Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: Across the Sea, Across the Plains by Shelli Simmons

I intended to have this post up on July 24th, the day that Utahns celebrate the arrival of the Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.  But I had other things going on, so I didn't make it. But it is a fabulous book.

ACROSS THE SEA, ACROSS THE PLAINS: The Epic Account of the Willie & Martin Handcart Companies from Europe to Zion
by Shelli Simmons
Cedar Fort Inc., 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4621-1017-9
LDS Nonfiction
Reviewed from purchased copy.

From the wilds of Rural Denmark to the soot-blackened streets of London, one by one, they heard the message. They felt the Spirit's power. And even as their friends and family turned against them, they held strong to their fledgling faith. These remarkable Saints were only beginning their journey--one that would take them from their beloved homes, to a new continent, and on toward Zion.

Join the handcart pioneers in their epic journey to Zion. Beginning with the conversions and persecutions they experienced in Europe, this remarkable book shares the true story of the Martin and Willie handcart companies as you’ve never heard it before. Follow along through the miracles and heartbreaks with eye-witness accounts, first-hand documents, and personal testimonies. Thorough and well-researched, this is a must-read!

I loved this book. Despite having heard the story of the Martin and Willie Handcart companies many times before, I found myself learning a great deal about some of the individual's who were there.  I found it very humbling to read of the dedication and sacrifice that so many made to follow God's command to gather to Zion.  To read of individuals who had the means to come by wagon who donated their money to others and came by handcart instead. The story of a family whose twelve-year-old son disappeared the night before they were to set out across the plains made my heart ache.  How the parents must have wondered about their son, but when they were promised they would see their son again, the continued on their journey. They did indeed see their son again, but not for 20 years.

I especially enjoyed reading the stories in the actual words of those who experienced them. The author uses many actual journal entries and ties them together beautifully. I really admire the author for conducting such extensive research and organizing it all into a coherent whole. I highly recommend this book for any who enjoy reading books of LDS history, or just a faith-filled journey of suffering and sacrifice with miracles sprinkled in.

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