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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS “A candid, generous, and profound spiritual memoir that deserves a great deal of thoughtful discussion.”—Anne Rice   At seventeen, Mary Johnson experienced her calling when she saw a photo of Mother Teresa on the cover of Time magazine; eighteen months later she began her training as a Missionary of Charity, a nun in NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS “A candid, generous, and profound spiritual memoir that deserves a great deal of thoughtful discussion.”—Anne Rice   At seventeen, Mary Johnson experienced her calling when she saw a photo of Mother Teresa on the cover of Time magazine; eighteen months later she began her training as a Missionary of Charity, a nun in Mother Teresa’s order. Not without difficulty, this boisterous, independent-minded teenager eventually adapted to the sisters’ austere life of poverty and devotion, but beneath the white-and-blue sari beat the heart of an ordinary young woman who faced daily the simple and profound struggles we all share, the same desires for love and connection. Eventually, after twenty years of service, Johnson left the church to find her own path, but her magnificently told story holds universal truths about the mysteries of faith and how a woman discovers herself.   Includes new material: Two reading group guides—for groups that wish to take different approaches to the book; a conversation between Mary Johnson and Mira Bartók, author of The Memory Palace; and Mary Johnson’s recommended reading list   “A wonderful achievement . . . Johnson opens the window on a horizon of spiritual questions [and] takes an unflinching look inside her own heart.”—The Christian Science Monitor   “An incredible coming-of-age story . . . [It] has everything a memoir needs: an inside look at a way of life that most of us will never see, a physical and emotional journey, and suspense.”—Slate “Reads like a novel . . . an exacting account of a woman growing into her own soul.”—More magazine   “Engaging, heartfelt and entertaining . . . [Johnson] articulates her struggles with her God in words that will hit home.”—Los Angeles Times   “An inspiration that transcends any particular religious belief . . . An Unquenchable Thirst is a journey that captivates, but its resonance lies in the life examined.”—The Denver Post


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NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS “A candid, generous, and profound spiritual memoir that deserves a great deal of thoughtful discussion.”—Anne Rice   At seventeen, Mary Johnson experienced her calling when she saw a photo of Mother Teresa on the cover of Time magazine; eighteen months later she began her training as a Missionary of Charity, a nun in NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS “A candid, generous, and profound spiritual memoir that deserves a great deal of thoughtful discussion.”—Anne Rice   At seventeen, Mary Johnson experienced her calling when she saw a photo of Mother Teresa on the cover of Time magazine; eighteen months later she began her training as a Missionary of Charity, a nun in Mother Teresa’s order. Not without difficulty, this boisterous, independent-minded teenager eventually adapted to the sisters’ austere life of poverty and devotion, but beneath the white-and-blue sari beat the heart of an ordinary young woman who faced daily the simple and profound struggles we all share, the same desires for love and connection. Eventually, after twenty years of service, Johnson left the church to find her own path, but her magnificently told story holds universal truths about the mysteries of faith and how a woman discovers herself.   Includes new material: Two reading group guides—for groups that wish to take different approaches to the book; a conversation between Mary Johnson and Mira Bartók, author of The Memory Palace; and Mary Johnson’s recommended reading list   “A wonderful achievement . . . Johnson opens the window on a horizon of spiritual questions [and] takes an unflinching look inside her own heart.”—The Christian Science Monitor   “An incredible coming-of-age story . . . [It] has everything a memoir needs: an inside look at a way of life that most of us will never see, a physical and emotional journey, and suspense.”—Slate “Reads like a novel . . . an exacting account of a woman growing into her own soul.”—More magazine   “Engaging, heartfelt and entertaining . . . [Johnson] articulates her struggles with her God in words that will hit home.”—Los Angeles Times   “An inspiration that transcends any particular religious belief . . . An Unquenchable Thirst is a journey that captivates, but its resonance lies in the life examined.”—The Denver Post

30 review for An Unquenchable Thirst: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Chilling memoir of what it was like to be a nun in the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa) order, Johnson went in as a novice at 19, and remained with the order for 20 years. The struggle of people who decide to be good--professionally good--and what it means, and what's given up-- throws a microscope on human fallibility. Beautiful and horrifying for someone who believes that sensuality is part of godliness... Always curious about religious life--from In this House of Brede and the Sound o Chilling memoir of what it was like to be a nun in the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa) order, Johnson went in as a novice at 19, and remained with the order for 20 years. The struggle of people who decide to be good--professionally good--and what it means, and what's given up-- throws a microscope on human fallibility. Beautiful and horrifying for someone who believes that sensuality is part of godliness... Always curious about religious life--from In this House of Brede and the Sound of Music on out. Fascinating and fills me with such pity for such an obviously brilliant woman to be spending her time, mental power, goodness and idealism in a tortured relationship with the "virtues" of obedience and chastity. This ended beautifully, in a very subtle and complete way. Someone who chooses to live life rather than sacrifice it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Aimee

    I received this book through Goodreads Giveaways. I really didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book. Growing up Catholic I was hoping for some insight into what Mother Teresa was really like and what it was like to be a part of The Missionaries of Charity. Mary Johnson gave me all of that information and so much more. An Unquenchable Thirst is Mary's story beginning when she was 17 years old and was inspired by a Time magazine article about Mother Teresa. She began her religiou I received this book through Goodreads Giveaways. I really didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book. Growing up Catholic I was hoping for some insight into what Mother Teresa was really like and what it was like to be a part of The Missionaries of Charity. Mary Johnson gave me all of that information and so much more. An Unquenchable Thirst is Mary's story beginning when she was 17 years old and was inspired by a Time magazine article about Mother Teresa. She began her religious training in a convent in the South Bronx and spent the next 20 years dedicating her life to God and to the poor. The book ends with her decision to leave her community of sisters and find her own path. I think the thing that struck the most about this book is how brutally honest Mary Johnson is throughout the book, especially about herself. She has so many personal details that I know I would have had a difficult time writing about if it was my story. She freely lets us in to her deepest secrets, thoughts, desires, and problems. We learn of her difficulty with obediance, her need for physical intimacy, and her desperate search for love. At times it was truly heartbreaking to read. The details of how these nuns lived their day-to-day lives were given in great detail. It was hard to read about how the Sisters were not allowed to touch each other at all, how they were supposed to physically hurt themselves for penance, and the total lack of joy and happiness in their lives. Mary also goes into the power plays and politics involved among the Sisters and how difficult it was to make any real and meaningful change. The parts about Mother Teresa were interesting and I do feel like I know more about her now. The book really shows how hard she worked and how much of herself she gave to the poor. I would have to say that this book upset me at times and I got frustrated and angry with Mary as she tried to stay faithful to who she was. Even though it was not an easy read, I think it was an important one for me. I learned a lot from it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bernice

