Abish is characterized as a great example of womanhood and motherhood. The commentary regarding these two aspects are very much a driving force of the book.
Younger readers may not identify as well with the story as the author explores more mature relationship themes.
This book would be best for lovers of religious and historical fiction. Those who have a basic understanding of the ideas in the Book of Mormon are most likely to be drawn to this story. However, its universal Christian ideas and engaging plot make this piece intriguing to most book lovers.
— Livi Whitaker
* * * * *
"THE UPSIDE OF DOWN," by Rebecca Cornish Talley, Bonneville Books, $15.99, 244 pages (f)
Natalie is a busy LDS mother of six. She can't keep up with the daily disasters or demands, and now the bishop wants her to serve as Relief Society president.
And to make matters more complicated: (Surprise!) She's pregnant.
Since the book is titled "The Upside of Down," and Natalie already has a brood that includes children in high school, it isn't much of a stretch to figure out what the book is going to be about and where it's going.
Plus, Natalie and her children witness a testy father being curt with his Down Syndrome child.
The issues are common: One of the daughters wants to date a non-Mormon; one doesn't really want to go to BYU even after she's accepted; Natalie doesn't feel spiritual enough to serve in her calling; etc.
There's also an overabundance of common children incidents. Some of the incidents are amusing and, while familiar, usually not all of the above happen in a single day.
Again, this is a book with good intentions.
The author wants to make the point that having a child with mental or physical problems isn't so much a burden as a blessing once one gets over the initial shock.
But it's told kind of simplistically.
— Sharon Haddock
* * * * *
"MOTHER HAD A SECRET," by Tiffany Fletcher, Covenant Communications, $14.99, 208 pages (nf)
"Mother Had a Secret" shares author Tiffany Fletcher's difficult, and sometimes painful, journey in dealing with the mental illness of a parent, but it also teaches that love can rise above even the most challenging situations. Through love she was able to find healing and peace.
The book is about a mother's love for her children she is striving to protect, the love of a husband who is trying to care for his ailing wife, and the love of a daughter for her mother and all 15 of her mother's personalities.
Fletcher is also very candid about sharing personal accounts which are equal parts loving and heart-rending. Much of the focus is on a daughter's journey to understand and love her mother, despite mental illness.
"Mother Had a Secret," published by Covenant Communications, is the true story of a girl growing up with family struggles most people never dream of. Fletcher's mother was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, which was previously called multiple personality disorder.
Fletcher didn't have an ordinary childhood. While other children were playing dress up and having tea parties, she was caring for her mother, Vickie.
Despite the struggles and trials, Fletcher was able to learn the beauty inside her mother as well. Through her faith, she began to understand that although her mother was far from perfect, Vickie protected her daughter from a greater evil, one that Vickie hadn't been able to escape. She acted as a savior for her children by stopping the cycle of abuse.
The account is all the more agonizing because of the stigma attached to mental illness. This family was left to suffer alone.
"Just like those who suffer from more accepted illnesses like cancer or diabetes, what those with mental illness need most is understanding, kindness, and support," Fletcher said.
— Melissa DeMoux
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