Friday, August 28, 2009
I am so excited to share my review of my friend, Janet K. Jensen's novel, Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys. Janet has offered to give away a free copy to one of my blog readers. All you have to do is leave a comment with your contact info. I will close out the contest Friday, September 4th.
When Andy McBride met Louisa Martin, he knew he had found the girl for him. There was only one problem: polygamy -- a lifestyle that Louisa could not escape and Andy would not embrace.
Janet Jensen writes about a secretive society in a way that is both fair and thought-provoking. I loved the insights into a polygamous community and the fact that the author showed the bad and the good of this society - the heartbreaking abuse, yet the tight-knit group is full of love and goodness as well. Louisa's own father is a great man and a polygamist.
The hero and heroine, Andy and Louisa, are people I would want as friends. I hoped and cheered through their courtship. When their babies were kidnapped I couldn't stop reading until they were safe.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone, in fact I bought a copy for my mom!
Cami: Tell us about your current release and where you got the inspiration for it.
Janet: Don’t You Marry the Mormon Boys is my latest release. I have always been aware of polygamy, as there are a number of groups who practice it in Utah. I discovered, after the fact, that I went to high school with the son of a man who was a leader of a polygamous group. Occasionally I would read newspaper stories about him or his family and was fascinated to read about their life. They have since left the clan and he lives with his first wife and their children. He encouraged his wife to get an education at the University of Utah and she was valedictorian of her class. So I began thinking what it must have been like for her to be exposed to so many new ideas and people after living such a sheltered life.
That developed the premise of Don’t You Marry the Mormon Boys: what happens when a young woman raised in polygamy has the opportunity to attend college? What if she falls for a young LDS man? Would they be able to deal with their conflicting beliefs? What would they have to sacrifice to be together?
Cami: When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Janet: I’ve always loved to write. It was usually channeled into school projects, though. In my profession (speech-language pathology) I did a significant amount of writing, but it was always technical and clinical. It had to be precise and accurate. Then, as a faculty member at Utah State University’s Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education, I supervised and trained students in their clinical work. I taught them to write diagnostic and progress reports, all of which had to be clear and concise.
However, I began to miss writing creatively! There was a definite need that wasn’t being met for me. I began to attend the local chapter of the League of Utah Writers and through several kind and patient mentors, I gradually developed and polished my creative writing skills, which were quite different from the technical writing I had been doing for years.
Cami: How did you think of writing a novel about a polygamous society? How intensive was the research for your novel?
Janet: I read extensively about polygamy. Jesse Embrey of Brigham Young University wrote a fascinating book in which she interviewed people who had been raised in “traditional” polygamy and what life was like for their families. The Los Angeles Times, The Deseret Morning News and the Salt Lake Tribune each did an in-depth series about polygamy in Utah. Dorothy Allred Solomon wrote two fascinating memoirs about growing up in polygamy. I read other books written by people who had left or escaped the lifestyle. There have been numerous TV documentaries aired on the subject.
I also interviewed two people who had been involved in polygamy and then left. In both cases, they took significant risks to do so, as it is a secretive lifestyle and leaders tend to have tight control over their followers.
Then Warren Jeffs became one of the FBI’s Most Wanted. That put polygamy in the international news almost daily. He was the leader of the FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints) polygamous sect and was charged with numerous crimes by former followers. The most serious involved performing marriages of underage girls, which the law interpreted as statutory rape. When he was captured and tried in court, there were headlines in Utah papers every day. So the whole subject was actually hard to ignore!
I had started to write my book in about 2000, long before Warren Jeffs became a household word, and before Mitt Romney ran for President of the United States, but all of a sudden polygamy was news. Then, shortly after my book came out, there was a raid on the YFZ (Yearning for Zion) ranch in Texas, where many of Warren Jeffs’ followers had moved. Many children were taken from their parents and it took about a year for the court to finally return most of them to their families. It’s a very complicated subject but also fascinating.
Progress on my novel was interrupted by The Book Lover’s Cookbook, which I co-authored. It took extensive research and also involved developing original recipes, so my novel was put aside for about three years. The Book Lover’s Cookbook was released in 2003. After its release I began to work on my novel again.
Cami: What is your next project?
Janet: I’m writing Gabriel’s Daughters, the sequel to Don’t You Marry the Mormon Boys. I’m also writing a novel which explores the effects of illiteracy in our society, and have written the text of a Christmas picture book, which I’m peddling to agents and publishers as we speak.
Cami: Where can we find Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys and more information about your writing?
Janet: Amazon.com, Deseret Book, Seagull Book, cedarfort.com, and a lot of other online bookstores.
http://janetkayjensen2.blogspot.com contains many reviews and interviews about the book. My other blog http://janetkayjensen.blogspot.com covers various subjects.
My webpage is www.janetkayjensen.com, where you can read the first chapter of my book.
Thanks all for stopping by. Please remember to leave a comment so you can win your own copy of Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys. I promise you'll enjoy it!
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