Book Review: Garden of Enid, Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl, part two, by Scott Hales.
About six or seven years ago, the LDS Church did a survey of non-members, asking them their thoughts on the Mormon Church. The responses included that we were very family oriented, honest, hard-working, and …. weird. Yes, weird.
In a Happy Valley world full of Molly Mormons and Bobby BYUs, traditional families, and a LDS chapel on every street corner, Scott Hales brings us into a universe of stark contrasts.While many Mormons seek to be less weird in the eyes of the world, Hales creates a character that embraces weird. Her own kind of weird. Enid is a teenager who has never met her father, lives with a severely depressed and sickly mother, and struggles with the messiness of her new-found religion.
The first volume (Part One) took Enid through her first experience with Especially For Youth (EFY) and the beginnings of a testimony. Part Two takes her through her 16th birthday and a search to find her roots. Scott Hales earned an award from the Association for Mormon Letters (AML) for Garden of Enid, part one.
For Enid, finding herself means making sense of the things going on around her. Why is her mother bed ridden and continually depressed? Who was her father and wy did he leave before she was even born? Why does her seminary teacher continually quote Bruce R. McConkie?
How does Hales understand the teenage mind, particularly that of a teenage girl? When I was young, I asked my grandfather how old one had to be to understand women. He answered that he didn’t know, as he hadn’t reached that age yet. Hales has somehow reached that age to understand women, as his stories reach into the souls of Enid and her mother. These are not cut out two-dimensional characters. They are as real as you and me. I was ROTFL at Enid’s snarky humor (sarcasm is best served up cold and in generous quantities), but also felt deeply her great losses along the way.
In dealing with literature and history, Enid invites authors and dead prophets into her world. Talking with Joseph Smith, an angel named Eugene, Bigfoot (of David W. Patten fame), Juanita Brooks and Charlie Brown, Enid attempts to make sense of LDS history with all of its pros and cons, strengths and skeletons.
I especially loved Enid’s t-shirts. Many stories include little phrases tied to Mormonism: “Radio Free Zarahemla”, “Eight Cows Seriously?”, and “Mormon Misfit.” Several blogs are also mentioned on Enid’s shirts: “BCC”, “Times and Seasons”, etc.
This graphic novel is a great one for parents to share with their teenagers. Some of the themes will be beyond what smaller children can understand. However, for parents and teens the stories open the door for discussions on life’s trials, doubt and faith, relationships, and going through tough times with the help of friends and a great bishop.
I highly recommend this book. I would go so far as to say I super duper highly recommend this book, if Scott Hales will only put M-Star on one of Enid’s t-shirts in Part Three.
Available February 14, 2017 – a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your misfit sweetheart!