Deseret Book . Paperback.
Suggested retail price: $7.95 (US)
This is my first book review, so please all .& .& . bare with me.
I have read the book, The Bet, by Chirley Arnold. It is a novel of"values for young women." While it might be directed to that specificaudience, I, at almost 40 years old, got a lot out of it and believe it isa joy to read at any age.
Okay .& .& . here goes my review. .& .& .
The story is seen through the eyes of Julie, a 17 year old woman who'sfamily is inactive in the Church and lives in New York City. She has noreligious upbringing. Her family moves quickly to Provo, Utah, after hermother is diagnosed with cancer and wishes to return to her roots and herhome for treatment.
We see the initial resentment, the initial confusion and then her decisionto give up college in New York to be by her mother's side. She ishowever, not happy totally in her decision.
Upon arriving in Utah, Julie is now faced with all aspects of the Churchthat she never knew living in New York. Her family attends Churchmeetings, she attends Youth parties and her few friends in Provo are ofcourse LDS.
All the while, she has made a "bet" with her boyfriend in New York, whomshe has left behind, that the Church will not get her and she will not beconverted. He claims she will, she holds fast not. Obviously in theend, she does join the Church.
The book handles her life and her typical teenage problems with delicacyand gentleness. We see her struggle to cling to her New York lifestyle andyet still live in Utah. We feel her pain and confusion through theauthor's descriptions of her emotions. Eventually her cynical perceptionsof Utah, and it's "hick-like" ways, slowly losen up as she discovers thather life there is just beginning.
In whole, this is an excellent concept to me, of comparing the non Mormonupbringing she had for 17 years, to the gospel's way of life. As aconvert myself, especially one who grew up and still does reside in NewYork, I found much parallel to my own life. And I felt her pains, heremotions and her confussions all the way. I think the author handledthis transition very well. Julie fights the Church's ways, questions thepower of prayer and doesn't understand others' devotion to this newlifestyle. I am sure that all teenagers, even many adults, myselfincluded, have felt questions, had doubts, even worries. In this area, Ifound the story line to be a helpful reminder of what is truly important,of where our priorities should lie, and of Heavenly Father's and Christ'slove for us all.
However, I had a few problems with the parallels of New York versus Utah. It seemed that the author was trying to say that a non Mormom life in NewYork couldn't compare to a Mormon life in Utah. While I agree that livingthe gospel and attending Church is a joy and by far a better way to live, Idon't believe that this lifestyle is indigineous to Utah only. Perhaps theLDS population is greater in Utah, obviously so. Perhaps that is where itall began. However, I found the parallel to New York somewhat insulting. There are Mormons in New York. And perhaps this is an even harder placeto live the gospel, but on the other hand, shows perhaps even more faith,more devotion. Isn't it harder to stick to something, commit to somethingwhen all those around you aren't? In Utah, it was easy enough for Julieto turn to the Church. Her family, her friends and all those around herwere members. The author seemed to give the impression that her conversionwould not have occurred had she remained in New York. As a convert, whoindeed lives in New York, this part of the book was slightly insulting.
However, the main premise that living the gospel and being a member of theChurch will in fact enhance our lives, give us hope, promise and guidance,is indeed a well spoken thought and one that I relished in each word.
At the end, when Julie is baptized and plans for her family's sealing inthe Temple are finalized, I cried. I had memories of my own baptism. Her final words are to a friend who has been called to serve his mission inNew York City and she gives him the name and address of her boyfriendthere, as she bets now that he too, will convert.
I am not sure how much further to go with this review, but end by sayingthat if anyone has any comments, questions, or thoughts, to please writeand I will answer them as best as I can.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Jacki Friedmann email: JackiKF@worldnet.att.net homepage: http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/8163 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
© 1997 Jacki Friedmann