Thursday, April 24, 2008

Season of Sacrifice by Tristi Pinkston--book review

Season of Sacrifice by Tristi Pinkston is a powerful story of faith rising up against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Ben Perkins wants more out of life than working in the coal mines of Wales, so when The Church begins organizing shiploads of Saints to go across to New York and then onto Utah, he decides to leave his home and journey to America. He leaves behind his sweetheart, young Mary Ann Williams, but he promises to send enough money for her passage as soon as he can.

After receiving Ben's wages, Mary Ann travels with the rest of Ben's family to America. Mary Ann and Ben are married in October 1869. The rest of Mary Ann's family, including her younger sister, Sarah, join them in Utah in 1878.

When the Perkins family is asked to join the San Juan mission to create a trail through Southern Utah, Sarah accompanies them to help care for the children.

The planned six-week journey, turns into six months of hard labor as the Saints blast through cliffs, build roads, and create dugways to make a trail to San Juan. They survive dangerous conditions, believing they cannot turn back because it is what the Lord has called them to do.

Relief comes at last when they finally settle in San Juan. But relief for Ben, Mary Ann, and Sarah is short-lived. Ben announces that he has been called to enter into a plural marriage and to take Sarah as his second wife. Can these Saints follow the Lord's commandments? Can they push aside their own feelings and practice obedience? Will their lives ever be good again?

I approached this novel with a a tiny bit of anxiety. I had only read one other book that had Mormon characters in it and they weren't the good guys. In addition, I didn't know how much polygamy was going to play a role in this novel or how it would be portrayed. The author did an amazing job with this story and I can honestly say that my anxiety was unnecessary.

Season of Sacrifice tells the story of Tristi Pinkston's great-great grandfather Ben Perkins and his family. Their devotion to their faith is inspiring. The hardships they faced--astounding. The decisions they had to make are unthinkable in this day and age. They were true pioneers in every sense of the word.

Pinkston broke the book up into four parts--each flowing nicely into the other. From the time Ben appears as a coal miner through to the birth of the first child born to Sarah and Ben Perkins, you follow him and his family through every emotion, every decision, every hardship. You journey with them in the cramped quarters onboard the ship to America. You ride the dusty trail with them. You're there as they blast through the cliff that will become known as "Hole in the Rock". You feel their relief when they finally arrive at San Juan. And mostly, you feel for both Sarah and her sister, Mary Ann, as they struggle to obey the Lord's commandments.

Pinkston provides a Cast of Characters at the beginning of the novel, which allows the reader to reference back if necessary...though I was so caught up in this fascinating story, I never needed to refer to it. In addition to the Epilogue, Pinkston provides a list of Chapter Notes, which tells the reader what is historically accurate and what is portrayed in such a way as to add to the plot of the story. She also provides a touching Afterword about polygamy, which seeks to help readers understand the origins of plural marriage and it's place in the Mormon Church, and indicates her own difficulties in writing about Sarah's marriage to Ben. Also included are some wonderful family photos to provide faces to some of the characters the reader meets along the way.

Season of Sacrifice is a gripping page-turner that will find you clinging to the very last word!

Title: Season of Sacrifice
Author: Tristi Pinkston
Publisher: Golden Wings Enterprises
ISBN: 978-0-9794340-1-3
U.S. Price: $16.95


J Scott Savage said...

Great review, Cheryl. Tristi recently gave me a copy at a conference we both spoke at, and I enjoyed it so much I had both my parents read it. They loved it as well. I thought it was a very balanced, realistic picture of a historical event and people. Sometimes novels based on true stories can drag. But I thouht SOS worked very well.

Anne Bradshaw said...

What a great review.

Having also read this book, I agree it is one that can help many more people understand where, why, and how polygamy fitted into Mormon history.

Along with Janet Kay Jensen's superb new book, "Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys," "Season of Sacrifice" teaches a muddled world the truth about polygamy, which is no longer part of Mormon culture.

Heather B. Moore said...

Great book. I read this a few weeks ago and was caught up in an amazing true story. I highly recommend it to historical fiction lovers!