    This book gives an inside account, and a very human one at that, of the life of nuns in the Missionaries of Charity. To be honest, the portrayal was somewhat as I expected, but multiplied many times over. I would describe Mary's experience as a never-ending bootcamp coupled with international-level political wrangling and intense bureaucratic handling while living in the isolation of a lock-up facility. What saddened me was the incessant squashing of individual gifts, and the near absence of phy This book gives an inside account, and a very human one at that, of the life of nuns in the Missionaries of Charity. To be honest, the portrayal was somewhat as I expected, but multiplied many times over. I would describe Mary's experience as a never-ending bootcamp coupled with international-level political wrangling and intense bureaucratic handling while living in the isolation of a lock-up facility. What saddened me was the incessant squashing of individual gifts, and the near absence of physical contact and expressions of individual love that would feed the soul and allow for better service to others. Some may flinch or be shocked by the sexual exploitation (and lack of proper handling of predatory behavior) within the order, but considering the lack of nurturing provided to the nuns, it seemed almost inevitable to me. It was brave to include it, in my opinion. The sisters remind me in many ways of recruits who enter the military with great patriotic zeal and a desire to defend others only to become disenchanted when they find a much different experience once they join. These women arrive devoted and with an intense desire to help, but most are soon crushed--not due to their lack of spiritual fervor but from laboring under an administration that expects not just hard work, but a nearly impossible selflessness and an inhuman ability to work and suffer needlessly. I was shocked at the lack of regard for the health and safety of the nuns, and I found this corroborated in other books - ex. Colette Livermore's "Hope Endures: Leaving Mother Teresa, Losing Faith, and Searching for Meaning." Johnson's book reads like a novel, and while some have judged it lengthy, I didn't want it to end. If Johnson ever publishes the several hundred pages she cut, I will want to read them.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nette

    I was hoping this memoir would be bad so I could say hilarious things like, "The terrible prose is second to NUN" and "This ex-sister shouldn't make a HABIT of writing books." Ha! But it turned out to be honest, fascinating, even inspiring. Frankly, I wasn't a big fan of Mother T herself, but the ordinary women who followed her into the fray, working tirelessly with the poor around the world, are pretty incredible.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Arlene

    With a sense of trepidation, I began to read this book. I have long admired the work of Mother Teresa, and I did not want my image of her selfless dedication shattered. If Mother Teresa suffered from crises of faith or took occasional misguided actions, I did not want to know. I wanted my untarnished image of her left intact. I wanted to put my hands over my ears and say "I can't hear you! I can't hear you!" to protect myself from criticism of her. But then, would that kind of avoidance serve the With a sense of trepidation, I began to read this book. I have long admired the work of Mother Teresa, and I did not want my image of her selfless dedication shattered. If Mother Teresa suffered from crises of faith or took occasional misguided actions, I did not want to know. I wanted my untarnished image of her left intact. I wanted to put my hands over my ears and say "I can't hear you! I can't hear you!" to protect myself from criticism of her. But then, would that kind of avoidance serve the highest good? Undoubtedly, Mother Teresa positively affected the lives of millions of people, so if we learn about her work and find a way to make it even better, wouldn't that propel us forward into a brighter future? So, I forged ahead into Mary Johnson's detailed (maybe a touch too detailed?) version of events. Indeed, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity (MIC) serve the world's poor in a way few other organizations do. Following the biblical teaching ". . . whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40) the sisters look for Jesus in every person they meet. The sisters find Jesus in the homeless, the ill, the mentally ill, and the poverty-stricken. Their work honours in a beautiful way the true teachings of Jesus: social justice and unconditional love. But then, the not-so-beautiful side of the story emerges. Under a vow of chastity, the sisters try to repress their sexuality. It doesn't work. Out of frustration and loneliness, they seek outlets with priests and other sisters. Guilt over their perfectly natural sexual drive follows. Under the vow of poverty, the sisters seek donations for their work. They allow others to feel good about giving and trust God to provide. They also expend extra energy trying to make ends meet, or leave deserving workers without due recompense. (Even simple things like curtains lead to conflict.) The daily rituals and routines of life with the MIC take precedence over all—even physical and mental health. The sisters pray, meditate and work even when swaying on their feet from illness or exhaustion. The life of a missionary of charity demands separation from family. Severed or strained relations with parents and siblings result. Most worrying of all, the sisters practise "the discipline" by beating themselves with a rough rope. I wasn't fully aware of Mother Teresa's role as something close to a chief executive officer of a global organization. Before reading this book, I envisioned her spending every day walking the streets of Calcutta, bending to touch the hands of people in need. Her life involved much more than that. She travelled extensively and attended boring meetings. In a way that is both understandable, given the demands of her day-to-day life, and sad, given her desire to aid humanity, Mother Teresa sometimes overlooks the suffering of her sisters as they work to ease the suffering of others. Mary Johnson spent 20 years with the Missionaries of Charity. She believed in the work of the sisters and the help they provided to people in need, but she yearned for intimacy and human contact, and she strained against the unquestioning obedience demanded of her. Seeking a way to fulfill an unquenchable thirst, she left the organization. After reading Johnson's book, I'm left to wonder, how much better could it all be? How much greater might the good works inspired by Mother Teresa be if the sisters slept more comfortably and began each day with a full measure of healthful energy? How many more people could be helped if the work was undertaken by people who loved themselves enough not to punish themselves? How refreshed would they be if they were emotionally fulfilled and supported by family? And how much more loving would their work be if they viewed money and resources as loving tools with which to do good, and not something that is "harmful if accumulated"? I believe that is Johnson's loving reason for writing this book and for risking her own reputation by trampling on the illusions of people like me. I believe she wrote it to improve the work with the ill and underprivileged—not to harm her fellow sisters or the reputation of Mother Teresa. She sees a world of human beings with "Jesus," or whatever word you use for the sacred, inside of all of them, in need of nourishment in the most effective way possible.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Diane Lockward

