Growing up as Mormon kid, we've several times heard the story of the pioneers that crossed the plains in the mid-nineteenth century and settled in the Salt Lake Valley. Many of us--myself included--have relatives who left all they had to risk death for a better future. It's part of American history. It's a sacrifice thankfully we do not have to endure in our day and age.
But what if we had to do what they did? What if we were asked to basically walk several hundred miles because our religious leaders asked us to? It's something I've wondered about many times in my life. Could I do it? Could my family? And, more importantly, how bad would things have to be in order for us to be required to do such a thing?
That's what Margot Hovley's Sudden Darkness is all about. We're no longer in the 1850s, but in the twenty-first century. The farmers living in southeastern Washington State are living their lives like most Americans, working to support their families and trying to make life as enjoyable as possible, even seventeen-year old Amélie Hatch.
Amélie's like most teenagers, trying to get through school, self-conscious about her looks. She also suffers from an accident she experienced as a child, the result of which is she walks with a noticeable limp.
First the power goes out--inconvenient, sure, but not a big deal for people who live off the land. Next all their electronics shut down. Without which, the people have no way of knowing the country is actually at war and an EMP has destroyed all modern conveniences, from cars to microwaves, to smartphones. Acting upon guidance from their local church leaders, the Hatch Family (sans their father who was away when all Hell broke loose...) begin the trek toward Utah and the saints.
The storyline was fascinating for me. I loved imaging just how difficult life would be for those unprepared for this disaster, which includes most of us. To what lengths would people go when they're starving? Hovley lets us know.
It took me several years to finally read this book after buying it at a book signing in the author's hometown. The kids had it hidden somewhere up in their room. I'm so glad I did read it because it helps answer many of those questions we in my culture have asked ourselves for years. Just what would it be like to walk across the country like those brave people did over a hundred and fifty years ago?