Book Review - Morman Literature
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by Veda Hale
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be raised a Morman?
In the book Ragged Circle, Author Veda Hale, tells a tale of the inner struggles, frustration, love, mid-life crisis, and dealing with teenagers and toddlers, all from within a LDS ‘Morman’ culture.
Malena Gould is a good, faithful LDS ‘Morman’ mom struggling to put life’s disappointments in perspective in her own life. She is now a 40 yr old, once budding and aspiring artist, pregnant with her 9th child. Unable to take another sentimental Mother’s Day, Malena heads for the hills with her at-the-moment youngest child, 13 month old Kenny.
Malena lives in Small Town Utah. Not all Morman women have nine children. And not all Morman women feel the disappointment of unrealized aspirations and undeveloped talents and the naked realization of the reality of the infringement marriage and children make. But many do.
Fiercely loyal to her family, yet unfulfilled as a person, Malena wrestles with herself to put her life, religion and family responsibilities in perspective as her husband has an opportunity to possibility get the break he has been looking for: to live his dream of supporting the family by being an artist.
It is not that they weren’t meet their expenses with Garret's current job, it was just that every month was a near miss. There was never anything left over, and with growing teenagers, the conflict was never ending.
With so many demands and so little energy and so many questions, how was Malena to survive.
One of the luxuries of living in rural Kamas, Utah was riding horses. Malena loved horses. So, today being Mother’s Day, she determined to take the ‘day off’ and ride to the mountains and use her own artistic abilities while the rest of the family attended church. Armed with pencil and paper and Kenny strapped to her back, Malena found her favorite spot and worked to get settled.
“You’re supposed to cooperate,” she scolded. “Mother’s Day, remember? These three hours are mine.”
Kenny laughed and reached to be picked up. Malena shook her head. He turned to play with the strings on the back of the saddle, Straightening up, Malena looked toward the eastern mountains again. “I’m going to see if I can draw something,” she whispered. But she didn’t move. Kenny crawled over, pulled at her leg, and babbled something adorable. Malena bent and kissed him. “Yes, that’ right. Maybe I could be nearly as good as your father.” Kenny clapped his hands and reached for her again. She picked him up, kissed his neck, rubbed her cheek against his shiny blond hair, and let eyes rest on the grandeur of the skyline to the west.
Kenny began bouncing in her arms, beating his hands on her back. “How long has it been since I was here last?” Malena wondered out loud, letting him slither down her leg. “Not since you and Jill were born, anyway.” She turned and scanned the twenty acres below. Six years ago she and Garret had decided to get close to nature and become self-sufficient.
(Malena) shook her head and placed her hand on Kenny’s bright head. Raymond’s indifference, Aimee’s rebellion, Fielding’s unassertiveness, Carl’s belligerence, Nola’s directness, Julies’ hypersensitivity and imaginary companions, Jill’s awful too frequent crying and whining, and herself, feeling old, tired, resentful, letting discontentment leak into everything. No wonder Garret spent so much time in his studio with that woman, Lisa. It could be the break that would make him regionally well known and could mean he could make a living with fine art and not have to do architectural renderings.
Now, in the mist of all this inner turmoil, 15 year old Ammie was gone. She had run away. Putting her personal discontent aside, Malena now is forced to deal with a rebellious, defiant and now run away teenager. Morman values are reevaluated. The application of her Morman doctrine examined as it applies to real life, parenting and personal fulfillment.
Garret is not only Malena’s husband, he is her bishop.
“The speech Malena was expecting didn’t come. Instead he slumped like a beaten man. “Malena, why do women feel trapped? We were called to administer to Sister Mitsner last night. She’ sick and pregnant again and that’s how she said she felt, trapped. But she wouldn’t let it be just because she was pregnant. She said it had to do with a lot of things.”
Malena came and sat by him. What could she say? Here it was, the question she suspected, even hoped, was out there for other women beside herself. And she knew how the bishop of a ward was expected to be a counselor to those under his jurisdiction. “I don’t know, Garret, “ she sighed. “She’s right. It’s more than being pregnant. Lack of understanding, I guess.”
“Help me understand, Malena. If I’m going to help people, I’ve got to understand you women.”
Life has a funny way of working itself out. Through compound situations, answers come, insight and priorities become clear, and relationships strengthen. The Ragged Circle is a book of discovery, inner satisfaction, and joy of the women in the Church.
If you have ever wondered about the philosophy that holds a family together, Ragged Circle tells the story as no one else can.
“Yes, it’s been a long haul lately, mostly alone and each of us with different challenges.” (Garret) leaned back and smiled adding, “for a purpose.”
Malena almost laughed, but instead turned so that through misting eyes she could see the stars. All together the heavenly bodies silently made a statement about immensity, unendingness, and eternity. When she could speak, she whispered, “This world is usually so lonely.” She lifted her head. “I mean it’s lonely, but out of all the world and all of anywhere, our two spirits have covenanted to keep struggling to understand, accept, help each other not feel the awful lonely part so much.”
Garret laughed and hugged her close again. “Yes, out of all the world, out of the billions of people, it’s you and me. How about that!”
The message of Ragged Circle is one of comfort. For women who may struggle to feel fulfillment as a wife and mother, here is a bone-deep story that not only tells it like is really is, but assures every family-exhausted woman that she is not alone.
About the Author
Veda Tebbs Hale was born and raised in the small Southern Utah town of Panguitch in the 1940s.
She grew up riding horses, raising doggie lambs, and helping her father on the family sheep and cattle ranch. A love for family life, the beauties of the outdoors, and her Morman religion and culture was instilled in her through experience. Yet, Veda grew up with a love of travel and the outside world encouraged by her mother and father.
Veda is a graduate of BYU. She is married to Glen B. Hale. She followed him to Japan, California and back to Utah where they did spend some time living in the Kamas Valley in Northern Utah. Veda knows first hand about living the life of Malena.
Throughout her life, Veda's loving husband Glen, has worked hard to help her realize her dreams, giving her opportunity to peruse her writing, painting and intellectual interests. Through lean times, Veda utilized her college experience by teaching school.
Veda and Glen are parents of three children and, at the time of Ragged Circle's publication, the grandparents of fourteen and growing.
Ragged Circle is a goal realized, a message spread, and a way of life explained.
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