Saturday, September 20, 2008

Day of Remembrance

I have made no secret of the fact that David G. Woolley is my favorite author. So you know that if I am going to review a book written by him, that it will be a positive review. So I guess I could just say, "Wonderful book. His Promised Land series is great. Get them, read them, love them." But that would not do justice to this book. Or the series. But let me try to put into words how I feel having just finished Day of Remembrance, book 4 in the series.

There are all kinds of books. Books you read over and over, books you love, books you read and promptly forget you read. Then there are the books you read that change your life, change who you are. Day of Rembrance by David G. Woolley is one such book. David Woolley has a way of telling, writing, imparting a story that reaches deep inside to my soul and resonates with the fibre of my very being. And when I finish with one of his books I am left longing for more. I feel a shift inside, a change of who I am and how I see the world. I want to go back to the scriptures and read them again with this knew knowledge, this new insight.

And I want book 5 to be published already!

So, Day of Remembrance. Book 4 in The Promised Land series. From the inside flap and the back cover:

Old World 600 B.C.: Under mandate from their prophet-father, the sons of Lehi face treachery and lethal danger as they seek to secure the brass plates from the ruthless Captain Laban. Meanwhile, Zoram and Elizabeth work feverishly to smith new plates and engrave the prophecies of Jeremiah--a vital task that must be completed before the Feast of the Trumpets, celebrated on the Day of Remembrance.

Old World, 19th Century: In his home built above the remains of Laban's treasury, Sephardic Jew Reuben Kessler anticipates the marriage of his son Danny on the Day of Remembrance. When tragedy strikes on the blessed day, the devastated fathers of the bride and groom must cling to their faith that God will remember His covenant people.

New World, 19th Century: Commissioned by the Angel Moroni, Joseph Smith Jr. endures harrowing challenges as he prepares to receive the plates of Gold and translate them into the Book of Mormon. The fulfillment of ancient promises draws near as Joseph returns each year to the Hill Cumorah on the Day of Remembrance.

Three families, three stories—yet in the grand design of the Lord, they intertwine as one. This fourth volume in the Promised Land saga bridges ancient and modern times to reveal the unfolding of a marvelous work and a wonder.

Cover Back Liner

Jeremiah held his hand to is mouth and coughed before saying, "Hidden in the calendar given to Moses is the appointed day for the record to come forth in the fullness of times...I must ready the brass plates to have part in that future Day of Remembrance, and curse any man who seeks to stop me, curse him to death."

Emotionally thrilling, spiritually uplifting, and richly satisfying, Day of Remembrance is the powerful story of the restoration of a timeless principle...kept alive in a brass-plate record sequestered deep in the treasury of Laban, captain of the Israelite guard at the turn of the sixth century before Christ.

This magnificent fourth volume in the Promised Land series takes the reader on a journey that is bold and sweeping in its scope, from the dangerous and intriguing politics of Jerusalem in 589 B.C., to the travails of Lehi and his family in the Sinai wilderness, to a nineteenth-century setting in the Old City of Jerusalem, and on to a young prophet in Palmyra New York, poised on the brink of the most significant events of the latter days.

This is David Woolley as his best. A matchless mixture of robust writing and meticulous research that deftly weaves together the human and divine strands to produce a tapestry of faith, obedience, and courage against all odds, where success seems impossible, but failure is unthinkable. The stunning impact of this story will linger long after the last pages have been turned.

I loved this story, this section of the series. I was happy to see old friends again. It has been five long years since book three. I was thrilled with the new friends introduced to us and mourned the circumstances of saddness in their lives. I am enriched with the new ideas and knowledge gained. Insights gleaned, new thoughts to ponder. But I will admit to somethings I didn't like and I will start with them.

1. There is a marriage proposal in ch.9 that really irritated me. Guy hasn't seen girl in a while, he has been busy. Really and truly busy. Girl starts thinks guy doesn't like her anymore. Guy shows up with a rose and girl immediatly thinks he has come to break up with her. Guy never really asks her to marry him and for a moment there is silly miscommunication about what they are talking about until mom steps in and straightens it out. Those types of proposals irritate me to no end. If you can't communicate any better than that, you have no business getting married. But I got over it. And this particular engagement has my curiosity piqued.

2. David and I actually had a "conversation" about my second problem. It went like this:

Sandra said...
I told the kids that I am blaming you for me leaving the house late this morning. I was really just going to read one chapter while I ate breakfast. That would have been ok, if I had read only one chapter. And I am not happy about the ending of Ch.21

David G. Woolley said...
So blame me, Sandra. I checked Chapter 21. You're right. Its a real bummer. From beginning to end. Really sorry about that. But did it draw you into the story deeper, or what?

Sandra said...
You're right, it is a bummer chapter, but most of it is historical, the ending could have been different- no? And yes, when I was done being mad at you, it drew me deeper into the story.

Now, you will just have to read the book to know why I was not happy. I think I know why it ended the way it did. Maybe. I am hoping that David will further that in future books as well and my thoughts will be either rewarded or changed or challenged or whatever.

3. The book was not long enough and book 5 doesn't come out for 12 more long excruciating months!

Now for what I liked about the book.

