Friday, November 15, 2013

Follow Me to Zion by Andrew D. Olsen and Jolene S. Allphin

Size: 8" x 10"
Pages: 272
Year Published: 2013

James G. Willie knew the trek would be arduous when he left Iowa City in July 1856, leading 500 handcart pioneers on a 1,300-mile journey across the plains.

But he could not have known that his people would run out of food while still hundreds of miles from Salt Lake City nor that the winter of 1856 would begin in the middle of October with prolonged, severe storms. Sixty-nine members of his company would die along the way. Yet from this tragedy emerged triumphant stories of personal endurance, courage, heroism, and unwavering faith.

Follow Me to Zion recounts 20 compelling stories of members of the Willie handcart company and their rescuers. Dozens of full-color images by artist Julie Rogers enrich this keepsake volume, which pays tribute to the men, women, and children who have become enduring witnesses of the power of faith and sacrifice.

Here you will find excerpts from their own accounts of the journey, learn what those faithful pioneers did after reaching the Salt Lake Valley, and read reflections on their lives by descendants.

The simple words “Follow Me to Zion,” cross-stitched onto small pieces of fabric kept in the journal of a handcart pioneer, are an invitation that still calls to us today.

The stories and paintings in this beautiful volume can inspire us to live true to our faith and reach out to help others do likewise.

This is a compilation of stories from Mormon pioneers who crossed the plains of America in hopes of reaching Salt Lake City, a place where religious persecution would become a distant memory.  It is a book of difficulty, death and tragedy but also one of courage, persistence and faith.

I have heard many of these stories before, it's a part of my personal history as well as a part of my religious history.  Whether or not you are LDS, these stories will touch your heart.  

While I have heard many of these stories before, I really enjoyed reading "the rest of the story".  The accounts of what these people did after they survived this ordeal, touched me.  Many went on to lead so called normal lives- in service to their families, their communities and their God.  They were hard working, loyal people.  

I wasn't able to read through this book in one or even two sittings.  This is a book that I had to take one story at a time.  But that is what I loved about it.  All of these stories are wrought with loss and heartache in some form or another.  Some I cannot even imagine. There is so much to be learned from history.  If nothing else, it has helped me to be more grateful for what I have.  Knowing there are people who gave everything for what they believed gives me hope and courage.  Press forward, even when things seem the most bleak.  Just keep going.

This book has all sorts of things to keep me interested.  The illustrations were beautiful.  There were photographs of the people to accompany the stories.  Pictures always help to bring stories to life.  There were pictures of things as well as people- shoes, homes, headstones, journal entries, places along the route, and so much more.  This is a fantastic book.  I'm so grateful to have it on the bookshelf in my home.  It is a beautiful addition to my library.

My thanks to Deseret Book for allowing me to read and review this book for them.  I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Christmas is fast approaching and this would be an excellent gift idea for many people.  I can think of a few in my family that would love this book!  You can buy this book Deseret Book or Amazon.

About the Authors

Andrew D. Olsen is an editor for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the author of The Price We Paid: The Extraordinary Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Pioneers. Andrew and his wife, Linda, are the parents of 3 children.

Jolene Spendlove Allphin has a love for the 1856 pioneers and rescuers that continues to grow. She has published nearly 300 biographical sketches of them in Tell My Story, Too. Jolene and her husband, Michael, are the parents of 11 children.

Julie Boswell Rogers is an acclaimed artist who has won many awards. Her art has been featured in Church publications, visitors’ centers, and the Church History Museum. The book Emma, the Elect Lady contains many of her paintings of Joseph and Emma Smith. Julie and her husband, Russell, are the parents of 5 children.

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