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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book of Mormon Girl Power Story Has Definite Potential

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Maybe it's because she's got three brothers.  Or because her best friend Ezekiel "Zeke" is a boy.  Or maybe it's for some other reason entirely, but 15-year-old Keturah wants to be a soldier.  All the teenage boys in the land of Zarahemla are gathering, forming an army they hope the prophet Helaman will command in the war against the Lamanites.  Keturah longs to be part of that army, to prove herself on the battlefield.  She knows she's at least as tough as her 12-year-old brother, who's getting combat training every day.  So, she watches the boys in secret, practicing the moves they're taught, hoping to learn enough to show Helaman she can fight just as well as any boy.  Maybe better.  

Not everyone is thrilled about Keturah's desire to fight.  Her mother and brothers would prefer she stick to something more ladylike.  Keturah's boldness angers Zeke, her intended husband, even as it amuses Gideon, an intriguing stranger who's training with the other boys from Melek.  Since she's the only girl in her household, Keturah's job is to help her mother.  Keturah has no intention of shirking her responsibilities at home; she wants to train in addition to doing her chores.  And she will—no matter how hard she has to work, no matter how much others disapprove, no matter what her nontraditional desires will cost her.  

As the bloodthirsty Lamanites make their way toward Zarahemla—a place full of adults who have buried their weapons of war, vowing never to take them up again—every member of the rising generation must do what he/she can to defend the land of their inheritance.  Keturah wants a chance to do just that.  If only she can show the men in charge that she means business.  It's a question of how far she's willing to go, how much she's willing to risk to get what she wants.  As the Lamanites march ever closer, Keturah must battle her own heart to decide whether she should do what's expected of her or follow her own path, even if it means endangering her reputation, her family's good name, and her future marriage to the man who loves her as much more than just a best friend.

Obviously, Daughter of Helaman by Misty Moncur, isn't the only novel ever to have been inspired by stories from The Book of Mormon; it is, however, the only one I've read.  For some reason, I shy away from this genre.  I don't have a problem with it per se, I just find it a little ... strange.  Is that weird?  I don't know, something about a Nephite boy uttering, "Whatever, dude" (or some such) just rubs me the wrong way, you know?  

 At any rate, Daughter of Helaman has the potential to be a really exciting and inspiring story, especially since it features a heroine who's not only tough physically, but valiant spiritually.  The problem is that Keturah's a little too tough.  She shows little vulnerability and even less humility.  Worse, she achieves her goal with almost no resistance—and in the middle of the novel, too!  Plus, Keturah spends the majority of her time in training, not doing any real life-or-death type fighting.  While her skirmishes with Gideon keep things interesting for awhile, nothing real really happens until the very end of the book.  Now, I'm guessing (guessing, because I don't actually know) this is because Moncur's setting us up for a sequel, but still, nobody likes stories where nothing happens.  Unfortunately, Daughter of Helaman qualifies.  I would have liked the book a whole lot better if Keturah actually had to work to achieve her goal, if she had to suffer a little humiliation, if she had to struggle a bit to get what she wanted.  As is, the heroine achieves her goal way too easily, the climax of her story comes way too soon, and I stopped caring about what happened to her way too early.  I wanted to love this one, I really did, but I got bored with it long before I had a chance to get into it, you know?  And that's a real bummer because I think this one has definite potential.  It just didn't quite reach it, not in my mind, anyway.             

(Readalikes:  Um, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:  C

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for violence and mild sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received a PDF of Daughter of Helaman from the generous folks at Cedar Fort via the Whitney Awards Committee.  Thank you!   

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a good book..thanks for the post.

    Stopping by from the list for the tour of THE 2012 BOOK BLOGGER'S COOKBOOK.

    Can't seem to find your post...will stop back later.

    My review is up for May 17...stop by if you like.



    Silver's Reviews


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