It’s been a hot minute since I did a Reading Roundup! I didn’t really blog much the last bit of 2017, and I’ve read quite a few books those months. In December, I read a lot of Christmas books, but I don’t want to review them now…it’s not in season. My grandma has this tradition of getting us a new Christmas-based book every year, so I’ve been looking through those recently. But, I did get a book from Blogging For Books in December and it’s high time I reviewed it! I also read three books this month, two for different book clubs I’m in, and one from Deseret Book.
Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews
**I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
I was so excited to learn that Mesu Andrews wrote another book! And, I didn’t even know that Isaiah had a daughter! So, I was very excited to get this! It was much bigger than Miriam and The Pharaoh’s Daughter. I am so happy I’ve been able to read and review one of Andrews’s books each year! I hope she keeps pumping them out.
Isaiah’s Daughter obviously takes place during the Old Testament books of Isaiah, Kings, and Chronicles. It is about a young girl named Ishma, who comes into Isaiah’s household. She grows up as a maid and comes to love Isaiah as a father. She becomes playmates with King Ahab’s son, Hezekiah. As they two grow up, they learn about faith, war, family, hard decisions, and God’s purpose for them in ancient Israel and Judah. Ishma is adopted by Isaiah and renamed to Hephshebah and marries Hezekiah as he becomes the next King (and the first righteous king in a long line of idol-worshipping Jewish kings). The trials and religious decisions continue as they both grow and learn.
It wasn’t as captivating as Andrew’s first two books. Maybe because I don’t know about this time period in the Old Testament as well and as concretely as Moses and Miriam. Maybe because Mesu stretched it for the vast majority of Ishma/Hephshebah’s entire life…I’d rather focus on a part of a character’s life rather than a “biography” of them.
However, I liked how Andrews dove into the prophetic character of Isaiah, the torn between wartone kingship and devout Jew character of Hezekiah, and the sharp but contemplating character of Ishma. I really liked how Andrews made Isaiah believe that most of his prophecies about Jesus were actually about Hezekiah. He believed that Hezekiah would be the righteous king to save Israel and Judah. When Hezekiah makes some bad decisions based on good intentions, Isaiah’s faith slightly faulters as he realizes the prophecies weren’t about Hezekiah. I love the religious morals and lessons of the book.
I will continue to read Andrews’s books as she continues to write them!
That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon’s Perspective on Faith and Family by Tom Christofferson
*This year, I joined a new bookclub started by my friend Danica. It is a Millennial Mormon BookClub. There are many of us in our 20’s and early 30’s that are struggling with our faith and or the culture and or institution of the LDS church. We are trying to put all our thoughts and feelings in order and still be faithful to the Gospel we believe in. So, we started a book club that will cover some difficult issues that are severely affecting the younger generations in the LDS Church (as well as other Christian denominations).
This first book that we are reading is about trying to reconcile homosexuality and the LDS faith. There are many controversies about this topic in the church. I have written about one here. Many homosexual LDS members feel that there is no place for them in the LDS Church and there are many stigmas against them by homophobic members. It’s just a hard topic because it isn’t really compatible with what we know of (or think we know of) our Heavenly Father’s doctrine or plan for us. After reading this book, and many articles from well-known Mormon bloggers and influencers, as well as General Authorities, my thoughts are these:
**I just don’t know. I don’t know why God made some people homosexual. I don’t know why his plan would cause them so much pain in the Church. I don’t know what the eternal plan or lesson is with this. I love my homosexual friends and members of my church. There will always be room on my pew for them, room in my house for them. But, being heterosexual and being Mormon, it will always be hard for me to understand, hard for me to truly empathize, hard for me to figure out how this situtation can and will be reconciled. My stomach is in knots with the recent Church policies on this. One the one hand, I understand that the Church comes from a standpoint of love and eternal perspective on this (albeit they may not have portrayed it that way) but on the other hand, being a Millenial, I want to righteously defend those who don’t fit the mold. My ultimate decisions on Gospel topics is: It’s not my job to “save” souls–that’s Jesus’s job and He already has through the Atonement. My job is to LOVE my brothers and sisters as Jesus perfectly love me and them. And that’s just what I’ll do.How does this gay Mormon reconcile his sexual orientation with his faith? Click To Tweet
Anyway, this book is about Tom Christofferson, the younger brother of one of the LDS Church’s apostles: Elder D. Todd Christofferson. He tells the story of how he grew up gay and in the Church–always trying to go above and beyond hoping that Heavenly Father would lift this gay burden from him. As a young adult, he realized he wasn’t happy and wouldn’t be happy unless he followed his desires, which were against church policy. So, he asked to be removed from Church records and found and loved a partner. He said he never lost his testimony though. As he got older, he started aching for the peace and fullness the Church had and he worked his way back into baptism. Sadly, he had to leave his partner for the Church, but he felt he made the right decision.
