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“An extraordinary story . . . Like all great memoirs, Riding in the Shadows of Saints engages the heart while delighting the mind.” —Fenton Johnson, author of Keeping Faith
“Jana Richman understands that we can never escape our connections to our ancestors, and neither would we want to Her story serves as an inspiration to us all.” —Dawn Prince-Hughes, author of Songs of the Gorilla Nation
Posted June 19, 2012
This was exactly the right book at exactly the right time. I’m so grateful I found it. If you need a shot of summer courage, try "Riding in the Shadows of Saints."
I didn’t know much about the Mormon trail. And I’ve never ridden a motorcycle across-country alone. But Jana Richman decided—at age 45—to write about riding along the route her ancestors took from Illinois to Utah 150 years ago, and she does it with humor, daring, humility and grace.
It doesn’t hurt that my ancestors were Mormon pioneers. The accomplishments and trials Richman describes in "Riding in the Shadows of Saints" were all the more interesting for that. No one but Mormons would stop along their 1,300 mile trek West to build stopover cities along the way for the faithful to follow: homes built in a day, ferries constructed, and at one stop, more than a thousand acres of land were “cleared, plowed, planted and fenced” in one week before the lead group moved on Westward. A thousand acres. I planted a quarter acre once, and paid a crew to clear it before I started. Industry and wholehearted engagement, amist spectacular sacrifice and loss and suffering. That is at the heart of the Mormon pioneer. 50,000 of them tried the journey Richman rode in 2001, through rain and wind and mud. But they rode in wagons or pushed handcarts, with the fresh, furious venom of the Gentiles, who cast them out of Illinois, pushing them onward. That sort of stamina and resolve don’t simply vanish. They haunt their progeny for generations.
Richman shows, beautifully, the strength of her great-great grandmothers on the trail, and the less showy but dearly and truly lived bravery of her mother. “My mother’s strength was not to be found in assertiveness and activism, but in unrestrained love, compassion, and understanding.” That love extends continually to her apostate daughter who “can’t ever seem to find the obvious path.”
Riding the Mormon Trail on a BMW R 1100 R is not an obvious path. I laughed and read with deep interest, teared up and shouted hoorah a few times, as Richman survived her cross-country trip: a love letter to her foremothers. Until we love and honor our ancestors, we are lost. Get found. Read "Riding in the Shadows of Saints."
Posted October 1, 2005
Read the book twice and felt the pain and faith of the Grandmothers and their families. Jana paints a true picture of those strong and faithful women. They are great examples to all of us. Jana and her mother are cut from that same mold. Strong and Bold! Although the Mother seems to have peace with her world. Jana needs to find that peace and soften her anger towards her Father. Alot of men from that generation were hard on their children. But we grew up and understood why they were that way. We all get mellow with the times. Good research on early Mormon history and this is the telling of a good tale. The Church could use strong spirits like Jana! I think the Cowboy in Wyoming was D. J.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 1, 2011
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