This historical novel by Craig Matthews is reminiscent of the sagas written by the likes of John Jakes, James Mitchner and Collen McCullough. What’s especially wonderful about this book is that it’s based on Matthews’ own family. The stories that unfold are like a gentle weaving of family threads on their unique, but intertwined journeys to build a better life in America.
Two immigrant families, one from Italy and the other from Scotland, set their sights on building a better life in the rural Mormon country of Utah. The key players are Matthews’ grandparents, Joseph, a veteran of the first World War, and Johnetta, a young Mormon woman forced to endure a tragic marriage at the young age of sixteen. Both of them quickly discover that life is not what they’d imagined in America as heartbreak, hardships, devastation and unending struggles ensue. But they are not broken. Instead, love provides a beacon of hope. And thanks to their unwavering spirit for survival, unleashed within them is the true strength of immigrant patriots.
It’s not only a beautiful memoir, but like I’d said before, a saga.
The book is long, but once you identify the main characters’ arc, the pace intensifies. The timing of the release, during the 2020 pandemic presents an eerie coincidence since the first worldwide pandemic also plays an integral part of the tale.
Matthews is an excellent writer and it’s clear to see that his heart is deeply entrenched in this story. He believes that strength and courage in the face of adversity is his grandparents’ legacy and has honored them with this story. This is not only a must read for history and memoir buffs, but for those who believe in the power of hope and perseverance. Well done!
Source: Craig Matthews
Image Courtesy of Craig Matthews