"UPON DESTINY'S SONG," by Mike Ericksen and Sage Steadman, Empath Media, $19.95, 324 pages (nf)
The actual story behind the novel "Upon Destiny's Song" is a wrenching, tough story of Mormon pioneers headed to Zion. The tale told in print by Mike Ericksen and Sage Steadman loses a little in translation — it's more a book to skim than to relish.
There are plenty of sobering moments as the Ole Madsen family leaves Denmark and comes to America to join the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the West in Zion.
Madsen has to give up the way they pass down family names (his sons last names would have bee Olesen and his daughters would have been Olesdatter), his comfortable home and his life.
The family has to toss over prized belongings and leave more and more as they work their way to Salt Lake. The family Bible goes. So do the precious pages of parchment one daughter tried to save.
A little girl has to give up her doll. Her father flings it into the desert.
They blister their feet, go hungry, fall ill and watch people around them die.
It's truly a story of loss, of blind faith and raw courage even after the family gets to Utah and the generations carry on in the faith.
But it's simplistically told and somewhat difficult to follow as it jumps from storyteller to storyteller, from real time to the past and back to modern-day interviews and discoveries.
Based on the actual journey of those who were part of the Willie Handcart Company, this book is no doubt valuable to those with ancestors who made that pilgrimage.
It comes with a CD of pleasant music as well.
It's well researched, obviously, and "destined" to become a good story.
It's just a little difficult to become and to stay immersed. There's a haunting story in there, but somehow that doesn't translate to this telling.
And, actually, the epilogue at the back with pictures and pertinent facts about some of the characters is the most interesting part.
One might want to scan that first.
The children listen to their parents and obey without question. The people are hardy, if maybe to the point of a seeming coldness. They rely on pure testimony and God for survival.
There is no sex mentioned, no profanity — just plenty of cold, hunger and suffering.
It's based on the 40-minute documentary "Walking in Obedience: The Ole Madsen Story." And, it's available as an interactive e-book with embedded video, photos, music, journals and historical content, according to the authors.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.