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Book review: 'Skeleton in my Closet' shows difficulties of being divorcee at BYU

By Stephanie Abney

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Aug. 31 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

"THE SKELETON IN MY CLOSET WEARS A WEDDING DRESS," by Sally Johnson, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 242 pages (f)

Sally Johnson’s debut novel, "The Skeleton in My Closet Wears a Wedding Dress," is not a typical college love story. It takes place when the main character, Sophia, finds herself divorced after four months of marriage at the age of 19.

Sophia met her now ex-husband, Travis, at Brigham Young University and is now back at the school while planning, somewhat unrealistically, to keep her divorced status a secret from her roommates.

The author does a good job of showing how much pain Sophia is in after her divorce. She is very self-absorbed. When she is pushed into giving service to someone in need, her outlook improves and things start looking up.

Despite being bogged down with pranks, paybacks and some slow and convoluted scenes, the story has its bright spots, including some interesting characters and lessons learned. Sophia, however, seems to be a slow learner. She spends much of the book hiding out in her bedroom and avoids making friends. She occasionally ventures out in her yoga pants to attend the three easy classes she signed up for or to do her laundry on Friday nights. It is in the laundry room where her friendship with Luke, her home teacher, blossoms. He is a good listener and someone she finally confides her secret to.

There is a host of secondary characters, including roommates, ward members, others on campus and Sophia's family, that Johnson brings in that help with the humor and seeing how intertwined everyone's lives really are.

Sophia is somewhat of a contradiction. On the one hand, she’s depicted as a beautiful blonde who several young men want to date, even though she lives in her sweats and fails to do her hair or makeup. She rebuffs them all, preferring to wallow in her misery. On the other hand, she is constantly involved in ridiculous mishaps, bumping into people, scattering books and papers everywhere and spilling food and drinks on people.

There is no foul language, sex or sexual innuendos. Although the book deals with heartbreak and some anger issues, the violence is never more than a shove or a yelling match.

Johnson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, lives in Las Vegas with her husband and four children. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English.

Stephanie Abney, eternal optimist, retired schoolteacher and freelance writer, lives in Mesa, Arizona, with her husband, Jim. They have five children and 18 grandchildren. She blogs at stephaniesaysso.blogspot.com. Email: sabneyfeedback@cox.net

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