpose of working through the maze of emotions that we’re left with after being in that organization. Just telling one’s own story brings closure. At least it has to me.
      Thanks again, Joanna Foreman

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