Pages 1-378

Ok, I'll be serious.

1.Chapter notes. There is so much to the timing of Heaven that I never even realized, thought about or even knew I should be thinking about. The historical background and scripture references deepen the story.

2.The way Lehi treats Sariah is wonderful. If all husbands treated their wives with such love, tenderness and caring, there would be no broken homes.

3.Sariah. I always picture her the way we see her in this painting, old and weary. I forget that she was not always this person. She was young. She was beautiful. She had dreams. She was the wife of a wealthy man and lived in comfort. All that was taken from her and she followed the man that she loved. She became discouraged. She even murmured against her husband. David shows us the thought process that could have possibly led Sariah to murmur against Lehi. He also shows us her repentant heart. He shows us her deep love for her family, her children, even when they have gone astray and turn from all that she has taught them. He shows us her discomfort as she is fleeing her home and has to carry a baby to term in the wilderness and then give birth in a tent. Her deep despair when she believes that her children, her sons, are dead, never to return to her.

4. Laban and Zadock and their deep evilness, selfishness, greediness. Bad guys through and through. Truly creepy guys. Zadock makes my blood run chill. He would be a poster boy for the recruiting of evil minnions. And Laban, probably has the young girls falling at his feet, if he ever took the time to think of something besides power and glory. Truly the kind of guy your mom warns you about. And in this book you have no problem seeing him for who he truly is.

5. Laman and Lemuel. I liked how Lemuel tried to think for himself in this volume. No longer does Laman do all the thinking and speaking. Lemuel becomes his own person and makes his own choices. Of course they are not the right choices, but at least they are his. And Laman. Could there be a more selfish person? He really should read the chapter notes about the planets and their revolutions and then he would perhaps begin to realize that no, the earth does not revolve around him.

6. I wish we saw and understood more about Sam. However, the chapter where Nephi and Sam are digging clay (I never thought about clay having to be dug and what that takes) is my favorite chapter with Sam. Here is where we see him the most as a member of the family and not just an extra filler person in the story.

7. Oh my favorite scene- when Nephi cut off Captain Laban's head. Now, since this book is based on the Book of Mormon and most of my readers have read the Book of Mormon that this happens won't be a surprise. For those of you that haven't read The Book of Mormon yet, it is scripture and as we all know, not everything that happens in the scriptures is pretty.

Now as to why this was my favorite scene. Every time I read The Book of Mormon and I get to this part, it seems so sanitary. Nephi finds Laban delivered into his hands, he is commanded to cut off his head, he does, he dons Laban's clothes and goes and gets the brass plates. Done. And I always think, but wouldn't there be a lot of blood. What about the splatter? How does he cut off Laban's head and not get blood all over both of their clothes. Doesn't Zoram see the blood and why does he just ignore it? Wouldn't you be freaked out if your boss came to you covered in blood and calmly asks you to open the vault and go with him? Would you just ask how his meeting went? "So, boss, I see you are covered in blood. Tough meeting, huh?" I know.

But not in Day of Remembrance. There is blood and it is not sanitary and clean and done, give me the plates and let's go. Finally, someone else that gets it. Thank you. Oh, and the chapter notes for this scene are great.

8. The story of Joseph Smith getting the plates from Angel Moroni. A story of a young man helping his struggling family out of their hardship. A story of a young man learning and growing into a spiritual man, a prophet of God, called to bring forth the covenants, to usher in the dispensation of the fullness of the gospel. Called to do it on The Day of Remembrance.

I know I am leaving out a lot. But to tell you everything I loved about the book, I would have to retype the whole book! Really. Or do a book report or we should sit down and talk, or you should just go get it, read it, love it, get the rest of the series and then you will know for yourself.

Purchase the book here.

Side note from David G. Woolley's blog :

The Top of the Morning staff is pleased to announce that beginning this coming Monday, September 22nd, the anniversary of Joseph Smith's annual visits with the resurrected prophet Moroni, and ending one week later on Monday, September 29th, the ancient Jewish Feast of Trumpets celebrated on ha-Zikaron, author David G. Woolley will present a week-long series of posts titled Celebrating the Day of Remembrance (ha-Zikaron). A special introductory post titled On This Night will appear Sunday evening, September 21st. Join us for a week of celebration with posts commemorating this holiday season including The Feast of Trumpets, The Timing of Heaven Part II, The Gathering, Moroni, Sariah's Dream, the Brass Plates and more.


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David G. Woolley said...

It changed my life too. I'm so happy that the ideas in Day of Remembrance that were important, interesting, or profound for me were for you as well.

And thank you for taking some of your precious time to relate some of your thoughts on your blog. You're amazing.

All the best,

David G. Woolley

Josi said...

Great review, Sandra, very informative and in depth. I'll have to look it up.

Sandra said...

Josi- yes, read the book. You will love it. And if you get a chance get books 1-3 as well, though you can read this one without having read the others, the story is so much better if you read them all.

Sandra said...

David- This was the hardest review I have ever written. I so wanted to get it just right, to let people know how powerful this story is. I still don't think I did it justice though.

David G. Woolley said...

I don't know about justice, but you were merciful. :)