Book Review: A Summer with Great-Aunt Rose

Pres. Uchtdorf’s talk from the latest Women’s Conference is now a book.  I reviewed the talk here, and my opinion was that it was a great success given the audience. His story about a young girl reluctantly visiting her spinster great-aunt was particularly on point given the inclusion of 8-year-olds in the “Women’s” conference. His talk was inclusive of all sorts of women: singles, married, with children, without, cat people, women with messy houses, career women, depressed (but not clinically) women, eccentric dressers, women whose lives are different than they had planned, etc. Just like Relief Society should be an amalgam of sisters of different life experiences.

It was pitch perfect for the audience of the meeting.  As I said in my review, it had something for everyone, no easy feat for such a diverse audience. I’m not clear who the target audience is for it in book form, though. What made it work for the Women’s Meeting was that it managed to provide something for everyone. As a book, that’s why it doesn’t work. It’s presented as something between a children’s book and a Pinteresty keepsake book for women. I’m not sure who would buy it and read it because while it has something for everyone, it doesn’t have enough for any one demographic in specific.

The story is light on plot, so it’s probably not going to compel young readers to want to read it. When I was reading at that age, I was devouring a little series about the Mushroom Planet, all about space exploration, danger and adventure. My daughter was reading Junie B. Jones books at that age, with their witty dialogue and hilarious observations on life. This book is gentle and sleepy like Anne of Green Gables but with nothing much happening. The weird cat is barely a cameo. Even Anne of Green Gables, which I found enjoyable as an adult, failed to capture my daughter’s interest in a post-Harry Potter world.

If presented for adult women, it would probably be in the vein of modern wisdom literature (along the lines of Eckhart Tolle or Paulo Cohelo) if there were a few more insights here to ponder. It’s generally about inclusiveness, but there are no perception-altering insights to compel multiple readings and meditations. Great Aunt-Rose’s secret to happiness is faith and love for other people.

It’s a nice little story, but that’s all. What works well in one context doesn’t always work well in every context. The talk could have been expanded into something for either of these two audiences, but the text of the book is just the talk itself with nothing added.

There are many other talks by President Uchtdorf that could be included in a volume of light parables. That might carry a little more heft. Speaking of heft, the hardcover book retails at $15.99 and is available at Deseret Book and on Amazon for pre-order (available August 1).

The artwork by Salvador Alvarez is truly lovely. His website is www.salvadoralvarez.com.

Comments

  1. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    “What works well in one context doesn’t always work well in every context.” This is so important. It’s why the practice of having third – hour lessons based on a Conference talk always fails. Good talks work because they suit the audience and the venue (and the moment). They’re not portable. This was a good (great?) talk. Leave it alone.

  2. lehcarjt says:

    I wonder if the point is the art with the story being a marketing tool to those touched by the women’s conference.