Book review: 'Shelter Cycle' is a haunting, intriguing story

By Wendy Jessen

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, April 20 2013 3:00 p.m. MDT

"THE SHELTER CYCLE," by Peter Rock, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23, 224 pages (f)

Curiosity generally surrounds secluded religious sects. One in particular, the Church Universal and Triumphant, developed a system of underground shelters and enough storage to sustain the group for about seven years. The leader of the church had predicted the imminent destruction of the world via bombings by the Soviets in the late 1980s. The shelters would protect the followers if this happened.

Inspired by true events, author Peter Rock tells the story of two children who grew up in the Church Universal and Triumphant. His book, "The Shelter Cycle," explores the beliefs of this religion from the perspectives of the now adult children, Colville and Francine, 20 years later.

Though they had not seen each other since they were children, two friends are reunited after Colville is "led" to Francine. Francine is now married to Wells Davidson and is expecting her first child. She has mostly left her past behind, but that changes when Colville resurfaces and brings those memories racing back.

The reader is taken on a haunting and captivating journey through some of the religion's beliefs and practices as Colville and Francine revisit their early life. Colville seems to have never stopped following his childhood teachings. He sees people that help lead him on his journey and also hears voices that guide him along the way.

Francine ventures back to the shelters of her childhood that her family helped create. She confronts distant memories and seeks closure and direction as she comes closer to the birth of her baby.

Rock masterfully and innocently explores the effect of such religions on the children raised in them. It's an intriguing look into their lives while also avoiding any judgments on those who have lived through it.

"The Shelter Cycle" is free from offensive material, though it contains mature subject matters.

If you go ...

What: Peter Rock book signing

When: Thursday, April 25, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com, www.peterrockproject.com

Wendy Jessen is a Southern Utah University graduate and a stay-at-home mother of six. Her email is wendyjessen26@gmail.com and she blogs at mormonmomofsix.blogspot.com.

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