Since the debut of Nicole Hardy's 2011 New York Times Modern Love essay, "Single, Female, Mormon, Alone," in which she came out as a progressive 35-year-old virgin struggling to live within the strict gendered rules of the Mormon Church, Hardy's career has been on meteoric rise. Overnight, she gave voice to thousands of other women fighting to reconcile the dictates of their religions—no sex before marriage, plenty of kids, and a future as a subservient housewife—with a desire for autonomy, careers, even a kid-free existence.
Here in Hardy's hometown, her triumphs have felt especially personal. Every local writer sighed in envy over the success of her Modern Love column. They screamed in envy over her subsequent six-figure book deal. And yet it couldn't have happened to a more worthy writer. Anyone familiar with her work can tell you that Hardy is an accomplished poet and a hilarious, captivating reader. She is also a very nice person.
So I will say this as nicely as possible: Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin, Hardy's memoir about slowly rejecting the prescriptive tenets of her church—marriage, motherhood, and a happy career as a housewife—is a disappointment. It's not a singular flaw that drags the book down, but a collision of several: a seeming lack of direction on Hardy's part, poor editing, and, in some passages, plain bad writing, all of which contribute to the sense that Confessions is a compelling story drowning in words.