Ex-Mormon McIlvain delivers a subtly told debut novel with a tight cast of rounded characters centered on two young Mormons on their missionary work in the fictional Brazilian city of Carinha. The American Elder McCleod, and his local mission companion Elder Passos, clash culturally and philosophically in a conflict that threatens their working relationship. Central to the duo's frustrations are the church politics that prevent either from successfully applying for a transfer, and a fundamental disagreement about how to best proceed with their only realistic prospect, a local woman named Josefina whose conversion is severely hampered by a reticent husband. The novel keeps character front and center, presenting two protagonists whose worldviews are fully justified by their histories, and yet by their differences seem destined to tangle. Though brief, the novel contains a wealth of fascinating particulars; both the exotic Brazilian location (in the midst of a major soccer tournament), and the finer logistical points of Mormon missionary procedure are described in confident detail that can only be the result of the author's own experience. This refreshingly zoomed-in story is a great, short read for anybody who wants a different perspective on that church, or who simply wants a character-driven novel done right. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/25/2013 Release date: 03/01/2013 Genre: Fiction
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