Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Something More than Romance

Jenny Proctor's essay Mountains Between Us focuses on the lives of two people, Eliza and Henry, and their experiences at Rockbridge Academy which is a facility/school for troubled teens.  Both being member of the Mormon Church, they often find their paths intersecting at school, church and romantically.  However, Henry is guarded due to a recent divorce and complicated past with his biological father and Eliza never knows where she stands with him.  She herself has faced her own struggles losing her father at age eleven, living with an alcoholic mother and dealing with now an alcoholic sister.  However, Eliza's outlook is much different than Henry's as she finds the blessings in life rather than focusing on her struggles.  After undergoing a change of heart, Henry finally lets go of the bitterness toward life and forgives his father and lets Eliza into his life, both romantically and spiritually.

Honestly, I loved this book.  Similarly to Will Wonders Never Cease by Douglas Thayer, Proctor writes a story that provides a look into the lives of members of the Mormon church. Mormon authors have often been described as cookie-cutter but rather I think Mormons are sometimes seen as cookie-cutter when that isn't necessarily the case.  Proctor showed that Mormons are just these always smiling, always baking cookies kind of people.  She provided a look into the life of a person who goes through trials, loses faith, finds love who so happens to be Mormon.  Most of the time, Mormon books are referred to as "cookie cutter" because the stories usually end with a happy ending.  And yes, this novel did.  But that doesn't make it a fairy-tale.  Henry wasn't able to say goodbye to his father, his ex-wife was still marrying his old friend and AJ was going to have another father figure.  Eliza's sister did get treatment but there is still that fear that she might fall back into old habits.  Nothing about this ending is butterflies and rainbows.  This endings show the blessing of opening yourself up to forgiveness and to others.  Yes, it did involve a romance as many Mormon and Non-Mormon literary works do but it was more than that.  A lot more and I commend Proctor for her work.


  1. I agree. I liked that the whole novel wasn't focused on Henry and Eliza's relationship. There was a lot of focus on other aspects of life as well as their relationship and to me that is as realistic as it gets.

  2. I like your idea that this isn't a "cookie cutter" novel. Even if people don't like the content, it's unfair to classify it as formulaic without really examining what it is that the novel does. Good point that this isn't really a fairy tale.