- File Size: 881 KB
- Print Length: 270 pages
- Publisher: Pronoun (August 29, 2017)
- Publication Date: August 29, 2017
- Sold by: Macmillan
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0757J7MW5
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,751 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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A Danger to God Himself Kindle Edition
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The setting of Mormonism (really a stand-in for religion more broadly) is one I have some familiarity with… enough to know that Draper has done his homework on it well. In addition, my deep immersion in Evangelical Christianity in my childhood and half my adult life makes much of the religious environment in the novel very familiar. The overlap with Mormon thinking and style is significant, despite most Evangelicals strong opposition to Mormonism overall.
Readers without such a heavy dose of exposure, plus academic study in my case, may not care about this aspect of the story. No matter. It should be a great read for them just as a story. Well crafted, with plenty of humor, and a fair dose of the side of life that drives so much else but which most religious people avoid discussing. (Like sex and deep emotion.) I say read it and be prepared to have something stirred from deep within you. I can’t predict just what that “something” may be.
The main characters are great. Kenny, a young adult (which we all know is still just a kid) who does what's expected of him, even if maybe he'd rather not. He's a type we've probably all seen, even if the situation is different. His missionary companion, Jared, is a strange duck, keeping the reader off balance, not sure what to make of him. In the beginning, he provides comic relief, but he also drives much of the story.
The secondary characters are all well formed as well, each helping move the story forward. I especially liked Jared's dad and sister who were integral to the story and to gaining a complete understanding of Jared. Some of the characters are caricatures, not in the sense that they aren't well formed or are flat. More in that they may seem just a touch over the top, which is fitting for a story that is satirical.
The story is satirical in a couple ways. One is that it satirizes religion, especially those who take what many consider to be myths containing lessons to help in living a good life and interpret them too literally. But on another level, Jared and everything that happens to him is a satire of Joseph Smith and the founding of the Mormon church.
Which is a segue into the religious part. Those not familiar with Mormonism might wonder how much of the story is realistic. The answer is that while satirical, nothing here is out of the realm of possibility. In fact, Mormonism has a long history of spawning splinter groups that go way beyond the mainstream church. Even within the mainstream, the culture rewards followers and extremism while discouraging critical thinking or questioning of any kind.
That last part is a clue of who this book isn't for. It's doubtful a devout Mormon has read this far unless it is one of my still-faithful sisters, wondering how far I've gone this time. This isn't the book for them. However, anyone without a problem with taking a critical look at religion, regardless of their personal beliefs, will find much to like. I'll end this with a quote from the book. If you read this and give a knowing nod, it is especially for you.
"Mormonism isn’t just a religion. It’s a way of being. Like alcoholism, I guess. Alcoholics say they never stop being alcoholics, don’t they? They’re always recovering alcoholics. Same thing with Mormonism. It’s a culture. If you’re born a Mormon, you’re always a Mormon—more so if you were actually raised in the church."
**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **
Most recent customer reviews
A quirky look at religion and mental illness. The characters are well.Read more
I did not like it at all.