The world is changing. In some ways it is becoming more tolerant and in other ways less. When less, we find 9/11
and Iraqi wars surely follow. When more, we find people of all ethnicities getting along just fine - as we always
have in America - and we'd do even better if the rabble rousing talk show hosts would temper their bile with a
In its underpinnings, Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen is about tolerance. Luckily, it
is a book of the sort that can make a difference for good in the world.
Of course, many read for pure entertainment. Those who do will also enjoy this book. They may hardly notice its
serious side for it has enough romance, humor and surprise (think! all those fringe members of polygamist groups!)
to keep us turning those pages.
A young doctor from Utah must find his own way after he falls in love with a fellow doctor in medical school and
is rejected by her. To serve and forget, he chooses a mountainous area in Tennessee after he graduates. As many
interesting characters reside there as he left behind at home. The story revolves around his coming to terms with
his antagonists - that is the whole closed polygamist community that his ex-girlfriend was born in and the
ex-girlfriend herself who is committed to her family and community. Along the way he encounters quirky prejudices
in his own family and his new-found community.
The story structure required that the polygamist pod provide most of the conflict, yet Jensen portrays them
sensitively. We not only learn about their way of life but see them as people who acted as they do because they
live behind a cultural barrier and, in their isolation, are fearful and ignorant of other ways. That may be one of
the reasons that most intolerance exists - for lack of opportunity to associate on a personal level with those who
are different from us.
There is a low moment in this novel somewhere after the second plot point when I feared Mormon Boys might
deteriorate into what I consider a typical Christian novel (I know, my prejudices are showing but there are so many
such novels with insipid, tell-don't show, predictable endings or, perhaps it is just that I have seen more than my
share of them). Anyway, hang in there. Christians will not be disappointed they did, but neither will the rest of
the reading public.