This was written raw and honest. There were many times were Christofferson said he didn’t know or didn’t like why the church made decisions as it did, but he had to have faith in God. I could really feel his testimony in the book. I could really feel the love he has for all his spiritual brothers and sisters. I could really feel (and really loved) the hope he had for his LBGTQ brothers and sisters. And I think that is the biggest take away: love them and hope for them.
I think what really helped Christofferson make his way back to the church was his family’s absolute love for him. They never shunned them, even though they were well-known LDS members–I mean, his brother is an APOSTLE! They always made sure to include his partner in all family events and even family pictures. They weren’t ashamed of the way he was or who he chose to love. They always supported him. I think that is what a model family should be.
I think that everyone should read this. Christofferson mainly wrote it for LBGTQ members of the LDS Church, or LDS who have a family member who has come out of the closet. But, I think that every Mormon, every Christian, should read this book.
The Gospel at 30,00 Feet by Dieter F. Uchtdorf
**I received this book from the Deseret Book Company in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
First, you have to know that I love Dieter F. Uchtdorf. He is my absolute favorite apostle. I love how he talks about Grace. He is soft and sweet and loving. He truly cares for all members of the Church no matter age, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation. I will always love Uchtdorf, that Silver Fox. Second, you have to know that he is a professional pilot. In almost all his talks, lectures, and sermons, he gives a flying analogy. So often has this happened, we Mormons wait for the analogy when he talks. So, he finally decided to write an entire book about the Gospel while comparing it to different aspects of flying planes. And, I can understand why. I’ve learned so much about the Gospel as a Jr. High teacher and as a mother. I can see anyone taking their career and the lessons it’s taught them and compare it to the Gospel.
This book was absolutely beautiful. I think that was my favorite part (beside it being written by Uchtdorf). The graphic design team did an absolute astounding job. I love the graphics and I love the style of pull out quotes. Each turn of the page was stunning. It made reading the book even more enjoyable.
Uchtdorf writes very easily. He divides things into topics and subtopics. He breaks the Gospel down very easily. Not only does he use flying analogies, but he also gives past experiences and uses scriptures and quotes from other General Authorities. Honestly, there was nothing new to me in the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless.
If you are a fan of Uchtdorf or know someone who is, this is the perfect gift for them.#Uchtdorf fans, you HAVE to read this book! Click To Tweet
Half-broke Horses by Jeanette Walls
**This was the book choice for my church congregation’s book club.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. From just the look and title of the book, I was expecting some early 20th century western girl “chick flick” of a book about her love for horses. I’m not really into those. But, about 20-30 pages in, I realized this book reminded me of These Is My Words.
This book is a fictionalized memoir of Jeanette Wall’s grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. It starts exciting with a flash flood 10 year old Lily helps her younger siblings survive. It begins in poor, sparse, ranching/homesteading Western Texas in the first decade of the 20th century. Lily stays in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas most of her life, with the exception of a few years in Chicago. This story is about her life as a tough woman growing up in Western life and learning tenacity and adaptability.A horse-breaking, poker-playing, tenacious, teaching, mothering, don't mess with me Western woman? That'd make a good book! Click To Tweet
Lily is a tough as nails, don’t mess with her woman. She loves to learn and loves to teach. She can’t stand injustice. I loved her personality and the different experiences she had. This book has a little bit of everything: mudhut homesteading, Chicago flapper life, Golden Age of Holleywood, one-room schools, cowboys and ranchers, the Great Depression, everything. I liked a lot of lessons Lily took away and taught her kids. But, I wish there would have been more depth with some different parts of her life. There were a few major events in her life that would have majorly affected her, but because Walls tries to include all of her grandmother’s life, it’s almost as if the character just brushes it off and moves on. But, it’s an easy and fast read and it’s very entertaining.
Lily actually ends up marrying a Jack Mormon, son of a polygamist (remember, it’s the beginning of the 20th century until the 1930s…offspring of polygamist Mormons were becoming adults and parents at this time. The Church officially stopped practicing polygamy in 1890 in order for Utah to become a State in 1896. However, many Mormons illegally practiced it and many groups branched off the church in Utah and left for other states/territories, as well as Canada and Mexico and those became the FLDS polygamist groups that still exist today. We members of the LDS Church do not recognize the FLDS as “Mormons”.). Lily also spends a year in a small polygamist Mormon community teaching them. But, she was basically fired and shunned by suggesting that the girls didn’t have to become polygamous wives and could believe anything they wanted. It was really interesting to read that part.
Overall, I really enjoyed all four books this month. I’m excited to already get started on February’s books! My goal is to read three, hopefully four, again.