Tuesday, March 3, 2015

complete, resolved, and fulfilled.

The Latter-day Saint community has a reputation for being unfailingly optimistic. This outlook on life permeates their literature, from Will Wonders Never Cease where a teenage boy survives alone in an avalanche, Dispirited where a young woman is faced with many challenges and overcomes all of them, to Mountains Between Us where two co-workers at a school for troubled teens navigate their personal lives as they help those around them and fall in love with each other.

Eliza is a young, vivacious social worker who gets her first big job at a school basically in the middle of nowhere. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she expects little to no contact with many other members. However, she learns nearly as soon as she gets there of the English teacher, Henry, who also happens to be a member. The story follows each of them as Eliza struggles with her familial issues of having a mother in recovery and her sister living as an alcoholic and Henry copes with his somewhat recent divorce, the growing distance between him and his son, and his sparked curiosity of his biological father he doesn’t even really remember.

Even though many of these situations are realistic, in the way each character reacts, the way they interact with each other, and their LDS perspectives and

how that influences their decisions, the optimism (as mentioned before) is almost unbelievable. The way everything just falls into place is unrealistic to most peoples, however cheese: the ‘right’ couple gets together, another beloved character joins the church, they find the missing girl just in time, Eliza's sister goes to the perfect rehab center, Henry finds a way to make peace with his biological father, and after time is able to reconnect with his son so easily. This attitude is very much influenced by LDS beliefs of how there is a perfect plan that resonates in the lives of every individual. Everything will work out, even if it is not what we expect, because that is part of the doctrine of the church.

It is definitely a quick, entertaining, and lovable read, but it leaves the reader almost uneasy with how perfectly everything ends. If you’re looking to feel complete, resolved, and fulfilled, this is the book for you.


  1. I wonder if this compulsive everything-will-work-out tendency we have as LDS people is entirely healthy or correct. I understand that having hope is good. But, what happens when our lives don't work out? Do we end up feeling like we've somehow done something wrong to deserve such abandonment?

  2. I liked how you compared this novel to the other pieces of literature we've read so far. It's interesting to compare the differences and see where LDS literature has gone/is going. It's also interesting to note the key similarities, like how positive all of them end up being.

  3. I noticed that she (and author Mormon authors) always want to justify every little thing or feeling a character has. "So and So was angry, but here's why it was totally understandable, blah blah blah, but of course, he could see both sides of the issue as well!" Instead of making everyone's emotions reasonable, they should just let the guy be angry for a second!

    Anyway, I liked the book too, but I think this goes along with what you are saying. Almost too tidy.