Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book Review: And It Came to Pass by Laura Stone

Adam Young is a devout Mormon whose life is all planned out, by both his strict father and his church. He follows the path they’ve established for him, goes off to his mission in Barcelona, Spain, and realizes that his life may not follow the trajectory already chosen for him.

His mission companion, Brandon Christensen, is a handsome, enthusiastic practitioner on the surface. But as their mission progresses, they both realize they have major questions about their faith… and substantial feelings for one another.

Jewel's rating:

Full disclosure: I am not religious. At all. And I'm not really a fan of organized religion, either, for many many reasons that I won't go into here because this isn't the right forum. However, I will say that the whole idea that a person should feel ashamed about having feelings or sex or a relationship with someone of the same sex is abhorrent. When religion is used to oppress people, I get angry. And I felt such anger during some parts of And It Came to Pass, that I wondered if I would even make it to the end.

So you might wonder why, since I have such an aversion to religion, I would read a book that is so heavily religious as this one. One so "in your face" with it all. The answer is I generally don't unless I am well familiar with the author. I need to be sure that there is hope and with unfamiliar-to-me authors, such as Laura Stone, I would have normally passed this story right on by. But I have a trusted friend who read it and recommended it to me, so I felt it was worth the chance. I will say that And It Came to Pass was not an easy read for me.

The story is told from Adam's POV, so we know what kind of upbringing he had. We know how unhappy he is and how he feels unworthy because he can't find the joy in his religion and his mission that he's seen in others. He feels like a failure because of it. While we don't see and experience Adam's family before his mission starts, it is obvious that his house was not one of love. We see it in every thought that Adam has. We see it in his every fear. Adam is so repressed and comes from the strictest of strict families. His parents are not loving nor are they accepting of anything outside the strictest interpretation of what the church teaches. Homophobia and religion aside, his parents were awful people and I hated them for how they treated their own child.

Brandon's family, in contrast, were wonderful. Brandon was raised in a house full of love. While his family was devout, they also seemed to know when to step back and use their own reasoning skills. They weren't afraid to question doctrine and search their own hearts for answers. And without their support, this story might not have worked as well as it did for me. Brandon embodied every quality that growing up in a house full of love and support can impart. He wasn't afraid of encouraging others. He was a positive influence on everyone around him - rather than being someone others were afraid of. He was a leader, not a dictator. And without him to show Adam that life didn't have to be what his father insisted, I fear for what would have happened to Adam.

And It Came to Pass is a beautifully written and poignant story about two young men who discover, with each other, that love transcends all things. And that loving each other is not only possible, but beautiful and life-affirming. That they can be true to themselves and be happy. It's also about what a family should be. How families should sick together and be supportive. And more than anything, And It Came to Pass is about love and overcoming life's obstacles in order to embrace it. Adam and Brandon's journey was filled with uncertainty and angst, but what they had was gorgeous and, as painful as their journey was, I'm glad I stuck with the story until the end. It really was worth it.


Review copy of And It Came To Pass was generously provided by the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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