For Marcie Gallacher and Kerri Robinson, creating their "A Banner is Unfurled" series has been a labor of love. As the final installment, “No Greater Love,” is presented to audiences, the authors' devotion to this project is very apparent.
“In each of our lives, we hear stories that touch us with such force that we desire to share them with others,” Gallacher and Robinson state on their website at www.abannerisunfurled.com. “The Ezekiel and Julia Johnson story is one such tale.”
“No Greater Love” continues the Johnson family’s saga as each branch of the family moves independently to settle with the early saints of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Separated by toil and tragedy, the Johnson siblings have been strewn across the Eastern United States. From Kirtland, Ohio, to Missouri they have faithfully followed their prophet in search of a firm home.
As a ragged band of weary Mormons begins to colonize the malarial swamps of Nauvoo, Ill., sickness and despair grip the Saints. Members of the LDS Church succumb to illness and pain and the Johnson family is no different. Threatened with disease, anger, chastisement and apostacy the brothers and sisters of this devoted family are forced to make difficult decisions.
With faith pushed to the limit, each member must choose whether to continue in conviction with the church they have helped to build or whether to turn aside and fall away from the Lord.
“No Greater Love” is the shimmering jewel at the end of a gratifying series. More so than the other books, this volume comes alive as it delves into the souls of each Johnson family member. While it is a work of fiction, the factual bits and tidbits sprinkled throughout the story give it an inviting flavor.
The descriptions are vivid and tangible, leaving readers to feel as if they are part of the journey. It would be difficult not to feel drawn to these historic characters.
The only real problem with the book is that there are so many characters involved it is difficult to keep them straight. With more than 20 people just in the immediate Johnson family — many with duplicate names — the story sometimes becomes muddled. However, because the book follows the lives of real people there isn’t a feasible way around that issue.
That said, Gallacher and Robinson have woven a dynamic story that melds the early history of the church with the lives of their beloved ancestors in a creative and entertaining way.
Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City, Utah. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org and she blogs about her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.