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Riding in the Shadows of Saints: A Woman's Story of Motorcycling the Mormon Trail
Searching for Faith, Family, and Inner Peace on the Back of a MotorcycleBetween 1846 and 1866, about 50,000 Mormons traveled the Mormon trail, burying more than 6,000 of the faithful along the way. Four generations ago, seven of Jana Richman’s eight great-great grandmothers walked all or part of the 1,300-mile trek, from Nauvoo, Illinois, on the Mississippi River to Salt Lake City. Traveling on faith and little else, they endured unfathomable hardships—bitter cold, extreme heat, mud, icy river crossings, blizzards, buffalo stampedes, disease, hunger, and exhaustion—never stopping until they reached their promised land where they could be free to practice a religion that few outsiders understood and many violently condemned.One hundred and fifty years later, Jana Richman packs maps and a laptop computer on the back of a motorcycle and follows the route of her ancestors, searching for the peace and faith the women before her carried with so much confidence. Jana also searches for a clearer understanding of how her devoutly Mormon mother is able to reconcile an independent spirit and enormous inner strength with her intense belief in a patriarchal institution. Riding into the nation’s heartland, visiting graveyards, chatting with missionaries, and soaking in the rituals of the faith she so casually shrugged off as a teenager, Richman begins to unravel her family’s mysteries and confront her own long-held prejudices about the Mormon Church.From the Trade Paperback edition.read more
Raised a Mormon, Richman had heard stories of her seven great-great-grandmothers walking from Nauvoo, Ill., to the promised land of Salt Lake City in the mid-19th century. Long after leaving the religion and going through a middle-age pensive period, Richman, whose writing has appeared in the Progressive, decided to make the same journey, albeit alone and on a motorcycle. The result is a mixture of roadtrip musings, quirky adventure tales and spiritual reflections, with a healthy dose of unresolved family issues. It's an unusual blend, and those who aren't curious about traveling by motorcycle may find themselves skimming through the parts about driving in the rain or why more women should ride Harleys. But Richman's other adventures-both physical and spiritual-prove universally compelling. Especially notable are her thoughts on religion, which have a refreshing air of detachment. As Richman's trip progresses, she goes deeper into self-reflection, finally admitting that an "hour's ride offers more introspection than a year's worth of expensive therapy." She gradually unravels her emotions about her mother, a devout Mormon disappointed in Richman's lack of faith, reaching a resolution by the time Salt Lake City emerges on the horizon. Map. Agent, Doug Stewart. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved