Book review: 'The Shaken Earth' is a story of Haitian courage

By Rosemarie Howard

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Jan. 7 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

"THE SHAKEN EARTH," by Toni Sorenson, Covenant Communications, $17.99, 349 pages (f)

Toni Sorenson’s book “The Shaken Earth,” is a story of faith, courage, tenacity, hope and compassion — in the face of heart-wrenching poverty, hopelessness and chaos.

Sorenson offers a poignant glimpse into events associated with the 2010 Haitian earthquake through the eyes of 12-year-old Yolisha.

Yolisha and her mother live in a small mountain village. Yolisha has been diagnosed with leukemia and her mother is seven months pregnant. Early one morning, they board a tap tap, a colorful bus, to go to a clinic in Port-au-Prince for medical assistance.

As they board the crowded bus, Yolisha’s main concern is losing her mother. When they arrive at the clinic, Yolisha’s mother is taken into an examination room. While the girl waits, the earth begins to shake.

From that moment, her life and the lives of thousands of Haitians are forever changed. In her search for her mother, Yolisha finds new friends, a new faith and courage she didn’t know she had.

As one of the first humanitarian aid workers to arrive in Haiti after the earthquake, Sorenson draws on personal experience and observation to create vivid, memorable scenes and believable characters. Aside from Yolisha, two of the most memorable characters are Webster and Mona.

Webster, a self-proclaimed grandfather to Yolisha, cares for her in spite of his own poor health and economic struggles. He is a trained teacher and delights in sharing his knowledge with Yolisha and other neighborhood children.

Mona, a mountain of a woman with a heart of gold, is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As an artist, she has a steady income. Through her generosity and friendship many, including Webster and Yolisha, are introduced to the LDS Church.

The author skillfully weaves together several threads, including Haiti’s culture and customs, snippets of Haiti’s history, the effects of the earthquake on Haiti’s people and Yolisha’s introduction to the LDS Church.

“The Shaken Earth,” published by Covenant Communications, is a tribute to the tenacity and courage of the Haitian people and definitely a worthwhile read. The book is also available on CD.

Sorensen is an award-winning Mormon author who lives with her family in Utah Valley. Her other books include "Master" and "Messiah."

Rosemarie Howard lives in a 100-year-old house on Main Street, Springville. She enjoys creating multimedia content. Her website is at www.dramaticdimensions.com.

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