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Book review: 'To Mormons, With Love' warm-hearted, funny book about life among LDS

By Scott Livingston

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, March 17 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

"TO MORMONS, WITH LOVE," by Chrisy Ross, American Fork Arts Council Press, $12.95, 145 pages (nf)

“To Mormons, With Love” is a love letter, including love with a shot of lemon or two, from a kind and loyal friend. Understanding where author Chrisy Ross is coming from will make all the difference in what you take away from her delightful and relevant new book, recently released by the American Fork Arts Council Press.

“To Mormons” is honestly wrought, which makes for an interesting and pleasurable tour through her evolving view of what it means to live among the Mormons. As the story begins, Ross and her family move from Colorado to Utah County, assured by eager real estate agents that “this is a special place” and that “Oprah is building a house here.” The near-monochrome religious preference of the neighborhood the Ross family was moving into was quickly glossed over. As the author writes, “The short answer to the question ‘How did you end up here?’ — a community well known to the 99.99 percent LDS demographic? We didn’t know it was that Mormon. It was an accident.”

Another delight that carries throughout the book is the author’s humor. Whether writing about the propensity of Mormons to overdo things a bit when bringing by Christmas treats or her family’s struggles with whether or not to attend LDS social events, Ross writes cheerfully tongue-in-cheek.

Early in the book she recounts a visit by her parents to Utah and her attempts at “preparing” her mother for the ensuing culture shock. “You’ll feel plenty of vibes here. Wait till we go to the grocery store. It’s totally Mormony.” Her mom asked “Why?” “Hardly any impulse buys near the check-out and they’re usually LDS baptism cards and family job charts. Magazines are covered with a black plastic shield if the woman isn’t wearing a ‘Little House on the Prairie’ dress...It feels like a different world.” Her mom: “I bet the bakery’s good.”

Toward the end of the book, Ross attempts, with mixed success, to instruct both Mormons and non-Mormons on how to get along better. When she’s having fun, the book flows happily along. The rare moments of seriousness aren’t as successfully handled, but even then she deserves sincere kudos for the effort. Every so often, one of her observations is a head-scratcher, but her views, like so many of ours, are based on the people she's met.

“To Mormons, With Love” is a genuine book, written by a gracious neighbor.

if you go ...

What: Chrisy Ross book signing

When: Saturday, March 24, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Where: Barnes and Noble, Sugar House McIntyre Center, 1104 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City

Web: barnesandnoble.com

Scott Livingston blogs about the uphill climb of becoming a writer at sleye1stories.com. He also Tumbles on occasion at sleye1stories.tumblr.com.

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