"Jensen has a light touch and takes a more academic and philosophic approach than a dogmatic or moral one to these issues."
When a young, handsome teacher pays particular attention to sixteen-year-old Zina Martin, she believes she has found true love. Imagine her horror when she discovers her father has arranged a marriage for her to his friend, a middle aged man who already has four wives. When her lover accepts a job on the other side of the country and leaves without her before she can share the news she is pregnant, her world falls apart. The man she thought she loved never really loved her, but only used her. She won’t marry the man her father has chosen for her, a man she doesn’t love.
Staying in the small polygamous town she’s lived in all of her life isn’t an option. She runs away and is fortunate to be picked up by a long haul trucker and his wife on their way through Utah to Chicago. As she struggles to understand who she is and determine her own values she learns the “gentile world” is nothing like she has been taught by her family and leaders of the small religious community that had been her whole world prior to her leaving. Good and evil can exist anywhere. She misses her family and longs to reconnect with them beyond the postcard she has post marked from various cities that simply says she’s fine.
When an Internet search leads her to the first information she has had of her family in years, she faces her need to reconnect.
Trust and security issues play a major role in this novel. As do several modern hot button issues including race, homosexuality, polygamy, sexual predators, and homeopathic medicine. Jensen has a light touch and takes a more academic and philosophic approach than a dogmatic or moral one to these issues. With strong characterization, the author gives a picture of many pieces of America from a rural western community locked in the past with its joys, sorrows, and abuses, then a low to middle class, big city, black neighborhood, a sophisticated pent house and artistic life style offered in Minneapolis, a backwoods southern community straddling the line between the old and the new, to bits and pieces of Salt Lake City with its recognition of its changing demographics.
Janet Kay Jensen is a long-time educator who now lives in Logan, Utah, and in addition to being a full-time writer volunteers as a literary tutor.
Reviewed by Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine March 2015