Date: May 4, 2001
2000 finalist for the Masters Literary Award, Mille Club
Award, Reviewers Choice Award for Sime-Gen's mainstream category
Spring 2001, semifinalist for New Millenium Literary Award,
it at Amazon
Literature and Fiction - Literary
Is The Place
America forgot about Utah.
Until the Olympics.
Until Elizabeth Smart.
kidnapped teen who briefly knocked the war in Iraq off the headlines
was the subject of a radio interview given by This Is The Place
author and Utah expatriate Carolyn Howard-Johnson. If you're
from Utah, you'll have to order the book online, because mysteriously,
it cannot be found anywhere in the state. It's easy to see why;
books that challenge an established religion such as the Mormon
Church the way This Is The Place does have traditionally not been
welcome. Utahians are missing out, because Carolyn Howard-Johnson's
lyrical book is a tough-love letter to Utah, and more importantly,
a lesson in tolerance.
generations of one large family are bonded by both kinship and conflict.
The heroine, half-Mormon, half-Episcopalian Skylar Harriet Eccles,
faces the heartbreaking choices of young women in the '50s, conforming
to the expectations of family and society or finding her own way.
She is ostracized by not being Mormon, and ostracized for being
Mormon. Even her friend Karren (who gets a tragic comeuppance when
Sky turns a deaf ear to her secret troubles) chastises her for not
being a good Mormon, saying, "I can't wait 'til you die so
that you find out you are wrong." Small wonder Sky, conflicted
over her marriage to full Mormon Archer Benson, wishes to leave
writing her family history, she discovers that the men and women
closest to her have faced the same choices in the past and also
rebelled against expectation in their own ways. Her Gram Harriet,
for instance, who turns away from Sky when Archer and Sky decide
to be married in St. Mark's Cathedral instead of the Mormon Temple,
dyed her hair red to stand out from her husband's first wife. Howard-Johnson's
ending, as poignant as Kate Chopin's The Awakening, shows we all
want to stand out, but we also need acceptance. We can help others
find it by reading this book and thinking of Utah.