    An outstanding memoir. I liked it so much more than I'd expected to like it. In fact, I could hardly put it down. As a non-Catholic, I've always been fascinated by nuns and completely unable to understand why anyone would want to be one. After reading this book, I still feel that way. What a hard, cold life they live--at least in that particular order of nuns. I was surprised at the level of politics and unkindness. I felt relieved when Mary finally followed her heart and left. It seemed the rig An outstanding memoir. I liked it so much more than I'd expected to like it. In fact, I could hardly put it down. As a non-Catholic, I've always been fascinated by nuns and completely unable to understand why anyone would want to be one. After reading this book, I still feel that way. What a hard, cold life they live--at least in that particular order of nuns. I was surprised at the level of politics and unkindness. I felt relieved when Mary finally followed her heart and left. It seemed the right choice. I am grateful to her for sharing such an intimate story and for writing it so beautifully and honestly.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I couldn't put this book down because it was so interesting to me. I do not like nuns, having had them teach me throughout my Catholic school education. As far as I am concerned, these frustrated, malignant, sheltered women were nothing but church sanctioned child abusers. However, the Missionaries of Charity seem to find a higher calling than those Philadelphia nuns I knew. These women were called to work with the poor and bring them peace. However, as with any pure calling, things are not alwa I couldn't put this book down because it was so interesting to me. I do not like nuns, having had them teach me throughout my Catholic school education. As far as I am concerned, these frustrated, malignant, sheltered women were nothing but church sanctioned child abusers. However, the Missionaries of Charity seem to find a higher calling than those Philadelphia nuns I knew. These women were called to work with the poor and bring them peace. However, as with any pure calling, things are not always what they seem to be. The Missionaries of Charity collected huge sums of money for their charities and did not use it. They could have elevated the poor, brought them out of their despair by giving them hope through work, co-ops,etc., but the council (founded and run by Mother Theresa) saw more dignity in suffering than in helping. I could see why women, especially the author became disenchanted with their work- which for her was merely a shuffling papers. She was refuted by misogynistic priests and a bureaucracy that was based on a "boys club" where women were used as secondary agents to fulfill the club's rules. It speaks to the archaic thinking of the Catholic church and certain women who were willing (Mother Theresa especially) to play along with their games by oppressing women so that they could eventually be candidates for Sainthood. The extremely sad part of the whole book is this woman and lots of her fellow sisters were willing to sacrifice their lives in service of the poor, but their service had to take a back seat to Vatican rules, and the whims of other sisters whose only vocation was self promotion within the order. Those dedicated to their vocation did make a difference with those they came in contact with...just think of how much more they could have done given the opportunity without the restrictions of the order and the stupid "man" made rules set up by the Catholic Church.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Breena

    I think the strength of AN UNQUENCHABLE THIRST is that its exploration of the nun’s vocation validates the voction as a life choice not an ignorant, unexamined, desperate act. Unfortunately, many still hold to the idea that nuns are rejected, undesirable women whom only God would want. It’s a frequent point of humor. That we don’t know much about the day to day life of nuns is probably because to expose the private side of the vocation as Mary Johnson has so bravely done, is to open a sack whose cont I think the strength of AN UNQUENCHABLE THIRST is that its exploration of the nun’s vocation validates the voction as a life choice not an ignorant, unexamined, desperate act. Unfortunately, many still hold to the idea that nuns are rejected, undesirable women whom only God would want. It’s a frequent point of humor. That we don’t know much about the day to day life of nuns is probably because to expose the private side of the vocation as Mary Johnson has so bravely done, is to open a sack whose contents can’t be controlled. I hadn’t realized how imperiled the individual personality was in the traditional religious order. Mary Johnson gives us a unique and unsparing glimpse at the destruction to individuality while honoring the grand design of it. The cult of selflessness itself is what destroys the nun’s utopia. Human beings being at their best when they give and receive love and friendship. So that the extreme celibacy of religious orders would seem to work against a social human's true vocation: to love one's neighbor AND one's self.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I used to be quite a devout Catholic, but have been an atheist for years. Despite my lack of faith, I have always found Mother Teresa to be fascinating. I truly appreciated the personal journey of this former Missionary of Charity. She did not over emphasize the good or the bad of the order, but rather focused on how the rules of being an MC impacted her personally. She also shared her personal interactions with Mother Teresa, and represented her as the enduring person she is while still highlig I used to be quite a devout Catholic, but have been an atheist for years. Despite my lack of faith, I have always found Mother Teresa to be fascinating. I truly appreciated the personal journey of this former Missionary of Charity. She did not over emphasize the good or the bad of the order, but rather focused on how the rules of being an MC impacted her personally. She also shared her personal interactions with Mother Teresa, and represented her as the enduring person she is while still highlighting her humanity. There are many disappointing persons in this book, and that is the way life is. I thank Mary for her honest and full sharing of her journey. One note: Johnson's memory is fantastic. I can barely recall what I did this morning, but she had some wonderful recall. Even if she embellished some memories a bit, her tale was consistently interesting.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Clearly written with honest portrayal of raw emotion, this is a brave book. I could not help comparing it to a book written by Karen Armstrong (The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness), which taught me more about the cloistered choices. I respect Ms. Johnson's integrity in her choosing to convey her story while keeping her portrayal of Mother Teresa gentle. Unfortunately, the book pushed my "that's not fair!" buttons so often, my unhappiness with the situations portrayed meant I did not en Clearly written with honest portrayal of raw emotion, this is a brave book. I could not help comparing it to a book written by Karen Armstrong (The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness), which taught me more about the cloistered choices. I respect Ms. Johnson's integrity in her choosing to convey her story while keeping her portrayal of Mother Teresa gentle. Unfortunately, the book pushed my "that's not fair!" buttons so often, my unhappiness with the situations portrayed meant I did not enjoy reading about the situations described.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    This was one of my all time favourite books. I wanted to read it afer seeing the author's interview on the Rosie show. What an incredible journey for over twenty years. If we could only make the type of sacrifices for even one day, notwithstanding a life time, the world may be a better place. My one permanent take away from the book was this - "To forgive is to suffer someone until your loving kindness heals them." I remind myself of this daily and it has helped me enormously during some personal st This was one of my all time favourite books. I wanted to read it afer seeing the author's interview on the Rosie show. What an incredible journey for over twenty years. If we could only make the type of sacrifices for even one day, notwithstanding a life time, the world may be a better place. My one permanent take away from the book was this - "To forgive is to suffer someone until your loving kindness heals them." I remind myself of this daily and it has helped me enormously during some personal struggles. I highly recommend this book!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Joy

    I am humbled by the bravery Mary Johnson shows in ripping the bandage off her wounded but healing soul and exposing her experience as a Missionary of Charity to the world. Mary's journey from enthralled teenager to disillusioned adult was a long and tortuous one. In her memoir, she explores the hidden world of life in service to the church without regard to protecting herself from the sting of revealing her weaknesses, her "failures", and her humanity. She exposes much of what I have long though I am humbled by the bravery Mary Johnson shows in ripping the bandage off her wounded but healing soul and exposing her experience as a Missionary of Charity to the world. Mary's journey from enthralled teenager to disillusioned adult was a long and tortuous one. In her memoir, she explores the hidden world of life in service to the church without regard to protecting herself from the sting of revealing her weaknesses, her "failures", and her humanity. She exposes much of what I have long thought was wrong with the structure of the Catholic Church, and she does it in a way that reads more like a novel than a memoir. I was captured by her writing style and her story. I wanted the story to take different twists and come to a happier resolution - even while I knew that her story would not take that easier path. I felt her pain, her indecision, her frustration, and her confusion as though I was right there with her. My hope for the future is that the Catholic Church will come to realize that those who dedicate their lives to the Church need to maintain their humanity, their self-worth, and their sexuality. Mary's book throws into stark light the damage that can and is done by attempting to suppress these sides of the human condition. I applaud her frankness and her struggle to get back to herself.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susan Chapman

