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Book review: 'Unearthed' an entertaining page turner for the whole family

By Branden Hurst

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, July 29 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

"UNEARTHED," by Lara Stauffer, Horizon Publishers, $15.99, 288 pages (f)

"Unearthed," Lara Stauffer's new young adult novel, tells the story of two teens separated by 2,000 years and the trials they face as they discover who they are and readers learn how their lives are connected.

Matt Staubach is a troubled teenager who would rather spend his last summer at home partying than going with his father, Ben, on an expedition to Mexico for the summer — especially when he finds out his neighbor, Taryn Gilley, will be going along. He didn't want her to tag along, but she offered to write all his freshman-year papers if he would let her go with them for one month. This launches Matt on an adventure of self-discovery, reconnecting with his father and unearthing an ancient city.

Teom and Nuria, inhabitants of the ancient city Jacob in the year 33, are trying to coexist in a city overrun with Gadianton robbers (like the ones in the Book of Mormon) when news comes that the chief priest has been slain and their father, Ammaron, has been appointed his successor. Now the small family must decide who they can trust and if they should flee the city; if they stay, they must figure out how to stay alive.

Stauffer spins both tales together in an entertaining way that will keep readers engaged until the last page. The supporting characters are very well developed and add depth to the story as it unfolds. There are Mormon references throughout the novel, and while they may be confusing to some readers who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they do play an important role in the overall story.

At first, the side story involving Teom and Nuria may seem distracting, but in time, readers will find themselves trying to guess the common threads between their arc and the main storyline and how it all will play out.

Stauffer, a member of the LDS Church and mother of four, is an avid reader and, in her own words, "has a fascination with history and the Book of Mormon." She is also the author of a couple of blogs including The Potted Pen.

Branden Hurst is a proud father of four who grew up outside of Utah - and the LDS faith. He has worked in the IT industry for more than 14 years, but in his free time enjoys sharing in wholesome activities with his family and working on genealogy.

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