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May 23, 2012
Latter-day Books
Mothers and Women the Topic of Springtime Books
by Laurie Williams Sowby

LDS publishers are paying their usual spring tribute to mothers and women, with various new volumes offering insights into their contributions. Maybe you got one of the new books for Mother's Day. If not, took for them on sale at a discount after. Here's a sampling of something you may have given or received:

Life Lessons from Mothers of Faith, compiled by Gary W. Toyn, Covenant Communications 2012, 311 pages, $29.99 in hard cover.

Mothers of Faith, compiled by Gary W. Toyn, is a hefty volume with thick, slick pages on which Latter-day Saints from many walks of life outline the contributions their mothers have made to theirs. It's fun to open a page here or there, see a lot of photos (some of which seemingly are not associated with the essay), and read the "backstory" of people you may know.But you'll need a table to lay it on.

Although many among the nearly 50 are predictable choices -- mothers of luminaries such as church leaders, Congressmen, sports figures, artists, and business moguls -- many who are featured are lesser-known, "ordinary" women who've made a difference in their family and community.

Sometimes it's the posterity writing about their grandmother, as in the case of Geraldine H. Bangerter, whose granddaughter Gerilyn Beck Merrill has written the text. (Unfortunate timing with Julie B. Beck's photo on the book's cover, just as she was released from the General Relief Society presidency!) Delightful glimpses into Marjorie Pay Hinckley's life were authored by her son Richard. Several similar tributes, anywhere from two to eight pages, show the influence of mothers across generations. In a nod to modern technology and communication, several bloggers are represented.

There's a wealth of material here -- really, enough for two books -- as there was in last year's companion volume Life Lessons from Fathers of Faith, also by Toyn. An index would make it easier to locate a particular story later on in this encyclopedia-weight volume. In sometimes awkward editorial choice and layout, the writers get almost as much space on the page as their mothers do, but that may be useful to some readers.

(Sensitive noses beware: The heavy ink smell remains in the book weeks after opening the cover!)

Christ's Gift to Women, by Heather B. Moore and Angela Eschler, Covenant Communications 2012, 39 pages, $17.99 in hard cover.

Christ's Gift to Women, a thin but thoughtful and beautifully illustrated volume by Heather B. Moore and Angela Eschler, is more of an in-depth exploration of five particular gifts: mercy, experience, wholeness, nurturing, and seeing.

The cover features a lovely depiction of Mary by Howard Lyon, and inside is page after page of wonderful artwork, much of it by LDS artists and all of it credited on the last page. Although it looks like an art book, the art is enhanced by the text.

Moore and Escher's insights and exhortations make for uplifting, introspective reading, with text ranging from fairly succinct explanation to extensive elaboration. The organization of the book into five "gifts" allows the reader to compare different artists' depictions of the same biblical event, adding more depth to the experience.

The text by these two previously published authors is cleanly edited and includes end notes for reference to sources quoted. Although the layout looks a bit clumsy with oversized type face that leaves little margin, this is overall a wonderful publication. A paragraph from the introduction gives a hint of what you're in for:

"We must learn how to lay our burdens on Christ in exchange for the gifts He offers -- daily peace, love, mercy, encouragement, and hope, to name a few. Despite our latter-day heritage, without this application of the good news, we are as disadvantaged as our Samaritan sister at the ancient well. If we feel powerless before our own weaknesses, fears, and uncertainties of the future, we must come to comprehend Christ's declaration of identity and purpose more fully -- for our divinity is tied to His."


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