    If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be a nun, you must read this book. Even if you have never given it a moment’s thought, you should read this book anyway – it’s that good. Mary Johnson provides a window on a way of life that few of us understand and, if you are paying attention, the reader will also do a little work along the way. I was rooting for her as she struggled to balance her very human feelings with her vows and the many, often conflicting, rules of her order. It came a If you have ever wondered what it would be like to be a nun, you must read this book. Even if you have never given it a moment’s thought, you should read this book anyway – it’s that good. Mary Johnson provides a window on a way of life that few of us understand and, if you are paying attention, the reader will also do a little work along the way. I was rooting for her as she struggled to balance her very human feelings with her vows and the many, often conflicting, rules of her order. It came as no surprise to me that there is political maneuvering in the church; the role of women in the church is out of kilter; living a life of poverty/chastity/obedience is really, really hard; and let’s face it – some nuns are nicer than others, but Johnson handles these topics with remarkable deftness, insight, and humor. This would be a great book club selection – I’m going to recommend it to mine.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Margarita

    What soulful sustenance! For me this was a timely book, having only just finished reading 'Mother Teresa: A Complete Authorized Biography' by Kathryn Sprink I was left questioning what life as a Missionary of Charity was really like. I'd found it hard to believe that Mother always shined the way it was written, without inside knowledge about her dogmatic decision to believe and insistence on Church teaching, regardless of the suffering or injustice these and similar teachings perpetuated. This b What soulful sustenance! For me this was a timely book, having only just finished reading 'Mother Teresa: A Complete Authorized Biography' by Kathryn Sprink I was left questioning what life as a Missionary of Charity was really like. I'd found it hard to believe that Mother always shined the way it was written, without inside knowledge about her dogmatic decision to believe and insistence on Church teaching, regardless of the suffering or injustice these and similar teachings perpetuated. This bothered me. Here I found the answers to my questions, and read An Unquenchable Thirst, all 523 pages of Mary Johnson's search for love, service and meaning, in five short days. A valuable and powerful autobiography written to remind us that so much depends on the stories we tell ourselves, and on the questions we ask, or fail to ask. Thank you Mary for finding the courage to tell all your secrets. An invaluable read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Annette (Podvin) Gagne

    Initially I found the book to be very interesting...but as it progressed I realized it was "just another story" of a former religious with an axe to grind. It has always been known that the rule of the MC's is very strict, but it seems that it took Ms Johnson 20 years to realize that she was not nun material. I struggle to finish this book as it was painful to me to see the deterioration of her life with the sisters. I can't help but think that the situations involving failures in chastity make " Initially I found the book to be very interesting...but as it progressed I realized it was "just another story" of a former religious with an axe to grind. It has always been known that the rule of the MC's is very strict, but it seems that it took Ms Johnson 20 years to realize that she was not nun material. I struggle to finish this book as it was painful to me to see the deterioration of her life with the sisters. I can't help but think that the situations involving failures in chastity make "Donata" a very one faceted individual as there are multiple virtues that one must work on in the journey to holiness...I find it a tragedy that those people who have a positive experience with religious formation are looked upon as oddities...and made to appear "less than truthful" We must remember that "many are called, but few are chosen...It is a shame that books written about positive and enlightening lives in religious community do not sell more volumes....

  16. 5 out of 5

    Xenia

    This is a painful story of Mary Johnson's efforts to be a good nun for twenty years, and finally accepting that it was not for her. It was hard for her to leave when Mother Teresa herself looked her in the eye and asked her why she had to go. I wish that she had spent more time writing about her experience of returning to the world and her family. I would have liked to know what it was like to go to university, meet her husband, make love for the first time, and all the other late-in-life discove This is a painful story of Mary Johnson's efforts to be a good nun for twenty years, and finally accepting that it was not for her. It was hard for her to leave when Mother Teresa herself looked her in the eye and asked her why she had to go. I wish that she had spent more time writing about her experience of returning to the world and her family. I would have liked to know what it was like to go to university, meet her husband, make love for the first time, and all the other late-in-life discoveries. But she skipped directly from leaving the convent to ten years later, and then the book ended. It seems there is more story to be told. I like Mary's writing and wonder if she will write any more books.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    As a cradle Catholic, contemporary of Mary Johnson, and an admirer of Mother Theresa's work I found this book compelling! I could not put it down. I found myself annotating the pages as I read. I questioned, I had insights, and I increased my spiritual journey! Thank you for having the courage to write such an honest memoir.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tina Grozelle

