Lives and love entwine in the mesmerizing tale that unfolds in Timpanogos...
Randal Anderson is in seventh grade when he first realizes that women are complicated creatures. As he muddles through his testosterone-infused teen years with nothing more than a simple wish to have a girlfriend one day, Randal has no idea that his soul mate is about to make her first appearance.
One summer evening, shortly after high school graduation, Randal notices a pretty new girl. Though he has never seen her before, she seems strangely familiar. The attraction is so immediate and strong that it almost scares him. But there is one problem—Allyson Crawford comes from old money. Randal comes from a middle-class Mormon family. Despite their differences, however, their love is confirmed in an ancient spirit circle on Timpanogos Mountain. But when Randal makes a stupid mistake, he is mortified knowing he has lost Allyson forever.
After years of regret, a guilt-ridden Randal attempts to go on with his life, but the memories of Timpanogos and that perfect summer love still haunt his mind. He knows what he needs to do to finally rid himself of his phantom love, but it is only then when he discovers that life, just like love, is full of unexpected moments.
I would hesitate to call Glen R. Stott’s novel, “Timpanogos” a coming of age story. It does start while the protagonist, Randal Anderson, is a seventh grader, but it winds far ahead into adulthood, giving the book a wider scope than normal for any story of adolescents. What we do have is a loving, well crafted tale of a young man’s life and loves, his wrestling with faith and his reckonings about how he wants to be and live. There are great struggles throughout the piece, inner struggles and clashes with fellow brethren, with people and their ideals, or lack thereof. It has love and death and a simple philosophy of living, while dealing with the odd codes of our society. It is concise, well written, and takes on the voice of childhood with the elegance of that narrow, beautiful, harrowing world.
Randal Anderson is a decent character of faith that has the human touch of doubt. He struggles and questions often throughout this novel, wondering if the road he is on his right one. It is the Mormon faith that he contends with and I am grateful he is allowed to be uncertain at times; it frees the reader to see him not simply as a proselytizer, but a full and soulful human. Randal has to contend with a great many things along the way; mostly this is because he is a thoughtful, questioning type. He wants to do what is right. He is not afraid, though often feels worried, to stand up to others when he feels they are doing wrong. Thankfully, he wants to know why, to be sure what he thinks is right, actually is. Because of this, he grows to become a more conscientious man than most. In short he has a decent soul.
"Timpanogos" takes us right through to when Randal Anderson is a father himself. Many harsh realities have hit him by then but the beauty of the book is in the search for love and understanding. It is a book full of forgiveness and awakenings. Randal falls and picks himself up and cleans himself off. Early in life he made a grave mistake that cost him dearly and haunted him for many years. He is a blessed man though, in that he learns much more from his mistakes than he might ever have without them. The great upheaval with Chantel and Soeur Chastenet is one example. Even the struggles his beloved Allyson is revealed to have had with her father prove to be more salve than burn.
It is a great searching life laid bare here on the pages of this novel. It is done with honesty, a certain heartfulness, purity and goodwill. I felt clean reading “Timpanogos.” I admit, at times, I was envious of the character, Randal Anderson. His calm way of delving into life's mysteries might serve us all well. With pitch perfect sentences, Mr. Stott allows us to enter into the characters and places rendered here. None of what goes on in the story ever feels false. He has captured youth and growing up, true love and faith, and maturing, exquisitely. The ending is life affirming. It will make you glad, with a smile to light a room.
By F.T. Donereau for Rebecca’s Reads
Timpanogos by Glen R. Stott is the romantic saga of Randal Anderson, beginning as a young boy in the spring of 1958 as he begins to discover the world of dating and the new boundaries and responsibilities of a young adult.
Raised a Mormon, Randal’s religious life gives him great joy and purpose while creating sparks of friction with his new-found interest – respectful though it may be – in girls. When he meets his first true love in a young Catholic lady named Allyson Crawford, the differences in their backgrounds raise serious questions for Randal as their simple dates become more serious entanglements, sealed with a fateful trip to the Timpanogos Mountain. When family and religion come between them, and their desires wax and wane, Randal finds his life changing in unexpected ways without the company of Allyson, and the pair begin to drift into unimagined territories.
By James Grimsby for selfpublishingreview.com