Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Review: Just Shy of Paradise by Carole Thayne Warburton

Two stories are skillfully woven together in Just Shy of Paradise by Carole Thayne Warburton. First, there is a contemporary obstacle-filled romance. When Sky Brown meets Lily Anderson and they learn of connections their ancestors had in Cache Valley, Utah, he “even wonders if his ancestors had orchestrated events so he would meet her.” Soon after their first encounter on the Blacksmith Fork River in Cache Valley, however, ownership of a one-of-a-kind fly fishing rod comes into question, and becomes a symbol that will challenge their developing trust and cause them to question each other and their own belief systems.

Their story is played out in the very northern Utah valley where Sky’s mostly peaceful Shoshone ancestors once farmed, hunted, and fished, until driven away by events such as the shameful Bear River Massacre, when  hundreds of the natives were exterminated by the U.S. Army. While Sky tries to rid his heart of bitterness over this and other wrongs done to his people, he reflects: “It seems to me that our ancestors aren’t exactly in another place---that they are right here with us - - - and that what happened to them happens to us.” The words of Chief Sagwitch echo in his heart, though, and challenge the hatred he feels: “I have ever been an advocate for peace. I abhor war today. I want peace. I want peace today. I want to be at peace with all men . . .”

In a parallel experience, Lily finds and reads a journal penned by Emma, a young Scandinavian ancestor who struggles with the settlers’ treatment of the Shoshone. When she meets a tall strapping young Shoshone, her account reads: “He held the sack of potatoes and said thank you slowly. And then he took off his bear’s teeth necklace and gave it to me. Never have I had such a gift. I am embarrassed even now to write about him and how it felt to see him again. He left and joined the other Indians who waited for him. Even if I never see Topi again, at least I know his name and know he lived through the battle. I am grateful to God for letting me bask in His goodness, for seeing to the desires of my heart. 

Only when histories are revealed, old wrongs righted, justice granted, and forgiveness freely given can Sky and Lily learn to trust each other, as each must face their own fears and demons before they can truly be free to love.

Just Shy of Paradise is a well-balanced, fascinating read with powerful historical and cultural references that raises challenging implications for the present. It is permeated with a haunting sense of place and ancestry, causing the reader to ponder the role of personal heritage in the development of the people and nations we are today. 

                                                     ---reviewed by Janet Kay Jensen

Launch  Party: Monday March 28
Hyrum, Utah library

50 W. Main, Hyrum  245-6411

Book signing 6-8 p.m. At 7:00 Carole will speak about her books and there will be a drawing for prizes - books and pottery! 

Just Shy of Paradise

by Carole Thayne Warburton
  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Brigham Distributing (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935217917
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935217916

find it at and Deseret Book


arianne said...

Great review. I'm glad I found your blog. I hope you're doing well.

Christopher said...

I like reading great reviews like this one in order to select the books I'll read.
I'll buy this in so I can take it to my apartments in Buenos Aires

Tristi Pinkston said...

It sounds like a great read, Janet!

K.Griffiths said...

This book sounds great. Thanks for the review.

Janet said...

Enjoyed your review and also your blog. I am amazed at all the great blogs there are to read and all the amazing LDS authors. Wow!!! Thanks.