Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Portrayal Needs the Perfect Audience

"Will wonders never cease." That's what Kyle Hooper's mom, Lucille, would say to him whenever he did something surprisingly good in the new LDS novel from Douglas Thayer. Will Wonders Never Cease is about a fictional teenager named Kyle, who gets himself in a predicament, and has to realize what he believes to find the strength to survive.

I think representing Mormonism through fiction can be done quite well and accurately, but not all of it is going to be exact. What an author may create in their mind as to which LDS rituals should be insanely overdone in their novel may turn the reader away from the LDS faith. Especially if it was someone who is unfamiliar with Mormon culture. The same goes with the way Kyle Hooper sees his religion. I know that he is really starting to learn what he believes in this book and he's very sarcastic about everything, but there were many times that I felt like I should defend my religion. This book has to have the correct audience; the way that Kyle Hooper seems to make fun of it.

Personally, I would rather read a fiction novel over non-fiction more often than not. But take "Meet the Mormons" for example. If the stories in that movie were expanded with more details into a non-fiction book, I would instantly read it. Non-fiction would be a better way to portray the "Mormon experience" because it can provide real insight of real people and their lives. Sheri Dew also writes great non-fiction books on how the LDS religion works, her most recent one titled, Women and the Priesthood: What One Mormon Woman Believes. Non-fiction would be more accurate because of the ability to tell real stories, real experiences, real emotions, real solutions. Not just a scenario that was made up in someone's head.

Depending on the audience and the way they represent LDS culture, both non-fiction and fiction books can accurately portray Mormon experience. Will Wonders Never Cease needed a Mormon audience, who could recognize the sarcasm of Kyle Hooper's religious experiences.


  1. I have to admit I think I disagree with your point of view here. I really like fiction because of its ability to openly talk about a culture without having to worry about what readers will think about the main character. In nonfiction, however, I think it can be tough to be honest because the author has to be concerned about how the main character(s) could be portrayed or viewed by the readers.

  2. I agree that this book is best suited to a Mormon audience. I think some non-members would read this book and come away convinced that many of the negative stereotypes of Mormonism are true. Although it ends on a faith-promoting note, I don't know if many non-members would be able to take this away as their dominant impression of Mormonism, as the negative aspects (obsession with sex-ed, oppressive sharing of the gospel, etc.) are traced the most throughout the book.

  3. Audience is important. Just based on the title of the novel I think Thayer was correct and that this book was meant for teenage boys and their moms. Moms and teenage boys have a very interesting relationship that I feel Thayer portrayed very accurately. Moms have never been a teenage boy but have their best intentions at heart while boys feel like they are there to spoil their fun. I feel this relationship and Kyle's acceptance of Lucille being his mom in the end is an experince that isn't exlusive to Mormons only. So while it discusses Mormon culture in what I felt was a very clear and understandable way, the overall theme was much more universal to a different audience then just Mormons.