Claire Hoffman’s memoir, GREETINGS FROM UTOPIA: Surviving a Transcendent Childhood(Harper), is about a five-year old abandoned by dad, living with her mother and seven-year old brother, Stacey at the Maharashi’s national headquarters for Heaven on earth, in Fairfield, Iowa. I’d argue most people don’t know Fairfield, Iowa, which is located smack in the middle of the US of A, is ground zero for the Transcendental Movement, but it is.

I’m familiar with the whole TM arrangement in Iowa, because I recently read a novel, ROOVILLE(Sparkpress), by Julie Long, who although it was a novel, based on her knowledge, must have had some personal interaction with the TM community in Fairfield.

Back to Claire, her mother really does the best she can at that point. They are given a safe place, schedules and rules to follow, and a philosophy: with the promise of enlightenment. But as Claire gets older, she starts questioning the whole commune deal, gets into drugs and wants to know what’s out there beyond Fairfield.

I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools, which I have fond memories of. We went to church every Sunday, followed by a large family dinner. Everything was fine until the Pentecostal movement swept through Catholic churches and my mother was touched by the Holy Spirit and “born again.” She decided to pick up, leave and follow God’s plan for her life.

Like Claire, I’m also a journalist, so I can read and write about religion from some perspective. It doesn’t completely eliminate the many questions I have about organized religion, particularly when it comes to isolating members.

I found Claire’s novel interesting. She approached her writing as a journalist. I felt after reading it, there’s much more to the story. Claire is honest, but GREETINGS FROM UTOPIA isn’t the whole story. I’ve read many memoirs and most have some element of interest, but to be a great memoir, the writer has to be willing to be completely raw on the page. Perhaps there will be a follow-up. There’s certainly enough material.

I applaud Claire for her success. She had an extremely tough upbringing, nothing was handed to her and she worked hard to achieve her success. Bravo, Ms. Hoffman.

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Claire Hoffman writes for national magazines and holds a Master’s degree in Religion from the University of Chicago, and a Master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University. She was a staff reporter for the LA Times and has reported for the NY Times. She serves on the board of her family foundation, the Goldhirsh Foundation, as well as ProPublica and the Columbia Journalism School. She lives in LA.

About Claire Hoffman

Find out more about Claire at her website and follow her on Twitter.

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Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Harper Publishers, we have one copy of GREETINGS FROM UTOPIA to giveaway. Just tell us if you have any thoughts about church or religion, or not just leave your name. We’ll pick a winner Tuesday.

Have a happy & safe 4th of July Holiday!








8 thoughts on “GREETINGS FROM UTOPIA by Claire Hoffman & GIVEAWAY

  1. This sounds like an interesting memoir – especially because I am not familiar with Fairfield, Iowa, and because I won Rooville from you (which I need to read asap!). I was raised going to church, but as an adult, I haven’t quite figured out where I belong religiously. Spiritually, I know I have a number of beliefs based on my core values and how I was raised, and I’m sure religion played a big part in those.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am from northwest Iowa so I am not familiar with Fairfield, Iowa. My preference on religion is believe what you believe – don’t force on someone else. If your religious leader drives a nicer car than you, then something may not be right. Growing up on Iowa, we went to church (Methodist) every Sunday but I don’t think I ever ‘connected’ but I live in a way that I think is honest – I don’t judge people, treat people the way I want to be treated, have manners, etc. I don’t think you have to go to church in order to be religious.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If going to church is fulfilling and gives you hope and faith that is important to the individual. I believe in following the golden rules and treating people with kindness and respect.


  4. I was brought up as a Catholic and I do not go to church, religion is felt in the heart and kindness in your mind. This book has 5 stars on amazon.


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