This Is The Place – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat
‘UTAH 1959’ Sky Eccles sat in the old ’49 Buick convertible she shared with her mother, its fenders riveted with salt decay from the Utah roads…. She sat in silence looking at her grandparents’ house at the edge of Holladay, a small farming community turning suburb at the edge of Salt Lake City…. Located at what was once the dead-end of Meander Lane, the little house had been built by her grandfather, Brock Eccles, and her polygamist great-grandfather, Hart Eccles. The house and land was in Sky’s soul, both sweet and scary, like finding a dark spot in the core of a sugar apple.
Sky is in love with Archer Benson and expects him to pop the question any day. It could be a beneficial marriage but Sky isn’t sure what her answer will be. The Benson name is as strong as the Eccles name in the Salt Lake area as well as through the Mormon religion. Sky’s problem is that she’s a half-breed, half Mormon and half Protestant, just as her Grandmother Harriet had been and just as her own mother Stella had been. Her Gram Harriet solved her problem by joining the Church, Sky on the other hand was brought up to make her own choices and with that came her decision to become an Episcopalian.
The decision to marry could tear both families apart. Archer’s father is running for political office and his marrying outside the church is simply not acceptable. Archer has just been accepted to Harvard but without help from his father, he can’t afford a wife plus education.
Gram Harriet has turned her back on Sky since the ceremony won’t be taking place in the Temple. If Sky and Archer marry, she will have no choice but to give up her journalism education and work to help pay for Archer’s education. Being a journalist has been her dream forever. Would her dream ever be fulfilled or would she be expected to be a wife and have children.
So what choices do these two young people really have in deciding their own futures? And what will Sky’s answer to Archer’s proposal be? Will he even ask? Following Sky as she drops back into the past with hopes of finding answers, made me aware of just how hard times really were, not just with religious differences, but also with nationalities differences, especially when it came to marriage. I can remember people being outcasts if they went outside their own “kind” for marriage and even socializing.
Times have changed tremendously over the last 50 years, I feel for the better, but they still have a way to go. “Mixed marriages” are being accepted more and more every day and the children of these marriages are being given the chance to make their own decisions, not just about religion but about life in general. And as this happens the pressures of following in our parent’s footsteps are being lifted.
Now, for a personal note on this book. As a child I lived in Utah twice. My mother’s family is still there and I have a trip planned to revisit the beautiful state of Utah in September of this year. This is the Place reminded me of the beauty of the mountains, the fields and the cities. This will be a trip to revitalize my childhood memories. 2001
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Review Stir, Laugh, Repeat at Amazon.com