Seven years ago, Megan Phelps-Roper left the Westboro Baptist Church and everything she grew up believing after a conversation on Twitter made her begin to doubt the church's message.

Now, Phelps-Roper is giving the public a look into what life was like growing up in the church and what led her to leave in her new book, "Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church."

The book launches Tuesday and Phelps-Roper will be speaking at 7:30 p.m. in the Washburn Room at Washburn University's Memorial Union, 1820 S.W. Jewell Ave.

Phelps-Roper will be signing and reading excerpts from her book, and having a conversation with Washburn English professor Eric McHenry.

Last week, Amazon chose "Unfollow" as the "Featured Debut" as part of its Best of the Month list.

The last two chapters of the nine-chapter book detail what happened after Phelps-Roper left the church, as well as what happened with her grandfather, Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps.

When the idea to write a book was brought to Phelps-Roper's attention, she said she wasn't keen on the idea.

"A couple years after I left, I wrote an essay for my husband," Phelps-Roper said. "It was the story of how we met basically, but it also went a lot into my history. Part of the reason I wanted to write that was because I realized there was a lot about my past that he didn't understand, and we had talked about it a lot and I kind of realized it wasn't enough."

After writing the 14,000-word essay, Phelps-Roper sent it to McHenry, a friend of hers, and he gave her ideas and told her she needed to write a book.

"By the time I sent it to him and that was his response, I was starting to realize how valuable it was for me to interrogate those experiences while they were still fresh, and it was extremely painful in a lot of ways but it was also, I think, very much a part of my healing process," Phelps-Roper said.

McHenry is teaching a Kansas Literature class this semester with Phelps-Roper's book.

"I think it's an extraordinary story, and she's an incredible storyteller," McHenry said. "She's a really, really gifted writer. She comes from a family, say whatever you want about them, they are really serious about language and she grew up sort of steeped in a really effective use of language and rhetoric, and has always been, I think, a really strong, insightful critical thinker. She would be a really engaging writer writing about any subject. As it happens, her life story is also really, really interesting.

"The story of her growing up and then eventually leaving the Westboro Baptist Church is a fascinating, compelling and heartbreaking story, and so between the inherent interest in the story and her talent as a writer, it's just a really fantastic book and very moving and very unique. Nobody else has had an experience like that, and can speak quite so eloquently about it in a way that I think could really change the way people think about a lot of things from religious extremism to online dialogue and it's potential to bring about change."

As someone who grew up in Topeka, McHenry said he understands how easy it is to have an "unsparing or unforgiving opinion" of the church.

"I think one really important thing that her book does is show you how much more complex life is in that family, and in that church, than you might give it credit for being," McHenry said. "I spent much of my life looking at the Westboro Baptist Church thinking, 'These people are absolutely hateful and hate-filled. They are cruel, they are not arguing in good faith, they just want an outlet for their cruel impulses so they don't actually have a sincere religious belief. They simply have vanity and desire for attention that manifests in this weird behavior.' And reading the book and knowing Megan and Grace and others complicates that, you know, my understanding of the church in really important ways."

McHenry said he learned from the book that people inside Westboro Baptist are told the same things about those outside of the church, such as everyone outside of the church is cruel, hateful and living life devoid of meaning.

"I'm not trying to draw an equivalence here saying life in the Westboro Baptist Church is identical to life outside of the Westboro Baptist Church. I just think that, you know, so many of life's important lessons involve learning how we have more in common with people that we think are different from us than we realize," McHenry said. "I think Megan had to go through that process of learning how much she shared with people outside of the church in order to move beyond the church, and write a book that now in turn helps us to see that we have more in common with Westboro Baptist Church."

When asked what she learned about herself while writing the book, Phelps-Roper said she learned the importance of grace.

"I get to a point in the book where it's the moment that I first came to truly question and to doubt that Westboro was the place where God meets with his people," Phelps-Roper said. "So it's the first time I thought like, 'Oh my God, what if we're just people.' I wrote the feeling that I had in this moment was I was certain that whether Westboro was wrong or right, I was a monster. If Westboro was wrong then I had spent my whole entire life demonizing and antagonizing the rest of the world with all of the energy that I could muster. And if Westboro was right then I was a betrayer. Even by thinking this way, of questioning them, that I was betraying my family and this thing that I had dedicated my whole life to.

"So in that moment, the feeling that there was no redemption for me, there was no good that could come of this or me or my life, that I was this kind of tainted and corrupted thing, and in the process of going through all of these experiences — in remembering and writing about them — I was thinking a lot about grace for others, but also the importance of having grace for myself."

Phelps-Roper said during that time, she was able to look back at who she was five and 10 years ago and remember that what she was doing wasn't because she wanted to do evil, but because she wanted to do good.

Phelps-Roper said she hopes her book helps people realize that even people who do terrible things aren't inhuman, even though they might seem so.

"They are human beings that have had experiences that have led them to these destructive ideas, and that the way that we overcome that is not by isolating these people but by gentle encouragement, engagement and persuasion," Phelps-Roper said. "By the time I got on Twitter I had spent almost two decades on the picket line from the time I was 5 years old, standing on the corner by Gage Park, and the vast majority of people that I encountered were filled with hostility and anger. And that's completely understandable, you know, given what we were doing, but the thing that changed me wasn't that kind of shaming and hostility. It was the people who took the time to understand where I was coming from, why I believed what I did."

Phelps-Roper also hopes people take away hope for humanity from reading the book.

"Even if people who were raised from birth to condemn the entire world as I was, if even people like me can be changed by the power of human connection, I feel like anybody can," Phelps-Roper said.