Book Review: Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen

Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys by Janet Kay Jensen.
Gather 'round, girls, and listen to my noise,
Don't you marry the Mormon boys;
If you do your fortune it will be,
Johnnycake and babies is all you'll see.
-- Old Western Folksong

When Andy McBride met Louisa Martin, he knew he had found the girl for him. There was only one problem: polygamy -- a lifestyle that Louisa could not escape and Andy would not embrace.

As medical students at the University of Utah, Andy and Louisa fall in love -- but can a mainstream Mormon and a Fundamental polygamist overcome the cultural barriers between them? Both realize that their choices will not only affect their own lives, but will also have an impact on their family, friends, and even their communities. Fearing that the sacrifices required of them would be too great, they go their separate ways.

Yet for Andy in Kentucky and Louisa in Utah, life does not go as they'd planned. While Andy is serving as a country doctor and trying to bury his pain, Louisa is coming to terms with the fact that all is not as perfect in her tight-knit community as she'd believed. As doctors, each will have to choose between keeping the peace in their communities or doing what they know is right. And someday, both will have to face their past and decide if they can make the sacrifice to be together.

Set in the red hills of southern Utah, the cosmopolitan center of Salt Lake City, the Smoky Mountains of Kentucky, and the lake-studded country of Finland, Don't You Marry the Mormon Boys is the heartfelt and engaging story about the power of love and acceptance in an ever-changing and often surprising world.

It sounds good, doesn't it? I picked up this book because a friend highly recommended it to me. I was impressed it was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year. I was also in the mood for a good romance.

I found the story of a boy who is strongly against polygamy in love with a girl who was from a polygamous community kind of fascinating. It was definitely different. And since getting a book with polygamous content published in the LDS market is almost impossible to do, I was interested in how Jensen weaved the story and what all she would include about the practice of polygamy - especially in regards to the LDS Church.

While the story was intriguing, I kept getting lost. Each chapter jumps from either Andy's or Louisa's point-of-view. And within those chapters, you may have long flashbacks to their college days or a family memory. I kept getting confused,trying to remember if we were in Kentucky or Utah, past or present. I often had to go back and re-read and get re-oriented.

Also, if you are a big romance fan, this is not a book for you. Throughout the book, you just know these two are in love and need to be together. You find yourself rooting for them to find each other again. When they finally see each other, it's at a medical convention in Chicago. Instead of reuniting, Andy the idiot, really goes off on Louisa, makes her cry, and she runs off - thus inserting an even bigger obstacle in their path.

Then, fate steps in. Somehow, they both get chosen to be in a group of ten doctors who travel to Finland for a one month internship. Andy and Louisa meet up. Andy apologizes, Louisa forgives him. Then the next three weeks goes by in about three paragraphs. During which time, they fall in love all over again and elope. Yep. In three paragraphs. Hello? Where's the romance? Where's the part about rediscovering each other? They've been apart for over five years! There's so much for them to talk about. But nope. They go for a hike on a hill. They go to a restaurant. Andy proposes. Louisa accepts. Then voila! They are married. Absolutely no romantic pay-off at all. Not even one tingle-to-the-toes kiss.

Then suddenly, it's three months later and you find out Louisa is pregnant. Then they find out it's twins - a boy and a girl. How convenient, I mean lucky, right? Then suddenly it's four years later, and the twins are kidnapped. Yep. I bet you didn't know this was supposed to be a romantic-suspense novel did you? The whole last quarter of the book seemed to be contrived and just thrown in there. I was pretty disappointed.

I think the plot idea is great. But there's so much room for improvement. I would have liked to have seen a better flow between transitions of point-of-view and flashbacks. And I definitely would have liked a better ending. If this book is on your reading list, I suggest checking it out of the library.

QOTC Rating: Three Stars

Would you like to comment?

Jennie said...

I have to agree with your overview of the book. The premise was intriguing, there were pieces that were well-written, but the last part was so contrived it overshadowed the better parts. I didn't like trivializing the differences between the main characters' doctrinal views either. It was an interesting read, but not one I would spend money on.

Danyelle Ferguson said...


I love hearing from you! Your feedback helps me to feel like my reviews aren't off-track. :) Have a wonderful day.