Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Mountains Between Realities

Caution: This post expresses a soapbox that I have a hard time avoiding. Sorry Jenny Proctor that you tapped into it unknowingly. Also, I'm not a hater, I promise.

I've never really been one for the quick, happily-ever-after, romance. To be frank, I can't stand them. I have no problem putting down a "delightful" novel if it is no more than delightful. Because of this, I had a hard time with Mountains Between Us. I feel the story itself, though possible in the context of a perfect LDS world, is rather unrealistic and frustrating.

It is nice to see a main female character like Eliza feeling empowered to make changes, help others, and pursue love. But even so, faith, hope, and effort, don't always lead to happy endings. 

I worry that such representations function as more than just a quick, pick-me-up or nice story. Is a novel like this symptomatic of the paradigms that we as LDS people live under? Don't get me wrong: living righteously and using the gospel to overcome challenges is totally viable. But, we overdo it; we simply cannot write a story that doesn't work out, or doesn't end in cookie-cutter happiness because if we do, where is our faith? But let me tell you, faith is more than everything working out, but maybe we forget that or wish it weren't.

I also worry that such novels isolate those who don't fit this model and in result equate their situation's results to their worth, efforts, and righteousness. It may seem silly, but most of us have felt unjustly treated or responsible for circumstantial suffering at one time or another. And sometimes things don't work out. So why don't we portray a faith-building reality as readily as we portray our faithful hopes?

Before my rant comes to an end, let me say, this was a nice book. The characters were nice, the switching perspectives were nice. Unrealistic, maybe. Nice, yeah. But sometimes I want more than nice.

P.S. The last phrase of the "back-cover-catcher" is "will these two independent spirits realize they are meant for each other?" And I automatically think, "wait, wait, wait, since when do we believe in soul-mates?" Oh yeah, this is a pseudo-representation of what we wish we believed.


  1. I agree that life is hard and sometimes things don't work out the way we want or expect them to. Portraying life in such a cookie cutter way can be damaging and discouraging. But we also have to remember that parting of having faith in Christ is having faith in the idea that evereything will work out eventually, it just might not happen until after this life.

  2. I really felt like this book showed more examples of things not working out (or at least taking several failed attempts to work out) than most LDS novels do. I thought that Henry's experiences with his birth father were a particularly good example of life going on when things don't work out. Henry never got to have a heart-to-heart with his father and generally screwed up the situation. And it didn't get outwardly or completely fixed. He was able to get things emotionally figured out, yes, but he still had to live with a sad situation. I felt that was very realistic and non-cookie-cutter.

  3. I love this post of yours and actually almost posted something similar to it, but dialed it down a bit. But I agree, trying our hardest doesn't always lead to happy endings. Ultimately, yes, there will be a happy ending according to our faith, but just because it's happy doesn't mean it's what we wanted (however much it might be what we needed). This is actually reflected in my personal essay, so your post really stuck out to me.Thank you.

  4. I completely agree that it was unrealistic, but for me it felt more realistic than the other books we read, so I was almost relieved.

    I like what you said about faith. Sometimes faith is knowing these are ok when they DON'T work out. And that can be more important faith to share because it's harder.

    Also, it kinda bothered me that Flip got baptized, which sounds terrible I know, but I wanted them to still be friends even with him rejecting everything.

    The End.