Book Review: Falling in Love with Joseph Smith b Lane Barnes
This is a review of the “uncorrected manuscript for limited distribution.”
I was very interested in reading this book. Having grown up in Salt Lake City as a non-Mormon, I was curious about what would bring this woman to a place, in her adult life, where she decided to convert to Mormonism.
Sadly, I was disappointed in the read from the very first pages. The author is already fascinated by Joseph Smith and has been since she was a little girl. At least I think that’s what she said – I was a bit confused by the way the story moved from the “smoking ruins of Vietnam” to her time with PBS when she worked on a special about the Mormons. Where is her journey to this point? It seemed more a story about “I’ve loved Joseph Smith forever, even before I became a Mormon,” rather than a conversion.
The author also makes references to things that she assumed I knew. Joseph Smith used peep stones? For what? He spoke into his hat? That’s how he read the golden plates – by looking into his hat? She referred to these things as if the reader has certainly read a biography of Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon. I have not.
This isn’t the longest book, so I was determined to push on, hoping things would become more clear, the writing more smooth. Alas, it did not. Suddenly she tells us “the taxi may have been an even bigger factor.” Taxi? What taxi? Then, they did go to church (pre-conversion to Mormonism), they didn’t go to church – huh? And then, because the author is so sure that Mark Twain would also have loved Joseph Smith, and that Tom and Huck are much like Joseph Smith, she writes them into a scene together. Ugh.
And so, I bailed on this book. I really, really, really wanted to read it, understand it, experience her journey. But I couldn’t do it. It’s very possible that this is a style difference and that other readers will love her style and story, but it was not for me.