    This is the first memoir I've read that was a page turner (for me). This book will provide you with lots of food for thought and some good topics to explore and debate with friends. It is sad, inspiring, depressing, and hopeful....all wrapped up in one! We can learn something about how to live (or not to) from the examples from Missionaries of Charity and Mary herself.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Net Galley has a lot of books, over 1700 at this moment, and I tend to take period sweeps through it, requesting anything that looks interesting, based on the title, author or cover. I do not always click through to read the entire description of the book as NetGalley is a free service for bloggers, and selecting a book from them does not obligate me to read or review it. Had I clicked through and read the description, it is likely I would not have chosen this book. As you can see above, the aut Net Galley has a lot of books, over 1700 at this moment, and I tend to take period sweeps through it, requesting anything that looks interesting, based on the title, author or cover. I do not always click through to read the entire description of the book as NetGalley is a free service for bloggers, and selecting a book from them does not obligate me to read or review it. Had I clicked through and read the description, it is likely I would not have chosen this book. As you can see above, the author ends up leaving not only the Missionaries of Charity but also the Catholic Church. Realizing that as I began to read probably colored my opinion of the book. Once upon a time, many years ago, I wanted to be a nun. I knew they had to pray a whole lot, but they also didn't have to get married, and at the wise old age of six or seven, I knew I didn't want anything to do with boys, and the nuns I knew were very nice. I hung onto that dream for many years. In high school I read Kathryn Hulme's The Nun's Story (which was made into a movie starring Audrey Hepburn), the story of a young woman who joined a Belgian convent in the 1920's and left during WWII. We followed her from her first days as a postulant to the day she left the convent. We learned about convent traditions, rules, politics and watched the main character get too close to a man with whom she worked. That book (and boys, who I later realized weren't so bad after all) convinced me that I didn't want to be a nun. Still, I had a hard time reconciling what I read in that book to the lives I saw the Daughters of Charity, who staffed our parish school, live. Later I read several "I left the convent behind" stories and figured that there had to be some truth to that story, at least at some time in history. Mary Johnston's story in An Unquenchable Thirst: Following Mother Teresa in Search of Love, Service, and an Authentic Life is pretty much a clone of those books. She entered the Missionaries of Charity in the mid-1970's after falling in love with Mother Teresa via magazine articles. She began as a aspirant Bronx New York and then spent her novitiate in Italy before being sent back to the US briefly. She spent the rest of her 20 years with the Missionaries of Charity primarily in Italy. We follow her as she spends hours in prayer, works with the poor and adapts to bathing in cold water in a bucket. We learn that she attended Mass daily and confession weekly. She had to accept criticism from her superiors without question. Sisters were not to touch each other unnecessarily nor become special friends with any one sister. They had to ask permission for just about everything and had very little personal freedom. The Superior's word was law and more than a few of the Superiors weren't all that nice and seemed to her to be more interested in promoting a personal agenda than the agenda of the order; and instead of promoting the Christian virtues of faith, hope and love in the sisters under them, they promoted the primary convent virtue of obedience. After years in the convent, Johnston violates the vow of chastity, first with two Sisters (not at the same time) and then with a priest. She then decides God is calling her to leave the MCs. I found the summary above a little misleading. I never got the impression, reading the book, that Sr. Donata was close to Mother Teresa. I definitely thought she wanted to be; as a matter of fact, when she mentions Mother Teresa visiting, her main complaint was that she didn't get enough one-on-one with her, and on an occasion when she traveled with Mother Teresa, she later realized she never really got to talk to her on the trip. I have no doubt that it takes a very special person to live the life of a Missionary of Charity. The chosen poverty, with the resultant bad food, cold bucket baths and cots in a communal non-air conditioned dormitory is enough to scare me away, even without chastity and obedience. That being said, the book is obviously written by someone who left--someone who didn't fit in and wasn't happy. I wonder how much of it would be like reading a description of marriage by a divorced woman? For example, what's the difference in the following: Woman 1: I called and told my husband that I found the perfect sofa for the living room. He told me I couldn't have it. Woman 2: I called and told me husband that I found the perfect sofa for the living room. He said "That's wonderful. If we save $50 dollars a month in the furniture fund, we'll be able to get it before the end of the year". For all we know both husbands could have said the same thing--neither woman has a new sofa in her living room right now. A woman who is in love with her husband "gets" to be physically intimate; one who barely tolerates him "has to be". Mary Johnston mentions at the end of the book that not only did she leave the Missionaries of Charity, she also left the Church, but she doesn't really go into what prompted that except to say that one day she asked God to show Himself to her and she heard a small voice said "Look inside yourself. God is like the best parts of you", and that from there it was a small step to "God is the best parts of you" and that stories about God no longer ring true and "physics and literature and music feel so much more honest than theology". I know Johnston isn't looking for my sympathy, but she has it, and not for what she endured during her time with the MC's. I debated on how to rate the book. It was an interesting, well-written book. It was also a not-so-thinly veiled attack on the Catholic church in general and the Missionaries of Charity in particular. I guess I'll give it a C+.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel M

    I'm finding it hard to write a review on this book, since my feelings on it are very mixed. I always appreciate an honestly-told experience, and I think Mary Johnson's account of life as a Missionary of Charity is nothing if not honest. Many times, her candidly expressed questions resonated deeply with me, and many times, the conclusions she came to pushed my buttons and led me to more questions. I stumbled on this book looking for a devotional related to Mother Teresa, and quickly saw this cove I'm finding it hard to write a review on this book, since my feelings on it are very mixed. I always appreciate an honestly-told experience, and I think Mary Johnson's account of life as a Missionary of Charity is nothing if not honest. Many times, her candidly expressed questions resonated deeply with me, and many times, the conclusions she came to pushed my buttons and led me to more questions. I stumbled on this book looking for a devotional related to Mother Teresa, and quickly saw this cover and made a snap judgment that this was that type of book (it definitely was not). However, it did bring up some questions: 1) Mother Teresa and the superiors in the book often stressed the importance of obedience to one's superiors as being something the sisters should receive as coming from the will of God, but Mary begins to challenge this point of view as she sees that sometimes her superiors are motivated by power, greed, or politics. Is it better to trust blindly that God is able and does work perfectly through the hands of imperfect people, or better to trust our own instincts and discernment of a situation - or is it a combination of both? I can see both how obedience in our faith could be very good for us spiritually (helping break down the walls of our pride, helping us to see that we are small in connection to God's plans, helping demolish our desires to be great and to be saviors of our own instead of "a pencil in the hand of God" as Mother Teresa put it) but also damaging, when the person in a position of power is able to continue to do evil things without questioning. We often choose one way of obedience over another, either by taking the extreme of trusting no one but our inner voice, or what we believe Scripture or God might be telling us, or taking the extreme of trusting authority without question. Somewhere in the middle seems the best path, but how do we find that middle? 2) Mary showed aspects of Mother Teresa's humanity that, at times, caused her to see her as a saint, and at other times, made her question Mother Teresa's approach. Examples - when Mother Teresa mentions as a joke that the sisters should die as soon as possible because the Pope was canonizing "everybody," and Mary thought this revealed a desire on Mother's part, not just for holiness, but for recognized holiness. But at other times, Mary marveled at Mother Teresa's tirelessness, her endless thirst to love and serve the poor. I wondered if this more intimate view of Mother Teresa might damage how she appears to me, as a modern saint. It didn't. Another reviewer mentioned that it was surprising to see that, contrary to her vision of Mother Teresa walking the streets of Calcutta every day, she was often on planes, going back and forth to the convents of her order and visiting the MCs. I found myself marveling on how much Mother Teresa packed into her life, how many places she went, and how hard she worked. Mary also wrote that, in part because of Mother Teresa's faithfulness to the pope and to the teachings of the church, she thought Mother Teresa was allowing herself to be held back from the highest holiness, because she wanted to be approved of by the church and church leaders. That seemed to me a very shallow and unlikely take on Mother Theresa's motives for respecting and promoting the teachings of the Catholic faith. 3) The other big theme that emerged for me is a confusion about sexuality experienced by many of the people in religious life. Many of the sisters appeared to mistrust it and themselves. The alternatives I saw presented in the book were to completely suppress one's sexuality by not allowing any physical touch at all, and acting out sexually - neither of which strikes me as the answer for how to live a chaste, celibate life in a healthy way. I disliked Mary's apparent conclusion that she had to act sexually outside of the vows she had made in order to feel whole, healthy, and loved, and saw it more as a reflection of her calling to the married life than as a blanket statement that celibacy is unliveable. 4) A final theme that came to mind while reading this was the idealized version of a vision of life, versus its lived reality. I've read a lot about Mother Teresa's "call within a call," her spiritual vision, her meditations on the thirst of Jesus, and how to serve the poor. To hear her thoughts and words is a beautiful, life changing experience. Learning about the Missionaries of Charity through Mary's eyes, I was struck by her struggle between the attraction to that ideal, and to the vision, and the experience of living the daily realities of religious life, which often fell short: sisters could be catty and small-minded, they might be gossipy, a lot of time had to be spent on administrative duties or folding clothes, not just working directly with the poor out on the streets. It seems to me now that one of the hardest things in living out your vocation in life is keeping the vision always in your heart, while also being faithful to the less beautiful daily realities of that call. I think we often are drawn either to disillusionment and bitterness, losing the vision altogether, because we get bogged down in the drudgery and the details, or we can't connect with or commit adequately to the reality before us because it doesn't match how great the vision appeared in our heads. Altogether, I'm glad I read this book because of how much it made me think!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Grace Tjan

