Angela Hallstrom’s debut novel, Bound on Earth, hit the market this week. I just bought a copy on Amazon. Here’s why you should whip out your credit card and do the same:

1. The writing is skillful and artistic, a true literary novel. I’ve never seen anything like it in Mormon lit (although I’m no expert–I don’t read much in this genre because I’ve been disappointed with what I’ve tried).

2. The story is meaningful and thought-provoking. Angela’s insights into family and faith go deep. I walked away satisfied and enlightened.

3. The tone is uplifting in the best sense of the word–not sentimental, not happily-ever-after, but hopeful. This is a rare gem–an LDS story that’s realistic AND faith-affirming.

Sound like something you’ve been wishing you could read? That’s what I thought. And the more copies that sell, the more books like this we’ll see. So if at all possible, don’t borrow a copy from the library or a friend, BUY a copy for yourself and consider giving copies as gifts to your reading friends and family this year.

To read an excerpt and advance praise, including a glowing review by Levi Peterson, go here.

To read William Morris’s interview with Angela, go here.

To buy direct from the Parables Publishing, go here.Angela, thanks for giving us this fabulous literary gift!

February 8, 2008

12 Comments

  1. Kristen

    February 7, 2008

    Wow, I can’t wait to read this. I read Peterson’s review/summary and it just seems like it will fill a missing link in the Mormon lit world. Thank you for the post, Kathy! And thank you, Angela. Writing quality literature is one of the best ways to evoke change and create meaning in our lives.

  2. Deborah

    February 7, 2008

    Just ordered it — looks great. The reviews brought to mind my other favorite Mormon Lit book: Linda Sillitoe’s Sideways to the Sun.

  3. Dalene

    February 8, 2008

    Well done Angela! This looks like the perfect companion for me next week when I tag-along after 100 high school kids on band tour.

    And I love the cover!

  4. Kathryn Soper

    February 8, 2008

    Cool tidbit about the cover art: It’s a painting done by Angela’s brother. Apparently, talent runs in the family!

  5. Angela

    February 8, 2008

    I want to thank everybody here at Segullah for the incredible support. You’re such a fabulous group of women, and I feel lucky to know you.

    And yes, my brother did do the cover art. If you’re interested in checking out his website, it’s anthonysweat.com. His “real job” is as a CES instructor, but he’s a wonderful painter as well.

    Thanks everybody!

  6. Karen

    February 8, 2008

    I have followed Angela’s posts on LDS fiction and have to admit that I buy a few LDS fiction books, but usually only authors I already know. A few years ago my daughter had a friend who had many, many ‘fluffy’ LDS fiction books and she shared them with my daughter. I like to keep up with what my kids are reading so I read a few of them, mostly skimming because they were all basically the same story with different names and places. They all had these trials happening in their lives-death, divorce, miscarriage, infertility, pornography, sickness and on and on. Sometimes the author managed to have most of these all in one book!

    So I read with interest how Angela rarely, if ever, bought LDS fiction and I could understand. But I thought it was interesting that she wanted to write and sell LDS fiction. (kind of like, “wow, she won’t buy it but she wants to sell it? And she wants me to buy it?”)

    A month or so ago My daughter and I read about Angela’s book online. And our impression was that it sounded like all the other fluffy LDS fiction. With the same sort of trials and hanging onto the faith.

    Yesterday I read the first chapter. It was good, but is it really that different?

    I want to support good writing, but I have to ask, why should I spend my money on this book verses another book? Why shouldn’t I just read it when/if it comes to the local library?

  7. Kathryn Soper

    February 8, 2008

    On Angela’s website she quotes Toni Morrison: If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. That’s what Angela has done, and I applaud her for it.

    Yes, her book really is that different, per my three points above–do those describe the fluff you’ve read?

    But if the sample material and the reviews aren’t enough to convince you that this novel is worth buying, I hope you’ll see for yourself! Check it out from the library and read it. But if you agree that this is writing you want to see more of, buy a copy. Publishing works by supply and demand. If we want to see change in Mormon lit, it’s absolutely vital that we financially support authors and publishers sticking their necks out to bring about that change.

  8. Angela

    February 8, 2008

    You make an excellent point, Karen, and I’m glad you posted this. I knew that it sounded somewhat hypocritical of me to say that I didn’t read LDS fiction, but that I wanted to write it. But saying that I don’t read LDS fiction isn’t entirely true. I actually read a ton of LDS fiction–I was the fiction editor at Irreantum, and I’ve been involved with the AML for years–but I get it from “non-traditional” sources, and most of it is short fiction. What I haven’t read a lot of are novels published by Deseret Book or Covenant or Cedar Fort.

