From Publishers Weekly
Raised a Mormon, Richman had heard stories of her seven great-great-grandmothers walking from Nauvoo, Ill., to the promised land of Salt Lake City in the mid-19th century. Long after leaving the religion and going through a middle-age pensive period, Richman, whose writing has appeared in the Progressive
, decided to make the same journey, albeit alone and on a motorcycle. The result is a mixture of roadtrip musings, quirky adventure tales and spiritual reflections, with a healthy dose of unresolved family issues. It's an unusual blend, and those who aren't curious about traveling by motorcycle may find themselves skimming through the parts about driving in the rain or why more women should ride Harleys. But Richman's other adventures—both physical and spiritual—prove universally compelling. Especially notable are her thoughts on religion, which have a refreshing air of detachment. As Richman's trip progresses, she goes deeper into self-reflection, finally admitting that an "hour's ride offers more introspection than a year's worth of expensive therapy." She gradually unravels her emotions about her mother, a devout Mormon disappointed in Richman's lack of faith, reaching a resolution by the time Salt Lake City emerges on the horizon. Map.
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“Jana Richman understands that we can never escape our connections to our ancestors, and neither would we want to. In this busy and disconnected world, Richman has taken the time both to make peace with and embrace her heritage; her story serves as an inspiration to us all.” —Dawn Prince-Hughes, author of Songs of the Gorilla Nation
“An extraordinary story of a woman who travels cross-country on a bike—the rip-roaring, motorized, macho kind—in search of what it means to have and keep faith. Richman leavens the history of Mormonism—America’s fascinating, authentically homegrown religion—with her investigation into her roots and her adventures riding the Mormon trail. Like all great memoirs, Riding in the Shadows of Saints
engages the heart while delighting the mind.” —Fenton Johnson, author of Keeping Faith
“ In this profoundly appealing memoir, Jana Richman travels a road that connects her to family, history, and the haunting landscapes and haunted people of the West. What she finds along the way makes for a marvelous journey—and a most memorable book.” —Gregory McNamee, author of Gila
and Blue Mountains Far Away
“Faith for Jana Richman, who can trace her Mormon roots back to the founding of the Church, is not a dogma but a process of engagement with place, history, and mystery. She writes with disarming honesty, and the wonderful surprise of the book is to witness the strength and integrity of five generations of women who managed to empower themselves within the belly of religious patriarchy. This book makes a significant contribution to feminizing the history of the American West.” —Alison Hawthorne Deming, author of Writing the Sacred into the Real
“A poignant mother/daughter love affair, a heart-wrenching father/daughter schism, a classic coming-of-age story, and a timeless quest for spiritual meaning. That its setting is the splendor of the American West only adds to the book’s richness.” —Sally Denton, author of Faith and Betrayal