Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mormon Mention: Kali Wallace

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.

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In Shallow Graves, a debut novel by Kali Wallace, the main character—recently deceased Breezy Lim—is talking to a friend.  The topic under discussion is Mr. Willow, the leader of a cult who claims he can "fix" undead people like Breezy.  This exchange between Rain and Breezy occurs at the 30% mark in the e-ARC of Shallow Graves:  

"Is he as scary as they say?  I'm picturing the mutant offspring of Charles Manson and Ted Bundy."

"He looks like a middle-aged Mormon missionary," I said, and Rain laughed.  "I didn't realize he was famous."

- You'd be surprised at how many times book/movie characters are described as looking like Mormon missionaries.  Why?  Because that's probably the easiest, most visual way of conjuring an image of someone who has a clean-cut appearance.  The connotation of the phrase goes beyond that, though, indicating that the person is also honest, honorable, even innocent.  All of which Mormon missionaries should be.  Not only do they abide by strict dress and grooming standards (read more here), but they also adhere to an exacting code of personal worthiness.  If elders and sisters are doing their best to live by these standards, then they are, in fact, clean, virtuous, and worthy of serving as the Lord's ambassadors.    

(Book image from Barnes & Noble; missionary image from nearingkolob.com)

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