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.
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.