Katryn is a teen when she falls in love with a Mormon missionary, which leads to her joining the LDS Church—and enters an insular world of peculiar people. It is within the Church that Katryn finally experiences belonging outside her close-knit family, and yet it will be her mother’s involvement in it that will lead to its destruction.
Born into a well-bred, artistic family, the Nolans (and the man David, with whom Katryn’s mother is attached) are considered outsiders in their small Southern town, where few move out, but fewer move in; where the heat and humidity is like another force of gravity, where the air is as thick as the azaleas that burst into bloom every spring, and where time seems to pass just a little bit slower.
Yet never does Katryn question why her mother and stepfather chose this enclave that is as foreign to them all as the Mormon Church.
Overloved by her stepfather, but underloved by her mother, Katryn never grasps why her mother won’t marry the man she has idolized ever since he came into their lives.
Neither does she question why her father was barred from being buried in the Catholic cemetery, though it seems no one in the town remembers him. Who is the mysterious couple that Katryn and her stepfather see, that Katryn’s mother must never know of? And why does her mother, who was a concert pianist, never touch it anymore?
Never, does Katryn question anything, for life is idyllic in Green Haven, despite their outsider status. It is only after her mother joins the Church that she begins to change, and long buried family secrets begin to come to light, ripping off the shimmering facade that was once the Nolan family. Blinded by years of fanciful storytelling, Katryn must sort through the mystery that surrounds her life, to know who she can trust…and who would do her harm.
Nineteen-ninety-nine was the summer of my Mormon soldier. I would remember forever that summer I was eighteen when Ryan, or Elder Roberts, as I knew him for the first three months he was in my life, came breezing into the coastal northwest Floridian town of Green Haven to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What I remember most about Elder Roberts were his eyes, ocean-green and filled with light, Looking into his eyes was like looking up into the sun from beneath the ocean. It was to that light I was drawn, that same light he passed on to my mother, lighting her candle.
But as for me, Katerina Isabella Nolan, or Katryn, as everyone called me, my luminosity lost its luster because of a lie, though I could no longer ignore God once I had turned my heart over to Him. He had held me in the hollow of His hand, surrounding me with His love. I just hadn’t recognized that love for what it was.
There was a time when the light of Christ within me burned bright, only to burn out like an aging star (both worldly and otherworldly). Like a star in the sky, I had fallen to earth, only to be found by true love, and my light was restored.
Yes, my brief life as a Mormon had been sweet, but my life as an ex-Mormon turned out to be even sweeter.
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