    This book's cover sports a suggestive subtitle: "Following Mother Teresa in search of an authentic life", I imagine that an unsuspecting reader who picks this book in the Spirituality aisle in a bookstore would probably think that it is one of the seemingly endless books extolling the virtues of 'The Living Saint of Calcutta'. If so, after reading this memoir, he or she will either feel surprised, justified or appalled, depending on what their preconceived notions of the woman whom thousands of This book's cover sports a suggestive subtitle: "Following Mother Teresa in search of an authentic life", I imagine that an unsuspecting reader who picks this book in the Spirituality aisle in a bookstore would probably think that it is one of the seemingly endless books extolling the virtues of 'The Living Saint of Calcutta'. If so, after reading this memoir, he or she will either feel surprised, justified or appalled, depending on what their preconceived notions of the woman whom thousands of her sisters simply called 'Mother' was. According to Mary Johnson, a.k.a Sister Donata, who spent twenty years as a 'spouse of the crucified Christ' in the Missionaries of Charity, Mother was never this woman who 'had no worries and always shone with joy', as others in her order has claimed, instead, she was sometimes 'angry, confused, worried, disappointed and lonely' --- and liked candy --- in other words, she was human, subject to the same human frailties like the rest of us. One of the most striking of these human qualities is her capacity of doubting the existence of the very God that she so fiercely served, something that only came out in a book written by the priest who was her spiritual confidante years after her death (but prior to her beatification). "Where is my faith?", Mother Teresa wrote, "--- even deep down, right in, there is nothing but emptiness & darkness... --- I have no faith. --- I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd my heart --- & make me suffer untold agony. So many unanswered questions live within me --- I am afraid to uncover them --- because of the blasphemy". This doubt tormented her until the day she died. Who would have known? Those who want to keep her on a saintly pedestal downplay this life-long crisis of faith and spin it into a 'trial of faith', a sort of a final obstacle course towards sainthood. But Mary Johnson, who had extensively studied and taught Mother Teresa's theology as a novice mistress, suspects that "Mother's refusal to uncover those questions may cause her darkness to linger". And not only did this unresolved issue caused great personal suffering for her, but it also gave her an idea that "her feelings of 'torture and pain' pleases God. Over the years, she encouraged her spiritual daughters to become 'victims of divine love'. Mother often tells the sick, 'Suffering is the kiss of Jesus' ". This translated into deliberately wearing sandals that are too small for years until her toes became deformed, harsh 'discipline' (self-scourging with knotted ropes and spiked armbands), deliberate sleep deprivation and other 'sacrifices' for her nuns, and --- if these reports here https://www.facebook.com/missionaries... are accurate --- substandard, even inhumane care in her hospices. If human suffering, even easily preventable ones, pleases God, why should terminal cancer patients get powerful analgesics that can relieve their pain?* The most interesting part in this book for me is Mary's description of the effect of such ethos on the nuns, including herself. Starved of even simple friendships (the sisters may only love their 'crucified spouse'), some of the sisters, including Sister Donata, got into sexual relationships with other nuns and priests. Required by their vow to obey blindly, some nuns, especially the superiors, became harsh, petty enforcers of dogma and authority. Sisters were encouraged to snitch on priests who betrayed even the slightest deviation from the approved party line --- and on other sisters. Curtains in the basement of a mission house became a fiercely contested isssue. On the other hand, a known sexual predator was allowed to take final vows, a good priest's career was almost destroyed for nothing, and the door towards higher theological education for the sisters was slammed shut because "statistics showed the more education the sisters receive, the more likely they were to leave". "So much depends on the stories we tell ourselves, and on the questions we ask, or fail to ask". Indeed. * There are refutations, or at least justifications, for these accusations. Honestly, I don't know how valid these criticisms are, but if true, how appalling!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Steil

