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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Mormon Mentions: Lisa Beazley

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.


In Keep Me Posted by Lisa Beazley, 34-year-old Cassie Sunday is composing a letter to her sister.  An exhausted stay-at-home mom, she writes:

"I just remembered something.  When the boys were about four months old and I had been back at work for a month, I used to watch TV during their two a.m. feed.  I got into that show on Showtime with Chloë Sevigny about the Mormon polygamists, and I remember thinking, these people are genius!  A few extra wives really come in handy with a house full of kids.  It's just good sense.  We could have used an extra wife right about then (still could, actually).  I would have gladly let her sleep with Leo.  God knows I wasn't.  I fantasized about it for weeks—not the sex part, but the wife part, the extra set of hands to take care of the babies, cook, clean, all that" (36).  

--  All I can say is ha ha.  And members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints haven't practiced polygamy in more than 125 years.  The practice is continued by some fundamentalist sects, but these groups are not associated with the mainstream LDS Church.  If you want to read more about plural marriage and the history of the Church, click here.   

Wickedly Funny Epistolary Novel Not As Fluffy As It Seems

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After swooning over letters their grandparents exchanged during WWII, Cassie Sunday and her sister decide to launch their own written correspondence campaign.  A stay-at-home mom obsessed with how she looks on Facebook, 34-year-old Cassie vows to be real in her letters to her older sister—no more hiding behind staged selfies and clever status updates.  If she wants to be as close to Sid as she once was, she's going to have to open up like she hasn't since.  

Spilling her guts turns out to be a cathartic exercise for the frazzled New Yorker, who hasn't quite adjusted to full-time mommyhood.  As Cassie vents about everything from toddler tantrums to her lackluster marriage to her annoying in-laws, she receives the kind of authentic support and reassurance she never gets from her Facebook friendships.  Sid, a soft-hearted midwife who's leading a luxurious ex-pat life in Singapore, is likewise invigorated by the correspondence.  Despite the physical distance between them, the sisters are growing closer than ever.

Then, the unthinkable happens.  Suddenly, all of the sisters' letters are on the Internet, out in the open for everyone to see.  Cassie has poured her heart out to Sid, sharing everything from petty gossip to a confession that will tear her husband apart.  Sid's been equally as forthcoming.  With their dirty laundry flapping in the Web's wind, the sisters stand to lose everything they hold dear—their marriages, their friends, their families, and, most distressingly, each other.

Keep Me Posted, a debut novel by Lisa Beazley, is an epistolary tale about the risks and rewards of being authentically oneself.  It's a cautionary story that will strike a chord with perpetually plugged-in women everywhere.  Wickedly funny, Keep Me Posted entertains while teaching some important lessons about honesty, vulnerability, and focusing on what's most important.  Although it leaves a few threads hanging, the story wraps up a little too neatly.  I would have liked the sisters to struggle a little more so their finale feels more hard-won.  Still, this a satisfying novel that's not as fluffy as it first appears.  While it didn't blow my socks off or anything, I found Keep Me Posted enjoyable.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other books/movies about diaries being revealed to the public, although no specific titles are coming to mind ... Help?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for strong language, sexual content, and references to illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Keep Me Posted from the generous folks at New American Library (an imprint of Penguin Random House).  Thank you!
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