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2021 Literary Escapes Challenge

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My Progress:


28 / 51 states. 55% done!

2021 Fall Into Reading Challenge

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0 / 24 books. 0% done!

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
(Hosted by Yours Truly!)

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6 / 25 books. 24% done!

2021 Popsugar Reading Challenge

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33 / 50 books. 66% done!

Booklist Queen's 2021 Reading Challenge

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35 / 52 books. 67% done!

2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

The 52 Club's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


39 / 52 books. 75% done!
Monday, October 21, 2013

Mormon Mentions: Jennifer DuBois

If you're not sure what a Mormon is, let alone a Mormon Mention, allow me to explain:  My name is Susan and I'm a Mormon (you've seen the commercials, right?).  As a member of  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon or LDS Church), I'm naturally concerned with how my religion is portrayed in the media.  Because this blog is about books, every time I see a reference to Mormonism in a book written by someone who is not a member of my church, I highlight it here.  Then, I offer my opinion—my insider's view—of what the author is saying.  It's my chance to correct misconceptions, expound on principles of the Gospel, and even to laugh at my (sometimes) crazy Mormon culture. 

Here we go:

In Cartwheel, a murder mystery by Jennifer DuBois, we meet Sebastien LeCompte.  The boy with the oh-so-pretentious name lives next to the accused murderer in the crumbling mansion his parents left behind when they were killed in a plane crash.  The wealthy young man is an eccentric and agoraphobic, not someone who ventures very far from home.  Naturally, then, he's confused when he hears a knock on his front door:

"Nobody ever came to his door anymore; even the Mormon missionaries were sick of him, having learned long ago that he'd do absolutely anything to detain them (he told himself that this was due to high-minded social experimentation, and not grave and crushing loneliness)" (70).*

Probably the most noticeable representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are its missionaries.  Currently, there are around 80,000 men and women serving missions all over the world.  Young missionaries (men are allowed to serve at 18, women at 19) are generally assigned to proselyte, meaning they spend their time (2 years for boys, 18 months for girls) teaching people about Jesus Christ and His plan for all of us.  Older, married couples can also serve, although their mission assignments are more varied.  Some are called to staff Church historical sites, work with genealogical records/research, do clerical jobs for mission offices, teach religion classes to college students, etc..

Although many missionaries are sent to exotic locales, a mission is not a vacation—it's a full-time responsibility that is not just voluntary, but also paid for by the missionary and his/her family.  During their missions, junior missionaries are asked not to watch television, listen to popular music, play on the Internet or contact friends/family except via letters, emails and bi-annual phone calls (on Christmas and Mother's Day).  Despite the many sacrifices they are asked to make, most missionaries find these years of dedicated service to the Lord to be among the most fulfilling of their lives.

Want a peek at what missionaries do all day?  This is a great video from Mormon Newsroom about missionaries serving in in the U.K.:




Mormon missionaries are known for their enthusiasm and tenacity.  They believe so strongly in the message they're giving that they want to share it with everyone.  In reality, they probably would not have "given up" on Sebastien, especially since the things they teach—faith in God, helping other people, eternal families, etc.—are, in fact, the very things that can combat depression and loneliness.

If you want to know more about missionaries and what they do, please visit:  http://mormon.org/missionaries

Cartwheel Compelling, But Not Satisfying

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Andrew and Maureen Hayes have already been through the worst tragedy parents can face.  The loss of their baby daughter traumatized them so thoroughly that nothing has ever been quite the same.  They raised two more girls—with extreme fear and caution—then divorced, and now live separate lives.  Even now that their daughters are grown, the pall of Janie's death remains, coloring the family's every interaction.  

When the estranged couple receives the shocking news that their 21-year-old has been arrested in Buenos Aires on charges of murder, they brace themselves for another heart-wrenching maelstrom.  They know their daughter is innocent.  Lily may be thoughtless and naive, but she's never been violent.  And yet, her roommate, another American college student, has been viciously stabbed to death.  All the evidence points to one suspect:  Lily.  As incriminating emails, damning photos and illuminating DNA results come to light, the case becomes more unsettling still.  Everyone, from the Hayes' to their lawyers to the corner store gossips want to know:  What really happened on the night Katy Kellers was murdered?  Did Lily kill her roommate?  And, if she didn't, who did?  The strange boy in the crumbling mansion next door?  A leering bartender?  Katy's host father?  Through it all, the Hayes' must answer the most disconcerting question of all:  How well do they really know their own child?  

Like the strange story of Amanda Knox—the American student arrested in Italy in 2009 for the fatal stabbing of her roommate—Cartwheel by Jennifer DuBois tells a tale that's both lurid and mesmerizing.  It's less a murder mystery, though, than an examination of an already fractured family facing yet another insurmountable trial.  Watching the Hayes' stumble their way through the situation begs the question:  How would I react in a similar situation?  A disquieting thought, to be sure.  With this rumination lingering in the background, Cartwheel is a gripping, character-driven novel that's as intriguing as it is frightening.  It's also pretty dang depressing.  Overall, I found it compelling, but not all that satisfying.      

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of Defending Jacob by William Landay)

Grade:

     
If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for strong language, violence, sexual content and depictions of illegal drug use/underage drinking

To the FTC, with love:  I received an ARC of Cartwheel from the generous folks at Random House via those at TLC Book Tours.  Thank you!

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The Gold in These Hills by Joanne Bischof

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Glass Houses by Louise Penny



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