A lot of people have pointed out to me that calling my novel Exmormon makes it sound like it's some sort of expose of Mormonism -- a book that's going to shock you with all of Mormonism's deep, dark, dirty secrets.
Since it's not that at all -- it's just an ordinary story of Mormon and ex-Mormon young people -- I should have given it a title that makes people think story. Like, say, "Gone with the Wind" or something like that.
Others have pointed out that the plot of Exmormon is all over the map, if it can be said to have a plot at all. This novel seems like the classic example to illustrate one of my favorite Simpson's Quotes: "It's just a bunch of stuff that happened."
The novel does have a structure to it though, and it's one that ties in with the strange title. As Rachel noted in her review, the different individual sub-stories work together to build on the theme of what issues you face leaving the church as a young person:
1. Young Women's: Trying to be a good Mormon and live up to the church's expectations for you as a young teen.
2. Youth Conference: More serious indoctrination and the beginnings of cognitive dissonance.
3. Saturday's Warrior: The dark side of the resulting mindset.
4. BYU: The epiphany; realizing that it's not real or true.
5. Polygamist: Breaking free of the mindset.
6. Temple Wedding: Dealing with the family fallout.
7. Orem High: A second adolescence while exploring your new-found freedom.
8. Bordeaux Mission: Reflecting on your life, your choices, your feelings about the church.
9. Exmo Conference: wrap-up.
This is why I wrote the whole story in first person (although there are multiple narrators). The point is to see the world through the eyes of the Mormon (later apostate) character. I absolutely didn't want the story to be told by the omniscient (third-person) narrator who's giving you the objectively true "real scoop" on what's going on. The readers' question "What do I think of the narrator's perspective here?" is a part of the story.
As you know, I'm planning to make the novel available online so it will be more convenient to read it and to talk about how it relates to people's experiences in and out of Mormonism. I'm already happy to note that different readers have related to different characters -- i.e. several cases where from one email I can see that a reader disliked character X, whereas another reader clearly identifies with that same character. ;-)
And I've gotten good feedback from non-Mormon readers who have enjoyed it as a story and for its insights into what Mormon culture is like.
For my LDS readers, I've tried to write the story as complex, realistic, and fair enough that the faithful won't just angrily dismiss it as a bunch of bull. The novel is appropriate for some LDS readers but not all. Basically, if you're open enough to want to try to understand what your apostate friends and family members have gone through, you might be interested in reading this. And if you like Zarahemla books, then Exmormon probably won't offend you. And depending on your tastes, you might like it. :D
I was hoping to be ready to announce the novel site's URL and the date I'll begin posting it, but unfortunately I'm a little behind schedule. Keep watching this blog and I'll keep you posted!!! :D