BOUND FOR CANAAN: Standing on the Promises, Book 2

Margaret Blair Young, Author . Deseret/Bookcraft $19.95 (414p) ISBN 978-1-57008-791-2

Just in time for Black History Month comes this second novel in a trilogy of historical fiction about black Mormon pioneers. The first book followed a few of the black converts who knew Joseph Smith personally, including Elijah Abel, who received the priesthood with Smith's knowledge and approval, and Jane Manning James, who lived as a family member in the Smith home. The second novel picks up their story for the Mormon trek west to the Salt Lake Valley under Brigham Young's leadership, and also chronicles the Civil War and the growing emigrations to California. The novel succeeds not only in opening a door on the early black Mormon experience; it also places that experience within the larger context of national race relations. Readers will get refresher courses on Dred Scott, Civil War politics, slave auctions, lynch mobs, blackface minstrelsy and more. One of the Mormon authors (Gray) is African-American, and his own ancestors figure in the novels. The story seems driven more by the historical record than by the need for a smooth plot, as evidenced by the detailed historical notes at the end of every chapter. Although these may distract readers seeking easy escapist fiction, they lend the novel weight and credibility. Given how little is known of early black converts to Mormonism and of their experiences living in Utah, this trilogy is a treasure. It is a badly needed history lesson coated with a layer of imagination—a combination that has proved enormously popular in the works of Gerald Lund. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 01/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
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