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Publisher's Summary

Leaving the Saints is an unforgettable memoir about one woman's spiritual quest and journey toward faith. As "Mormon royalty" within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Martha Beck was raised in a home frequented by the Church's high elders, known as the apostles, and her existence was framed by their strict code of conduct. Wearing her sacred garments, she married in a secret temple ceremony, but only after two Mormon leaders ascertained that her "past contained no flirtation with serious sins, such as committing murder or drinking coffee". She went to church faithfully with the other brothers and sisters of her ward. When her son was born with Down syndrome, she and her husband left their graduate programs at Harvard to return to Provo, Utah, where they knew the supportive Mormon community would embrace them.

However, soon after Martha began teaching at Brigham Young University, she began to see firsthand the Church's ruthlessness as it silenced dissidents and masked truths that contradicted its published beliefs. Most troubling of all, she was forced to face her history of sexual abuse by one of the Church's most prominent authorities. This book chronicles her difficult decision to sever her relationship with the faith that had cradled her for so long and to confront and forgive the person who betrayed her so deeply.

This beautifully written, inspiring memoir explores the powerful yearning toward faith. It offers a rare glimpse inside one of the world's most secretive religions while telling a profoundly moving story of personal courage, survival, and the transformative power of spirituality.

©2005 Martha Beck; (P)2005 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The book is full of Beck's laugh-out-loud hyperbolic wit and exquisitely written insights." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Sheila
  • Gilbert, AZ, USA
  • 07-03-05

Decide for yourself

I found this to be a riveting story and as a third generation Utah Mormon I found her depiction of Mormon culture to be right on. I was raised in Utah, graduated from BYU and served a mission for the LDS Church, and in my opinion, Martha Beck is just telling it like it is. Anyone wanting a glimpse inside the faith will find her account interesting and perhaps disturbing, but just because you don't like the message why shoot the messenger? I found her personal revelations believable and backed up with strong physical evidence despite family denials. I think people should listen to her well written story and decide for themselves.

43 of 60 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Inconvenient truths.

What did you love best about Leaving the Saints?

This woman's courage. Dedication to the truth.

What did you like best about this story?

Her ability to confront an inconvenient truth.

What about Bernadette Dunne’s performance did you like?

Natural reader.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Many spooky moments.

Any additional comments?

Hard for me to confront the people that left reviews here, volunteering to add to her burdens. Every time we knock a woman in the dirt, we all die a little. Some folk are ruthless and even offended by a woman's honest story, this is very spooky.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Sarah
  • Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • 11-19-13

A little meh.

A lot of this story was about the author’s spiritual journey, love, forgiveness, peace and self-control. She seems to be the “perfect” person, stifling anger, judgment and bittnerness. I found myself both in awe and disbelief at the same time. She was almost TOO perfect a person. After a while all that got old. I enjoy biographical works like this and “Beyond Belief” by Jenna Miscavige Hill was a better read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Book worm
  • Greensboro, North Carolina
  • 05-16-06


I thought this book was fantastic. Brilliantly written and expertly read I found it hard to put it aside. As a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who has begun to seriously question the authenticity of the organization, I found several parallels between my experiences and those of Mrs. Beck. Like the author, my doubts began when I experienced the endowment and marriage rituals in the temple. Also, as time went on I began to realize that the church was organized and run more like a giant corporation whose purpose was to create and sustain a false image rather than a self-sustaining religious organization based on truth. It can be argued that the LDS church was founded with lies and is sustained by lies, hence the great ongoing efforts required by its leaders to sustain it's momentum. This message comes across clearly in this book.

If you are considering becoming a member of the LDS church or if you are currently a member who wants to experience a non-church endorsed viewpoint I highly recommend this book. Also, I would recommend "No Man Knows my History" by Fawn S. Brodie.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Why the split in ratings?

I found the book enlightening and a little scary. Riveting story, effective and engaging narration. In short, exactly what I seek in a recorded book.

I'm also not a Mormon. As a reader/listener of this book without an ax to grind, I wonder about the negative reviews I saw here. Was there a separate agenda? Hard to say, but worth consideration.

Order the book and decide for yourself.

22 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jennifer
  • N. Las Vegas, NV, USA
  • 03-08-09

Beautiful, Inspiring

This is a beautifully told, love-filled story. It is exactly what being a beautiful human being can strive for, having a real human life while dealing with the true cruelties of existence. I was touched by Ms. Beck's story. I was raised Mormon and am no longer a member, however it has lifted so many veils of confusion I still sensed but could not explain about where I came from and why my parents were who they were. I feel like I am now part of what is probably Beck's invisible circle of comrads. i'd love to thank her in person for leaving me feeling full of love and understanding for myself, my parents and mormons, and in fact, all people.

11 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This is one of my favorite topics and only one of many books I've read. I admire this author and her dealing with some difficult personal and spiritual dilemnas.

14 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Honest and guttsy

Martha Beck's personal story was gripping and fascinating. I suppose she will be shunned by her family for her honest account, but it needed to be told. I admired her exploration and objectivity in discussing secret family matters. Thank you for writing when most people would have stuffed it in their emotions.

17 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jason
  • Ogden, UT, USA
  • 03-21-05

Superb FICTIONAL account

One star for the effort.
I became skeptical when her "repressed memories" were discovered. How many psychologists lost their licenses to practice or are in prison for this "diagnosis?" These "repressed memory" cases in the 1990s were debunked by qualified Psychologists shortly after they became vogue and ruined hundreds of innocent peoples lives.
I'm no expert in theology but this is an apparently another in a long list of intellectuals who is incapable of living the tenets of her religion and, rather than simply choosing another direction in life, has chosen to twist truths and cry "poor me" in an attempt to discredit the organization.
Come on Ms. Beck, move on and write something constructive.

42 of 77 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Joel
  • Baton Rouge, LA, USA
  • 07-05-05

What does her family think about this one?

A quick search at google for "Martha Beck's family" will retrieve her 7 siblings response to her book. They all seem to disagree about this being classified as non-fiction.

25 of 46 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Lee-Anne
  • 01-16-13

spiritual and psycohological autobiography

I knew nothing about Mormonism or Martha Beck before listening to this audiobook, though I've since gathered that she is well known in the US - unsurprisingly with notoriety in the Mormon world. I chose it out of interest in the spiritual autobiography of which the subtitle indicates.
What the title doesn't indicate is that the book is as much about sexual abuse as it is about religion and faith. Had I known this I wouldn't have chosen it, but though I was shocked and upset by the content on this subject, I'm glad I listened to this book because it's not just about surviving abuse and the consequences of a traumatic childhood, nor just about the (also disturbing) inner workings and foundations of the Mormon church, but is very much about finding the paths of healing, grace, courage, forgiveness, love, and truth.
I think Martha and I would have to part company on some of the New Age-y aspects of spirituality that the synopses of some of her more current books indicate, nevertheless, I found this book spiritually uplifting and challenging and I'm glad I listened to it.

  • Overall
  • CD
  • 04-16-11

An interesting and well written book

This book is very interesting and for someone who knew almost nothing about the Mormon religion, it was fascinating to hear about it and my attention was captured all the way through. I would discourage anyone considering reading this book from reading the whole synopsis as it gives to much away - it spoils some of the shock and surprise and that is a pity.
The book is wonderfully narrated and that makes it probably an easier book to listen to rather than read since the author tries to explain some complex religious ideas and discusses her very intense thoughts. There is a lovely thread of humour that runs through the book and I would recommend this book to people who are looking for an eye opening read that is very well written.