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Monday, April 22, 2013

A review of a book that doesn't exist

Recently I read Sweethearts by Sara Zarr, for participation in my branch of the Forever YA book club. It was good and I'm looking forward to discussing it with my book club buds, but when I began reading it something about the setting made me wish it was a different book. See, the story is set in Utah, and the main character is not LDS. She mentions this specifically, since it sets her apart from her elementary school classmates, who are nearly all LDS. She's the object of bullying for various reasons--her weight and appearance, her friendship with another strange, bullied kid--and it's indicated that her bullies are Mormon children.

(via Zarr's website)

Ah! thought I. This is going to be really interesting, reading about life in Zion from the perspective of someone who isn't Mormon! Of course the book went in another direction, probably because writing that story would have forced the book into a very specific niche. But I'd like to read that story, very much. My own perspective is that of someone who encountered mild bullying because of being part of a peculiar people; I was the only LDS teen in my high school until junior year. I could never imagine what it was like to be surrounded by church peers, to go to seminary in your high school as a class rather than getting up at the crack of dawn and going to the chapel or to a member's house. And it never occurred to me to wonder what it was like for teens in Utah who weren't part of that community. In the past few years we've been getting memoirs and fiction written by Mormons and former Mormons (can we just call ourselves Formons?). Maybe at some point we will see a few stories written from the other side. Or maybe they already exist--are you aware of any, beyond the lifestyle pieces that pop up occasionally? Is there even a There there? Would you read a novel or short story or memoir about a stranger in the strange land of Utah?


postmormongirl said...

Check out Miah Arnold's work - she is a never-Mormon who grew up in rural Utah. I reviewed her book Sweet Land of Bigamy for my blog; she also had an interview on Huffington Poat where she talked specifically about being a never-Mormon in Utah. Very insightful interview.

Diana said...

Awesome, thanks for the tip!

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