Thursday, July 07, 2016

Greetings from Utopia Park: Surviving a Transcendent Childhood by Claire Hoffman


Clare grew up with a mom who practiced Transcendental Meditation (TM) and a dad who was alcoholic. The dad eventually left and it was just Claire, her older brother, and her mom. They moved to Iowa, where there was a community of TM followers and Claire started to struggle with being an outsider. Having to attend the public school because her mom couldn't afford the tuition for TM school, Claire was bullied for being a 'ru'. When someone donated money for the two kids to attend school, Claire felt like she fit in for a while until she started to question what was being taught.

Having known absolutely nothing about TM or what it meant, this book provided a good background. There were sprinklings of the history of the movement throughout Claire's story as she tied what was happening to her with what was happening to the movement. It's not really a cult, it's not really a religion, it's probably best described as a movement. Claire explained very well what she was questioning and why she was questioning it. And frankly came to a very logical resolution where she didn't give it up, didn't adopt it wholly, but wound up somewhere in the middle.

The pacing of this book was excellent for an autobiography. I would have liked to read more about what happened when she went to her father as a teenager and how this was different from living at Utopia Park but this was glossed over. An interesting book, even if you don't know anything about TM.

First Line: "'I want to be initiated now,' I announced, staring into the eyes of the teacher."

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour!


About the Author
Claire Hoffman works as a magazine writer living in Los Angeles, writing for national magazines, covering culture, religion, celebrity, business and whatever else seems interesting. She was formerly a staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times and a freelance reporter for the New York Times.

She has a masters degree in religion from the University of Chicago, and a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University. She serves on the board of her family foundation, the Goldhirsh Foundation, as well as the Columbia Journalism School. Claire is a native Iowan and has been meditating since she was three years old.
Find her on Twitter and at her website.

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm interested to see which parts of her upbringing she embraced and which she left behind.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!