    You will never think of Mother Teresa in the same way again after reading this book. Mary Johnson's brilliant and shocking memoir gives us an intimate portrait of the cloistered world of the Missionaries of Charity, the organization Mother Teresa founded in 1950. Mary writes with immense bravery and honesty, sparing herself nothing in telling her story. Eager to devote her life to helping the poor and downtrodden, she joined the MCs at the tender age of 17 and spent twenty years as a sister in t You will never think of Mother Teresa in the same way again after reading this book. Mary Johnson's brilliant and shocking memoir gives us an intimate portrait of the cloistered world of the Missionaries of Charity, the organization Mother Teresa founded in 1950. Mary writes with immense bravery and honesty, sparing herself nothing in telling her story. Eager to devote her life to helping the poor and downtrodden, she joined the MCs at the tender age of 17 and spent twenty years as a sister in the organization. The life of a nun is not at all what I naively expected it to be. I’ve always had this romanticized notion that nuns could spend all day in quiet meditation, set their own schedules, devote themselves to good works, and bond meaningfully with their sisters. Yet Mary writes of a daily schedule that left little time for sleep, let alone private time or friendship. In fact, privacy was nonexistent. One of the things I found most shocking was the prohibition against friendship. I don’t know how any person survives life without meaningful relationships. Yet these sisters are asked to live without any kind of touch, which strikes me as deeply inhumane. I found myself thinking, wouldn’t the sisters have much more energy and time to devote to serving the poor if they were allowed to sleep eight hours a night? And have friends to support them when they struggled? And people to listen to their problems without judgment? And not have to deal with unreasonable demands of their supervisors? The schedule demanded of the sisters seemed so inhumane and counterproductive. I was also shocked by the cruelty of so many of the women. I’ve always sought out the company of women and female communities, because that is where I have felt the most understanding and support. So I found it astonishing that an all-female community could be so terrible to its members. And unfair! It was so frustrating to have an idea of the contributions that Mary, with her intellect and her heart, could have made to various communities and countries, and to see her constantly denied the chance to use her potential. As a reader I felt desperate for her to have a chance to go work directly with the poor and be free of all of the administrative politics. I don’t understand why a religious life requires the denial of both heart and mind. As Mary mentions in the book, what kind of faith can it be – how strong is it really - if it cannot survive education and argument? When Mary writes about a priest who said that the more education women received, the more likely they were to leave the sisterhood, it reminded me of the women I once mentored in Yemen. What I found in Yemen was that the more educated a woman was, the more likely she was to want to abandon the country. She was also more likely to be miserable with her plight. Uneducated women who were given no choices with their lives often expressed more contentment. But what does that mean? Is their happiness real? Or only the result of a lack of awareness that they could have any other life? These are among the many provocative questions raised by this book. I think that it’s somewhat true that having too many choices can be a burden – I feel this when I walk into a deli in NYC and I see 479 kinds of sugarless gum and iced tea. It’s overwhelming, especially after living in developing countries. Mary Johnson is a better person than I could ever dream of being. She has a genuine longing to help others and improve the world. If even she could not ultimately continue a life as an MC, I can’t help but question the organization itself. This book is a fascinating read whether or not you have any interest in religion and regardless of how devout you are. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in what it means to be human.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This book surprised me. There were a few things that were obvious about where it was going, but I didn't expect most of it. I expected Johnson to have moved quickly through her time with Mother Teresa, for it to have been a quick path like in so many of those "my year of" books. I didn't expect this to actually be about a Missionary of Charity who had met and worked under Mother Teresa. I know, it's right in the book description but I have so many books that I've put on my TBR at the library that This book surprised me. There were a few things that were obvious about where it was going, but I didn't expect most of it. I expected Johnson to have moved quickly through her time with Mother Teresa, for it to have been a quick path like in so many of those "my year of" books. I didn't expect this to actually be about a Missionary of Charity who had met and worked under Mother Teresa. I know, it's right in the book description but I have so many books that I've put on my TBR at the library that I don't always remember what had interested me about them when I finally get around to reading them. It's also possible that I didn't read the description at all because this is exactly the kind of title that I absolutely cannot resist. Anyway, this is not about a single experimental year or any other short period where one woman was inspired by Mother Teresa to just do better. This is a woman who was inspired to follow Mother Teresa by becoming a Missionary of Charity and devoting her life to it. As one might expect, becoming a Missionary of Charity isn't easy and it doesn't just get easier once you are one. The life is hard and the lessons are harder. There are crises of faith and great renewals. There are opportunities lost and taken. More than anything, the books is a lesson in what it can mean to serve at an extreme level and that suffering can be many things. I was fascinating by many concepts of service and suffering throughout the book. There is an idea that we can choose to suffer out of love by letting someone else have the position we would rather have or keeping quiet about a small thing that bothers us or quietly helping someone even when it's inconvenient to do so. I found the idea that giving generously means giving until it hurts rather than just giving from our wealth. Johnson passes on not only the wisdom of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity, but the pains as well. She talks about a discipline in pain that I cannot imagine but that I also understand. The sentiment reminds me a lot of the people I know who have cut themselves when depressed. There are struggles with each other and with priests and in trying to help communities or individuals. It's a long audiobook, but totally worth it. On the other hand, I don't recommend it for anyone who isn't already religious. I've had non-religious friends who look at me with bewilderment with just that I'd wake up early enough to get to church on Sunday or believe in anything that Bible says, let alone understand someone who would devote their lives in the service of Jesus. I know there are those out there who would understand, but I wouldn't be comfortable recommending it. For those who are religious, it is a really interesting book about devoting life to Jesus and service and trying to live into even the most strict of his words. I don't think it even matters what religion, either, because some people like to study parallels of doctrine and faith.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Not sure what to think of this book. It was recommended by the director of our church, who was a sister herself - in a different order - to learn more about the Missionaries of Charity. Although this book was long, I tore through it. But it was sad. Although the author talks about instances of enlightenment and knowledge of G-d being with her, mostly she seemed depressed about being in the order. The rules and the politics were crazy and the book was disillusioning. I understand why women from I Not sure what to think of this book. It was recommended by the director of our church, who was a sister herself - in a different order - to learn more about the Missionaries of Charity. Although this book was long, I tore through it. But it was sad. Although the author talks about instances of enlightenment and knowledge of G-d being with her, mostly she seemed depressed about being in the order. The rules and the politics were crazy and the book was disillusioning. I understand why women from India joined the order - it is a way for them to get free from their situation, have some autonomy (paradoxically, since one of the rules of the order is to lose the sense of self), get some education and do good in the world. Given that many of the sisters were coming from the Indian culture, the roughness and strictness of many of the sisters made sense. But I never understood why this American woman would join the order and go to final vows. I wish the book had explored more of this beyond saying the author had seen an article about Mother Teresa in Time Magazine when she was in high school. There were many other things that I didn't understand. Why was Niobe allowed to take final vows (why did she even want to?) given that she was a predator that didn't even seem to do much work or be very pious, but then Sister Donata was censured for "fornication" when she held a severely depressed sister on her lap? The goings on behind the walls may have been shocking, but to me the most shocking thing in this whole book was the time when a priest told Sister Donata's superior what Sr. Donata said in confession. All other vows can be bent or broken, but the confidentiality of the confessional, in my mind, is the most sacred that there is. Why was this priest still allowed to be a confessor? Many in the order were worried about orthodoxy, but they weren't worried about this most egregious break with church rules? I was reading this book while also reading A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community. Very different orders, extremely different experiences. Yet both women spoke often of feelings of transcendence and G-d speaking to them. Goes to show that there really are many different paths to the same goal. And now I understand the other side and how the investigation of the American sisters, started in 2012, could happen. The American sisters and priests portrayed in Sr. Simone's book are the ones that the MC's in Sister Donata's book were railing against. They even dabbled in Zen practices! So, I guess Mary Johnson's book helped me understand the wider global church, at least.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ann Hoff