    And I intend to change that, I really do. I know that I’ve been missing out on some good work. Unfortunately, the novel put out by one of the mainstream publishers that I chose to read a few months back wasn’t one of my favorites, but the Whitney Awards and the AML awards for the novel have recently been announced, and I intend to read some of those titles. I’ll definitely report back on my experience with those books on my monthly blog post here at Segullah.

    I’m in no position to compare my book to other books–especially those that I haven’t read–but speaking for myself, I will say that my novel wasn’t written with a particular agenda in mind as far as Mormonism is concerned (meaning, it’s not a conversion story, but it’s not a book with an ax to grind in any way, either). And yes, there are issues in my novel ranging from mental illness to divorce, but, in my mind, Bound on Earth isn’t an issue-driven novel, either. It’s just about people, people who happen to be Mormon and who have conflicts to face.

    And I can’t speak for Kathy here, but one of the reasons I encourage people to buy from some of the smaller presses that cater to LDS readers is simply because they offer us a wider variety of choice. It is difficult for writers of literary fiction (and I really don’t like that word, but it’s the only one I can think of right now) to get published in the LDS market, but in the last couple of years a few publishers have popped up that cater to that particular segment. So it’s not my book, necessarily, that needs the financial support–more it’s the idea that LDS readers interested in literary fiction enjoy having choices, and supporting these smaller presses enables those choices.

    And of course, if you read my book at all–check it out from the library or borrow it from a friend–I would be thrilled.

  9. Sharlee

    February 8, 2008

    A very fair question, Karen. Why should you spend your money on this particular book rather than on any one of the many LDS “fluff” novels? Well, you shouldn’t–unless you care about quality literary fiction in the LDS market. That’s not to say that Angela’s is the only work that falls into that category (there have been an encouraging number of others in recent years), but most of the fiction published by the three biggies (DB, Covenant, and Cedar Fort) tends to be mass market genre stuff (romances, suspense novels, fantasy, historical fiction).

    Books with mass market appeal are often very plot-driven. The story rules. Literary fiction, on the other hand, is more character-driven. And the writing itself is better, more artful. Think Twilight vs. Gilead. Angela’s book is definitely more Gilead, less Twilight.

    There’s nothing wrong with mass market genre stuff. Lots and lots of people like to read it. That’s why it’s “mass market.” But we need the other stuff too–the stuff that reaches deep into our souls and profoundly moves us with its honesty, its complexity, its artistry.

    Bound on Earth will do that.

  10. Karen

    February 8, 2008

    Kathryn- I agree that your 3 points don’t describe fluff fiction. My point was that reading the description and the first chapter on the website do not set it apart from the fluff writing, in my opinion.

    Angela-Thanks for responding. I’m actually quite interested in your book after reading that is a story told in short stories. I enjoy that kind of writing. And I was interested in your desire to tell a story about staying. Very thought provoking! And on buying from the smaller presses, I don’t think that people don’t want to support them, I think many people just don’t know about them.

    Sharlee- I wasn’t choosing between this book and LDS ‘fluff’ novels. But I do have a long wish list with Barnes and Noble so I would be buying one of those if not this book.
    I haven’t given much thought to quality literary fiction in the LDS market. I just care about quality literary fiction in general. It is interesting though, that you seem to think that if a book apeals to the masses it is not quality and doesn’t ‘reach deep into our souls’ Maybe, just maybe, books do different things for different people. What moves you may not move someone else.

  11. Kathryn Soper

    February 8, 2008

    Karen–I get it now. I’m realizing that since I’ve read the whole manuscript, I read the excerpt differently than someone who hasn’t. So I can’t blame you for having your doubts. But if you love literary fiction, I can promise you’ll enjoy Angela’s book. My only complaint is that I wanted MORE. It was one of those stories I wished would never end. And I’m not easy to please. 🙂

  12. Sharlee

    February 8, 2008

    Karen, I just re-read my earlier comment and, ugh, do I ever sound condescending! Sorry about that. Sorry, too, for misunderstanding your question. I guess my answer would remain the same though. You should buy this book if you care about quality literary fiction in the LDS market. If you don’t, then you’re off the hook! 🙂

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