Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Review: Don't You Marry The Mormon Boys

A few months ago, I was asked by Janet Kay Jensen to review her book Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys. My schedule got a bit out of whack this summer, but I have finally put a review together.

This is Janet's first novel, though she has quite a bit of writing experience. You can learn more about her at her website here.

Gather 'round, girls, and listen to my noise,
Don't you marry the Mormon boys;
If you do your fortune it will be,
Johnnycake and babies is all you'll see.
-old western folksong

When Andy McBride met Louisa Martin, he knew he had found the girl for him. There was only one problem: polygamy - a lifestyle that Louisa could not escape and Andy would not embrace.

As medical students at the University of Utah, Andy and Louisa fall in love - but can a mainstream Mormon and a Fundamental polygamist overcome the cultural barriers between them? Both realize that their choices will not only affect their own lives, but will also have an impact on their family, friends, and even their communities. Fearing that the sacrifices required of them would be too great, they go their separate ways.

Yet for Andy in Kentucky and Louisa in Utah, life does not go as they'd planned. While Andy is serving as a country doctor and trying to bury his pain, Louisa is coming to terms with the fact that all is not as perfect in her tight-knit community as she'd believed. As doctors, each will have to choose between keeping the peace in their communities or doing what they know is right. And someday, both will have to face their past and decide if they can make the sacrifice to be together.

Set in the red hills of southern Utah, the cosmopolitan center of Salt Lake City, the Smoky Mountains of Kentucky, and the lake-studded country of Finland, Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys is the heartfelt and engaging story about the power of love and acceptance in an ever-changing and often surprising world.

I enjoyed reading this book. The premise is certainly intriguing, and Janet does a wonderful job at painting a vivid picture of life in rural Kentucky and a polygamous community in Southern Utah.

Her characters are likable and real. The outcome of the relationship is easy to predict, but the real fun comes in trying to guess just how they will finally get there.

I did have a some issues with a few parts of the book. First, I struggled to accept that a polygamous society as staunchly patriarchal as those in Gabriel's Landing would allow one of their women to become a doctor, especially sending her to study in the outside world.

Much of the book is written with the two main characters leading separate lives while remembering the relationship they had during school. I felt that once the characters met up again, everything fell into place just a little too neatly, and received far too little attention.

Also, the ending of the book, which had the potential for significant drama and suspense, was instead played to a more comic effect, which I felt was out of character with the rest of the story.

Still, Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys was an enjoyable read, and I appreciate having the opportunity to review it.

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