Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You Can Take the Girl Out of Montana, but You Can't Take the Montana out of the Woman: Carlene Cross

Growing up on a Montana ranch, the road into Fundamentalism was an easy one for the young Carlene Cross, it's the road out that was long and treacherous. And what makes for a better memoir than treachery?

I read Carlene's memoir, Fleeing Fundamentalism, right after I met Carlene in 2008. I picked it up thinking, I dunno, Fundamentalism? And, about eight hours later, I looked up and children were circling me demanding dinner. Where had I been? I'd been following this Jane Eyre of a narrator as she smuggled bibles into Eastern Europe as a teen, hung out with Quakers, and fell into the arms of the wrong guy--the charismatic young minister who turns into the narrator's worst nightmare.

But as I was reading about the young Carlene, my mind kept flashing to the present Carlene. The country girl turned city woman who'd raised her children mostly on her own, who'd worked for PBS, who wrote two books even though nobody ever told her she could. And who'd just lost her son in Afghanistan.

On July 13, 2008, Carlene's son, Jason and eight other soldiers were killed in the battle of Wanat, and since then Carlene and a group of other parents who lost their sons that day have been telling their sons' stories and refusing to let the matter drop.

Carlene's next project is a book about what happened in the Battle of Wanat and the nine men who died. When I talk to Carlene about her next book, the importance of this story sends a shiver through me. It's a story that needs to be told, and Carlene is the writer to tell this story.

I'm proud to have Carlene Cross' FLEEING FUNDAMENTALISM as one of our books in Theo's Big Memoir Giveaway. Learn more about Carlene at

Want to know more about what happened in Wanat?

Learn about the Dateline special on Wanat at


  1. I forwarded your blog entry to a friend who also fled fundamentalism. Sounds like an interesting book.

  2. i just wanted to make a note here that i really enjoy reading you...anything that you write, even when you are writing about others. can i hire you to teach me to write?

  3. hey jorja,
    i just spotted this comment. Yes, i do writing coaching. read about it on my website or email me.