Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review: Safe Passage by Carla Kelly (Whitney Finalist 2013)

Title: Safe Passage
Author: Carla Kelly
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Source: Digital Copy
This book would be rated: PG or PG-13 for violence

As a convert to the Mormon church, I've always felt a little bit like the redheaded stepchild when my friends start talking about their pioneer ancestors who walked across the plains with the Martin Handcart company or who heard Joseph Smith preach in Nauvoo. But my husband is of good Mormon stock-- his ancestors pulled handcarts and founded colleges, they wrote hymns and worked on Nobel-prize winning chemistry projects. The men married many women and had multitudes of children. And many of them escaped from Mexico in the early twentieth century with nothing but the clothes on their backs. So I was naturally drawn to Carla Kelly's Safe Passage, which is the story of Ammon and Addie Hancock, who had been living in the Mormon colonies in Mexico until she threw him out a few years before the story opens in 1912. Addie somehow got left behind with her ailing grandmother while the rest of the community escaped, and Ammon goes back to help her make her way to Texas.

Kelly is one of the gems of the Whitney Awards. I was introduced to her work by reading the Whitneys, and every year I am excited when I find one of her books on the finalist list. Her stories are always well-plotted with interesting characters, and Safe Passage is no exception. Her work straddles the line between historical fiction and romance, and Safe Passage, with its story of an estranged couple falling in love again as they work together was interesting and sweet, without being saccharine.

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