Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Review: Follow Me To Zion

Book Description
James G. Willie knew the trek would be arduous when he left Iowa City in July 1856, leading 500 handcart pioneers on a 1,300-mile journey across the plains.

But he could not have known that his people would run out of food while still hundreds of miles from Salt Lake City nor that the winter of 1856 would begin in the middle of October with prolonged, severe storms. Sixty-nine members of his company would die along the way. Yet from this tragedy emerged triumphant stories of personal endurance, courage, heroism, and unwavering faith.

Follow Me to Zion recounts 20 compelling stories of members of the Willie handcart company and their rescuers. Dozens of full-color images by artist Julie Rogers enrich this keepsake volume, which pays tribute to the men, women, and children who have become enduring witnesses of the power of faith and sacrifice.

Here you will find excerpts from their own accounts of the journey, learn what those faithful pioneers did after reaching the Salt Lake Valley, and read reflections on their lives by descendants.
The simple words “Follow Me to Zion,” cross-stitched onto small pieces of fabric kept in the journal of a handcart pioneer, are an invitation that still calls to us today.

The stories and paintings in this beautiful volume can inspire us to live true to our faith and reach out to help others do likewise.

Product Details
         Size: 8" x 10"
         Pages: 272
         Year Published: 2013

About the Authors
Andrew D. Olsen is an editor for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the author of The Price We Paid: The Extraordinary Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Pioneers. Andrew and his wife, Linda, are the parents of 3 children.

Jolene Spendlove Allphin has a love for the 1856 pioneers and rescuers that continues to grow. She has published nearly 300 biographical sketches of them in Tell My Story, Too. Jolene and her husband, Michael, are the parents of 11 children.

Julie Boswell Rogers is an acclaimed artist who has won many awards. Her art has been featured in Church publications, visitors’ centers, and the Church History Museum. The book Emma, the Elect Lady contains many of her paintings of Joseph and Emma Smith. Julie and her husband, Russell, are the parents of 5 children.

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My Review: *****--5 Stars
I'll be honest--I've grown up hearing about the pioneers and their trek, as well as the handcart companies and their struggles, but before reading this book, I never really understood how bad the situation was. This book shares the stories of 20 different families and how this journey effected them. I love how it goes on after the trek and tells what happened to these people after they reached Salt Lake. I also enjoyed hearing the thoughts of a descendant from each of these families.

I grew up in a small Northern UT town and the home of James G. Willie was about two blocks from where I lived. I know the descendant who restored his home (I used to babysit his kids and was good childhood friends with his niece) and loved reading what he said about Captain Willie. Having that small connection really hit home.

There was something that really struck me as I was reading these stories: I actually knew people who lived at the same time that some of these pioneers lived. Some of these little pioneer children died in the 1900s, after living long, full lives and my grandparents were alive when some of them were. It really wasn't as long ago as I thought it was.

I read a few stories at a time, stretching it out, and finished the book on the day this group arrived in Salt Lake, which really seemed to be symbolic. I would recommend this to everyone--it makes a person realize that things aren't as hard as they seem--there are harder things to endure in life. It really makes me grateful for the modern things that I have at my disposal.

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