    This book is rather long, and at first, it is a little dry. However, I found myself mesmerized by the authentic voice of the author, sometimes naive, sometimes pure agony. At 17 she decided to follow Mother Teresa. I would think that would lead her to India, but no, she went to Canada, and then to Rome to help train nuns. She tells the truth about what really goes on inside an order of nuns: the beating themselves with ropes every night, not being able to hug each other, or even give simple reas This book is rather long, and at first, it is a little dry. However, I found myself mesmerized by the authentic voice of the author, sometimes naive, sometimes pure agony. At 17 she decided to follow Mother Teresa. I would think that would lead her to India, but no, she went to Canada, and then to Rome to help train nuns. She tells the truth about what really goes on inside an order of nuns: the beating themselves with ropes every night, not being able to hug each other, or even give simple reassurance of a human embrace. The way the church would say they had no money so they could raise money even if they didn't need it, how they had to fair on their own without help from the church, the ins and outs of being a nun. In many ways, it seems that she did not totally mature with human relationships. She had a crush on both a father and a nun, but it wasn't even what anyone in high school would call a "thing". The best part is learning the HORROR of what the nuns go thru, how they are kept uneducated, a pawn for the Catholic church to basically be slave labor. They are told where to go, who they will be with, and have petty interactions with each other that cause intense suffering at times. She says how Mother Teresa was KNOWINGLY trying to become a Saint, doing what was needed to be nominated after death. The part of this book that will stay with me forever, is when Mary had an incredible revelation: That she did not want to identify or be married to the suffering Jesus, married to the Jesus on the cross, but rather her Jesus is the Jesus of the resurrection; a Jesus who loved life, was gloriously happy and knew that all experiences in the world were meant to be enjoyed. I found incredible strength in the fact that Mary actually could leave the church and make a decision for herself after she had been brainwashed for decades. She CHOSE to chose what way she was to live her life, not leaving God, but learning what God meant to HER. I will always be buoyed by her courage to do what she thought was best. I also am grateful that she shared her experience by writing the book. We are treated to a window into the life of the common nun, the thoughts of Mother Teresa, the workings of the Catholic Church. I know that this book is not welcomed by many in the Catholic Church. I forsee that if the church does not make changes to give the people who have taken up dedication of their lives to the church more input into their own lives, no one will make the choice to become a monk or nun in the future.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I'm not sure I would recommend the book as a whole and don't know how I rate it. This was a memoir by a woman who joins Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity order (becomes a nun)after seeing Mother Teresa on the cover of TIME magazine, entering the convent at age 19. There was a predatory nun and a few other times I had to skip some pages due to disturbing/inappropriate content. My heart ached for these women who were trying so hard to do what God wanted them to do but who often felt conflict I'm not sure I would recommend the book as a whole and don't know how I rate it. This was a memoir by a woman who joins Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity order (becomes a nun)after seeing Mother Teresa on the cover of TIME magazine, entering the convent at age 19. There was a predatory nun and a few other times I had to skip some pages due to disturbing/inappropriate content. My heart ached for these women who were trying so hard to do what God wanted them to do but who often felt conflicted, lonely, powerless, and smothered. They were trying to be close to God but were required by their Rules to see many of the ways He blesses us as Temptations. There was a lot of politics, and blind obedience was required as the Sisters were to never think of themselves, but lose themselves to Jesus and dedicate all suffering to Him and never do anything that would seem self-serving. There were some beautiful thoughts on prayer and it was very interesting to get an inside glimpse at their lifestyle and of Mother Teresa. Much of the time was spent in training others or in following Rules. This Sister spent most, if not all, of her time in the US and Italy so she most likely had a different experience than those who served in Calcutta, Haiti, Africa, etc. but the nuns move around every year or so so they don't form strong attachments. SPOILER .... I was not surprised that the author lost faith in Catholicism but I was surprised that she no longer believes in God. Her conclusion was that she felt God was like the best parts of her thus God WAS the best parts of her. I feel like she definitely had the Spirit talk to her at times throughout the experiences she recounted which I liked reading about, reaffirming that God hears and speaks to all of His children, but while I often agreed with thoughts she had on the way to reaching a conclusion, I didn't always agree with her final "take away".

  27. 4 out of 5

    Allizabeth Collins

    Description: An Unquenchable Thirst is the autobiography of Mary Johnson, a woman in search of God, love, and her true-self under the influence of Mother Theresa's teachings. Review: I have to admit, I wasn't expecting this book to affect me so much, but Mary's story was really moving and genuine. The level of detail was astonishing, Mary's feelings and surroundings adding to an already intense journey for human understanding; her hopes, fears, and secrets permeating every page. I have never real Description: An Unquenchable Thirst is the autobiography of Mary Johnson, a woman in search of God, love, and her true-self under the influence of Mother Theresa's teachings. Review: I have to admit, I wasn't expecting this book to affect me so much, but Mary's story was really moving and genuine. The level of detail was astonishing, Mary's feelings and surroundings adding to an already intense journey for human understanding; her hopes, fears, and secrets permeating every page. I have never really appreciated the idea of convents or nuns, but I completely understand devotion, and when I consider the term, Mother Teresa does come to mind. I knew some basic information about her life, but had not considered her earthly contributions as of late, however, An Unquenchable Thirst sketched a life portrait that I had not expected. Not only does Mary Johnson recount Mother Teresa's graces, but also her flaws and failures - humanizing a woman who is so often only described as saintly. I love when a book, especially one detailing such a prominent figure, makes history relatable and enjoyable. No one wants to read about absolute perfection - an attribute the Earth knows not. Overall, I rather enjoyed Mary's story, minus a few grammatical/punctuation errors, and I am glad that her life ended up the way it did, (no spoilers). Recommended for open-minded readers who would like to know more about Mother Teresa and her followers... or those who want a look into the little-known and misunderstood lives of nuns/missionaries and those who choose to devote themselves to GOD. Rating: On the Run (4/5) *** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Knot (Claire-Edith) Telling

    I was impressed with the author's honesty and self-examination, as well as her charitable treatment (in the memoir) of the people who caused her pain. Having firsthand experience with life in an old-fashioned religious community, I was able to relate to many of her experiences--some with a fond smile, and others with a grim shudder. I could have done without the explicit descriptions of sexual activity. To my taste, it would have been sufficient to say it happened and describe how it affected he I was impressed with the author's honesty and self-examination, as well as her charitable treatment (in the memoir) of the people who caused her pain. Having firsthand experience with life in an old-fashioned religious community, I was able to relate to many of her experiences--some with a fond smile, and others with a grim shudder. I could have done without the explicit descriptions of sexual activity. To my taste, it would have been sufficient to say it happened and describe how it affected her without all the detail. But that is just a quibble and it certainly didn't ruin the book for me. My overall impression is that this is a sensitively written book by a woman who does not hide from facing her life and decisions head on. I liked it very much.

  29. 4 out of 5

    K T

    This memoir stayed with me long after I finished it. It was so interesting to learn about what it's like to be a nun. But mostly I was shocked to learn how much religious life can be about power and control for some of this drawn to it. Also remember how mother Teresa was said to be in a dark night of the soul for the entire second half of her life? I think this book shines light on why. It was her goal to be a saint! I mean she did good works and all, but for her own glory rather than the glory This memoir stayed with me long after I finished it. It was so interesting to learn about what it's like to be a nun. But mostly I was shocked to learn how much religious life can be about power and control for some of this drawn to it. Also remember how mother Teresa was said to be in a dark night of the soul for the entire second half of her life? I think this book shines light on why. It was her goal to be a saint! I mean she did good works and all, but for her own glory rather than the glory of God. No wonder He stopped speaking intimately with her. P.S. Mother Teresa didn't do good works when she upheld the patriarchy by being a woman in leadership who the Vatican could point to to prove that their anti woman policies weren't anti woman.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Margaretflynn

    I couldn't put this book down. It is well written and so very very honest. I highly recommend this read,especially for people who are searching for a faith of their own. This woman's ability to articulate living within a somewhat pathological framework of faith without harping and condemning the heirarcy is what I found extraordinary. I know so very well every issue that was raised here, and I am grateful to the author for having the courage to write about her experience. I have completed the bo I couldn't put this book down. It is well written and so very very honest. I highly recommend this read,especially for people who are searching for a faith of their own. This woman's ability to articulate living within a somewhat pathological framework of faith without harping and condemning the heirarcy is what I found extraordinary. I know so very well every issue that was raised here, and I am grateful to the author for having the courage to write about her experience. I have completed the book and feel as though I have lost a friend. Well done. Highly recommended! Not for everyone. If you lean to the right and are Roman Catholic, it might not be the book for you.

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