Zarahemla Books is gearing up for the August release of our next two titles, and below are some advance reviews for one of them:
On the Road to Heaven
An Autobiographical Novel by Coke Newell
Publishers Weekly, June 25, 2007:
The title, epigraphs, and style of this fictionalized memoir pay tribute to Jack Kerouac, a surprising muse for a story about a young man's Mormon conversion and two-year stint as a white-shirted Latter-day Saint missionary.
At tale's beginning, Kit West, a long-haired, pot-smoking, philosophy-reading 16-year-old from the Colorado mountains, is smitten with Annie Hawk, who has run away from her Mormon parents. An LSD experiment convinces Kit that the Book of Mormon is true, and Annie finds religion. Then the young lovers break up and Kit heads to Colombia, where he knocks on doors, makes converts, conducts baptisms, deals with bullies, misses Annie, and suffers the ravages of relentless tapeworms.
Newell, for many years a media relations officer for the Latter-Day Saints, never criticizes his church's teachings, and some miraculous episodes strain credulity. Still, memoir readers as well as Mormons looking for a somewhat edgy affirmation of their faith will appreciate the lusty, brawling but tenacious missionaries and the tender love story in this sprawling coming-of-age tale. (Aug.)
"I have never read such a gripping story of conversion and missionary labor. It held me fast partly because of the winsome romance mixed into the story of a mountain hippie who finds life's meaning in Mormonism. But the gritty descriptions of friendship and adventure in the Colorado wilderness and of missionaries working the mean streets of Colombia are enthralling in themselves. The candid view of the vicissitudes of a spiritual life will startle readers accustomed to more staid narratives."
—Richard Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (Knopf, 2005)
"This is the book Jack Kerouac might have written had he met Moroni instead of Allen Ginsberg. A wonderful romp to faith!"
—Rodney Stark, Ph.D., author of The Rise of Christianity (Princeton), Acts of Faith (University of California), One True God (Princeton), The Churching of America (Rutgers), The Victory of Reason (Random House)
"An utterly original spiritual tale—lively, quirky, and profoundly moving. Think of it as St. Augustine for the Woodstock generation. Newell's writing is an exuberant ride."
—Terryl Givens, Ph.D ., University of Richmond, author of The Viper on the Hearth (Oxford) and By the Hand of Mormon (Oxford)
"A rollicking, satisfying conversion story."
—Tania Lyon, Ph.D.
If you care to start helping spread the word, that would be much appreciated. And be sure to include On the Road to Heaven on your book-purchase list for this fall, including gifts.