This is the Place
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Category: Fiction / General
217 pages; ISBN: 1588513521
Rating: 8/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Paul Lappen
This novel is about Mormon culture in 1950s Utah. It's also about the sting of bigotry and intolerance and how it can be disguised as love and acceptance.
Sky (short for Skylar) Eccles is a young woman who has several "strikes" against her. In the insular Mormon community, she is considered a half-breed (in her case, her father was Mormon and her mother was Protestant, the religion under which she was raised). She is unmarried; Mormon women are supposed to marry young, stay home and have lots of children. Sky agrees to marry a man named Archer Benson, a man about as true-blue Mormon as they come. But they decide not to have a Temple wedding (not to get married in the Mormon church), which doesn't go over well with her relatives. Not only does Sky work outside the home, she writes for the Other Newspaper in Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune, the one not owned by the Mormons.
Raised with something of a double identity, Sky is forced to look at her own family history, containing several instances of women who entered into mixed marriages. Hr career in journalism clarifies her vision of herself and her ancestors. Suffering a series of devastating events, Sky begins to see that her future is up to her, that she must find her own way in the world, find her own true north.
This is a fine piece of writing. It gives quite a look inside a culture with which few outsiders are familiar, it's a "quiet" book that says a lot, the characters are real people, and, overall, it's well worth reading.