- Paperback: 217 pages
- Publisher: PublishAmerica; 2002 edition (May 4, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1588513521
- ISBN-13: 978-1588513526
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,117,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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This Is the Place 2002nd Edition
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From Library Journal
Skylar Eccles is growing up in Utah as the child of a mixed marriage between a Mormon father and a Protestant mother. As a "half-breed," she faces constant, subtle pressure from her Mormon relatives to convert and witnesses her Protestant relatives' disdain for the Mormons. Sky's struggle with her belief in God and her place in life is offset by her grandmother Harriet's memories of converting to Mormonism and making a place for herself in her new community. Howard-Johnson strengthens her novel with behind-the-scenes details of Mormon life and history in a book suitable for all collections, particularly those where sf author Orson Scott Card's religious books are popular.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Publisher
"This is the Place," won Sime-Gen's Reviewers' Choice Award in the spring of 2001 and was named Top Ten Novels in the Preditor and Editors Readers' Poll that same year. AmErica House honored it for exceptional sales and a chapter from the book was a finalist in the prestigious Masters' Literary Award. Another was selected for inclusion in The Copperfield Review and one was a finalist in The New Millennium Review's annual contest. It was also an NUW Book Club selection and the author received their award of excellence for service.
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A Japanese fan, lying on a table, is a simple unassuming object. However, in the hands of a dancer it pivots and twirls, opening gradually or with a flick of a wrist to reveal itself as a work of art, a kaleidoscope of color and movement. As the dance develops the fan becomes more than an object in the hands of an artist. It is a gateway into a world both frightening in its strangeness and comforting in its familiarity.
This Is The Place, Carolyn Howard-Johnson's excellent first novel, unfurls as the fan does developing from a simple coming of age story, filled with the music of everyday life, into a powerful novel about the search for individuality and the struggle against prejudice.
Skylar Eccles is the hero. The daughter of a Mormon father and a Protestant mother, she must struggle against the demands and prejudices of both sides of her family that mandate that she conforms to their religious views. She must also struggle against the constrains placed on members of her sex in 1950's Utha, that sent the message that "only in marriage would a woman be a complete entity." Even the love of a good man and the love of her family threatened to destroy her selfhood through the obstacles placed in her path in their attempts to mold and shape her into good wife, obedient daughter, and a child of the faith. "...Sky looked at her own life and saw the awful power of love hovering ready to shape-maybe destroy -her own reality."
The pain of intolerance and the fight against bigotry is reflected in the lives of Skylar's great-grandmother Crystal and grandmother Harriet, who both gave up their more comfortable religions to embrace the harsher rules of Mormonism, in order to be with the men they loved. It is also mirrored in the life of Skylar's mother Stella, who refuses to relinquish her own faith.
Beneath all this emerges another story. It is the story of Utah, the fifth woman in this tale. Utah is the mother, loving, comforting, and judgmental. Enfolding these women in her arms, she shapes and forms them in her own image, strong and glorious in her harsh, uncompromising beauty that demands respect and honor from her sons and daughters. Howard -Johnson speaks in reverence of the land whether it's the family's private house and land imprinted in Sky's soul "both sweet and scary like a sugar apple with a dark spot in its core" or Utah itself, who "chained her with its beauty and with the calls of her ancestors because her feet were grounded in its clay."
Howard-Johnson's language is vivid and vibrant, pulsating with the music and beauty of the land she describes, burnt sienna, pumpkin and amber. Her words, like the music that pours from grandma Harriet's piano, ties our souls to "the rhythm of life in Utah's Mormon community." But, it is Howard-Johnson's power as a story teller that holds the readers enthralled bringing to life characters that spoke directly to us of their hopes and joys. She not only held my interest until the end, but she made me fall in love with Utah a land whose harsh and vivid beauty effects the lives not only of the people who live there but also impacts those who merely visit it at one moment in time in the pages of a book. I highly recommend this novel.
However, the truth is determined by our own personal insights as to what is correct. It almost always reflects the life long training and the belief system of your family, community and those who educated you. Very few ever really explore religions outside their own youthful indoctrinations into whatever cultural and religious heritage we were born into. So, when author Carolyn Howard-Johnson writes a book based on her alienation from the surrounding culture of Mormonism in Utah she is bound to open herself up as a target.
Carolyn's book title is taken from a quote of the LSD leader Brigham Young when he looked out over Salt Lake City and proclaimed "This is the Place". Contrary to some reviews I had read about her book, I found that there was no attempt to attack any organization. She deals with people in her book and it is the actions and views of her characters that become the focus of the issues in her story. However, the culture she writes about is a collective thought and action process of a group. She writes about her lead character having to deal with life as a non-Mormon in a state where this is the primary social driving force. The premise seems to be that no matter what you do or achieve as a non-member of this cultural you will always remain feeling like you are on the outside or at least separated in some social way.
Carolyn uses her lead character to bring out the past as she explores her family genealogy. We discover how a group of early founders escaped from the bigotry and persecutions of other places. They came to Utah to build a place where they would not endure such things again. In her book, it seems that the former persecuted become intolerant of outsiders over time. Maybe not in brutal ways like blacks had in the south but at least socially there was a division between the non-believers and those of the LDS church.
When reading her book one gets the feeling that her story seems almost personal and autobiographical. It feels like we are following along in a memoir of someone exploring their family and themselves looking for their roots and meaning. It is well written and the prose is top notch stuff. It flows with energy as it almost dances through the pages. Her characters are all alive and have depth and animation. This was her first novel but it feels like classic piece of literature like many other great first novels of our time.
This book will continue to be controversial but hopefully in a healing way. I get the feeling that the author is trying to throw a mirror out there for people to look into for discovering there own roots. I think the author obviously has great writing skills and talents. I hope people read this story with both an open mind and heart so that they can fully enjoy the actual story she has created.
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Music is important in this novel as a theme.Read more