In the summer of 2022, a book was released by St. Martin’s Press. Corinne was written by an unknown author by the name of Rebecca Morrow. While it’s not unusual for new authors to get contracts with major publishing companies and be promoted, it was the way this book came onto the scene. The front jacket cover of the book had a review blurb by New York Times bestseller Jodi Picoult which was quoted as: “…It’s a modern-day Romeo & Juliet, and you’ll whip through the pages to hope for the impossible.”
When looking at the author page on the back cover, it only said the following: “Rebecca Morrow is the pseudonym for a New York Times bestselling author.”
And that’s where the controversy began.
If you were on the book side of Twitter, Goodreads, or BookTok in June of 2022, then the rumor that immediately surrounded this book is probably well known to you. If not, then here’s a quick review: The rumor (unsubstantiated of course) is that Rebecca Morrow is Stephanie Meyer, the author of the Twilight Series. That she wrote this book under a pseudonym because of the subject matter. Allegedly.
The book is about the lives of two people, Corinne Callahan and Enoch Miller, both part of a conservative Mormon community. It begins with the two as teens and then jumps to thirteen years later when they are both adults. While usually I try not to spoil books for future readers, I don’t think I can do that completely with this story. So here’s your warning.
I chose this book because I volunteered myself as tribute. Because of the subject matter, many people in several book clubs were discussing reading this book but were in the process of deconstructing from their own evangelical institutions and did not feel the book could be read objectively. I offered to read it and send a review. To be honest I was curious. While I know Stephanie Meyer is a controversial author, I’ve enjoyed 99% of her books unironically. If this was allegedly Meyer, then it wouldn’t be a hardship to read this as well.
To the synopsis. Corinne is in a conservative Mormon church. When she was younger, her mother was witnessed to by Sister Miller and Corinne’s mom packs up the family (husband, daughter, and baby) and accepts, desperate to find meaning in her life. She finds it in the church and the community. Her husband does not and leaves the family, driving away one day. Corinne is viewed as the outcast, not born into the community, not as successful, a charity case to be pitied is how she sees herself. After her stepfather leaves, their situation becomes more dire, and they are obliged to move into the Miller’s basement, living on the charity of one of the higher members. At seventeen, Corinne, innocent and unworldly, develops crush on the Miller’s oldest son, Enoch. Through a series of events not of her own making, Corinne is cast out from the church at eighteen and cast out from her family.
The story jumps to thirteen years later. Corinne a successful PR marketing campaigner. She has taken time off and returned to Kansas to be with her mother who had a stroke. Conditionally moving back into the circle of her family. Not completely with them but in their circle. It’s at one of these Sunday dinners where she sees Enoch again.
Enoch Miller is still in the church, still part of the Mormon community where Corinne is not. Shae had been cast out as worldly and even her being there with her family, who have moved to a more liberal church, are seen as toeing the line by having her there.
Slowly, Enoch and Corinne begin a relationship, Enoch in the church, Corinne not. This is where the “modern day Romeo & Juliet” part comes in because they are seen as being on two different sides. The Godly Mormon brother and the worldly pariah. It’s a dangerous tug of war they play as they try to work around not only the church but their families, religion, Enoch’s ex-wife and what their relationship means for their souls.
As a book, this was okay. It wasn’t a page turner. I borrowed it from the library so there was a time limit how long I could keep it. I put it down for almost a week before I made myself pick it up again to finish it.
It was a hard read, especially if you’re deconstructing from the church. Rebecca does not pull punches in her writing of the Mormon church or the Mormon community. There are passages in this book that screamed foreshadowing. There are passages in this book that, if the rumors are true, could get the author possibly cast out of their church.
I will warn you, just because it is about a conservative religion and religious people does not mean this book is clean. There is sex in this book. Quite a lot of it!
While I can understand the sentiment behind Jodi’s blurb, this isn’t a Romeo & Juliet situation, there is a happy ending. Whether it’s your happy ending, you’ll need to judge for yourself.
