cover image To the Mountain: One Mormon Woman’s Search for Spirit

To the Mountain: One Mormon Woman’s Search for Spirit

Phyllis Barber. Quest Books, $18.95 trade paper (312p) ISBN 978-0-8356-0924-1

Barber (How I Got Cultured), a lyrical writer who taught for many years in the Vermont College of Fine Arts M.F.A. program, followed the rules of her Latter-day Saint childhood: attended Sunday School, matriculated at Brigham Young, married a nice boy there, and raised four sons with him. But the marriage ends when the kids are grown, largely because of differing opinions about religion. Thus Barber, in middle age, is launched on a quest to discover what it means “to be spiritual, to be connected.” She visits a mosque, hangs out with a Peruvian shaman, and investigates Buddhism, but after a decade away from the LDS church, she discovers that she is held to Mormonism by memory, by faith, by childhood formation, and concludes that she can live with Mormonism’s “flaws” and “prejudices.” Along the way she has a disastrous love affair, remarries, divorces again, and then reconciles with her second husband, a Jewish man who tells her she is happier when attending Mormon services. Throughout, the prose is lovely; Barber speaks of falling off the “precipice of knowing” and of her faith changing shape like a moon. Spiritual pilgrims of many stripes will find this book good company. (July)