"CAN'T HANG OUT ... GOTTA BUILD A SHIP: Unleashing Your Inner Nephi," by Shane Barker, Cedar Fort, $12.99, 145 pages (nf) (ages 12 and up)
Mormon teen books often explain gospel principles in an understandable way, are filled with graphics, and contain both fun and spiritual stories. Shane Barker's new book "Can't Hang Out Gotta Build a Ship: Unleashing Your Inner Nephi" is no exception. As a whole, it's an entertaining book that introduces the young mind to spiritual concepts by examining aspects of the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi's life and showing how to apply these aspects personally.
Each chapter in the book starts with a practical, modern-day story about youths and works into the scriptures and personal application. For example, in chapter five, the Barker details a fascinating near-death experience from his own life and relates it to the adversity Nephi experienced in his life. Relating specific examples of how Nephi dealt with affliction (especially with his brothers), the author then explains how to apply that in your own life.
Youths of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints live in a digital world filled with distractions. Getting a teen to read a book is tough, let alone a church book. What's interesting about this book is that almost every page has some sort of graphic on it. There are text boxes, cartoons, checklists, self tests, challenges and charts. For my middle-aged mind, all those graphics were distracting. The visual appeal of this book should be right up a teen's alley.
As a youth leader in my own LDS ward, there are several youths who would benefit from Barker's book. The gospel concepts seem basic, but some youths are getting into the scriptures for the first time and need the basics. They should at least know the story of Nephi to follow this book and have a mind able to liken the scriptures unto themselves.
Creativity isn't a bad way to get attention if a meaningful message is then communicated. That's the direction this book takes. And it accomplishes it with a good deal of success. This would be a good book for early- to mid-teens who know the scriptures and are beginning to apply them in their lives. This book is a deep dive into Nephi and his life. It should motivate teens in a variety of ways to live the gospel and make good choices.
Ryan Morgenegg is a multimedia specialist for the Deseret News.