BEYOND THIS LINE BE SPOILERS AND TRIGGER WARNINGS
TW: dubious sexual consent, church ideology, Familial abandonment, guilt
Rebecca hits on a lot of hard topics in her book; Mormonism, the cultish side of evangelical churches, religious indoctrination, slut shaming, LGBTQ+ issues, child abandonment, familial abandonment. These are just some of the topics that are brought it.
It was hard for me to like Enoch in the beginning, and I think that’s where a lot of the reluctance to finish this book came from. At seventeen, he took advantage of a naive girl with a crush and awkwardly seduced her. He was supposed to be engaged and still had sex with Corinne in his parents living room. The living room where his mother was allowing Corinne’s family to live. Then he felt guilty after the fact about it and confessed his crime to the Elders. He got off with a slap on the wrist. Corinne was forced to stand before the Elders and confess how she was wicked before her entire family was cast out of the church. When they found another church, Corinne’s mother wanted her to confess her sins to the new church Elders before she was allowed in. She chose to leave and go to college instead. Her mother cut all connection with her.
Thirteen years later and she’s allowed back into her family to help and only as a cautionary side. Standing in her family’s house, Corinne comes face to face with Enoch once more.
During their tentative friendship and romance several things come to light. Enoch’s ex-wife, Shannon, left him because she came out as a lesbian. She was utterly cast out of the church & her family and Enoch was demoted from Elder because he “couldn’t keep his own house in order”.
There are more than a few arguments between Enoch and Corinne because of her adamant refusal to return to the church. She remembers what it did to her and she is still dealing with the mental scars and refuses to put herself back into that situation for anyone. In response, Enoch asks to be marked as a “bad association” in the church, which means he near cast himself out, because he was in love with a “worldly person”. In the book Corinne’s family explain it as akin to someone dying.
There is sex, so much sex, in this book and while I applaud the amount of very creative sex in this book, the author’s description of Enoch at times is a little off putting. We, as the reader, know that Enoch is pretty much a brick wall. But the description of his “fat lips” and his “thick, bumpy tongue” at times pulled me out of the story so fast I got whiplash. The factual discussions during the sex, before the act and interrupting it sometimes, was sometimes funny and insightful. These are things that need to be talked about, even if Enoch brings them up at the completely wrong time. For all his wrong in the beginning of the story, Enoch grows slowly as a likable human. He is still on speaking terms with Shannon, his ex-wife, even when he should have cast her out as well. Because everyone else abandoned her, he didn’t want to. He’s friendly with her girlfriend. He talks about the possibility of them having children and if Corinne is pro-choice and what that would mean if they accidently became pregnant. They discuss their ingrained guilt of having sex outside marriage, Corinne’s apathy for sex. And if this is Stephanie Meyer writing, kudos girl on making a scene with period sex not at cringy as E.L. James. For that alone, I applaud you!
All of this is leading up to a climax that never happened. Corinne’s family finds out. There’s no huge blow up about her leading him back down the path of wickedness. Not everything goes well for Enoch but by the end, there is what could be called a happily for now. It’s not all roses and rainbows and fairy tale endings. There are still some issues, such as Corinne’s mother being at her wedding because she believes Corinne’s marriage to Enoch will bring her back to the church. It won’t. There’s Enoch’s mother who will more than likely give Lady Catherine De Bourgh a run for her money in loudly lamenting how the shades of her family are thus polluted. The story ends with Enoch in front of the Elders and Corinne at home waiting for him.
For a story, it was okay. I’m glad I read it so I can say, “I read it”. If you’re deconstructing for a church, I would suggest not reading this until after you’ve worked through a bunch of stuff. Even I cringed at a lot of the church doctrine in this book, then thought that someone could get in huge trouble if their real name ever comes out.
I also wondered if the author, whomever she may be, has left the church and this is her way of working through trauma. This story has a hint of “I don’t have to listen to you anymore” vibes, as well as a bit of deconstruction within.
Well, welcome to 2023 readers. Let’s get to this. If you read it and have similar or even differing opinions on this, let me know! If you have time to spare and are curious, pick it up!
Until next week friends, look after yourselves and remember, get your favorite drink and get comfortable with a good book.