Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Approaching Reality

Jenny Proctor's Mountains Between Us both respects the previously establish boundaries of the LDS novel while simultaneously taking some appreciated dives into uncharted waters for Mormon readers. The story circles two characters and the difficulties both bring to the table as their relationship develops. Henry, a recently divorced man with a complicated past with a biological father and a heart full of bitterness towards life, meets Eliza, whose positive attitude in spite of an alcoholic family and losing her father at the age of eleven inspires Henry to reconsider his condition. Set over the appropriate backdrop of Rockbridge Academy, a facility for troubled teens located in North Carolina, this is a story of personal forgiveness and redemption.

While both forgiveness and redemption are familiar themes within the genre of Mormon literature, they rarely tackle the issues with such honesty as I saw in this novel. For example, in previous novels we have read, I have sometimes felt that authors tip-toe around tough issues by addressing their existence through conversation or commentary between characters, but ultimately, no character faces the kinds of trials they discuss. I appreciated Proctor's portrayal of a divorced man looking to land on his feet after facing a challenge that is so dark in the eyes of the church. I appreciated the realistic reemergence of Henry's optimism, that doesn't come exclusively through diligent prayer and scripture study, but by learning to love someone again.

I will confess that I wish all Mormon literature would go further. It is a timid genre in my opinion. I don't mean to imply that these novels need offend or insult anyone, and certainly everything can be kept in a virtuous realm, but I long to read about characters deeply set in problems that do not have obvious happy endings. This novel was enjoyable for me because it approached that reality.

1 comment:

  1. I like the way you phrased the description of LDS literature as a "timid genre" and I completely agree. I think it would be refreshing to find something a little more real and I agree that this novel gets closer to what we as the audience might want to read.