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AML Review


House of Mustard:
This was on the AML listserv today:

--- Quote ---REVIEW
 Title:  Rules of Engagement
 Written by:   Stephanie Fowers
 Publisher:  Covenant
 Genre: LDS Fiction
 Year Published: 2005
 Number of Pages: 266
 Binding: Softcover
 ISBN:  1-59156-809-9
 Price: $14.95

 Reviewed by Cathryn Lane

 This story revolves around the difficulties inherent in the BYU mating game.  Everyone wants that perfect someone to bond with forever but the guys and girls of this fictional ward seem to never speak the same language.  

 Samantha, our heroine, is a BYU student living in an off campus coed apartment complex with three roommates and surrounded by a cast of characters that I suspect only exist at BYU.  Samantha admits "I'm a flibbertigibbet. . . A daydreamer, a visionary sort.  I can't keep my feet on the ground. . ."  She also feels that at 25 she is "firmly on the shelf; not just by Mormon standards, but by the world's too."  She's not graduated nor does she have any firm career goal and not only is she single, but the book opens with the end of a brief but promising relationship with Marcus, her Family Home Evening leader.  Enter the mysterious Harrison Bean, a fellow student with an English accent who suggests he can her entire apartment how to be irresistible to the opposite sex.  He promises, "With the proper training, I would chance to say you fine, upstanding ladies could become the hottest commodity in the ward.  Not only would you have a date every night, but you would have multiple dates every night."   The girls are intrigued or desperate enough to listen to his ideas.  Does he really know the secret to attracting males?  Why is Harrison willing to coach this group of ladies?  Not to spoil the outcome, but Samantha and roommates and Harrison find at least the beginning of love, because of or in spite of Harrison's advice.  

 I must confess to having been a BYU coed more than a few years ago and I couldn't decide if I was charmed and amused or appalled and dismayed at this account of BYU social life that seems to be drawn from Stephanie Fowers own experiences.  The girls of C6 were way too much like my once upon a time Provo home, King Henry Apt. 93.  The specific traditions and pranks seem to have changed but not the spirit or the nature of the high jinks or the overwhelming concern with dating and marriage.  I've started to wonder why our culture, both Western and LDS, frowns on cultures that prefer arranged marriages.  

 This seems to be Ms. Fowers first published novel and she has a wonderful voice.  The story could have benefited from some fine tuning.  We don't hear of Harrison's plot to reform the girls until chapter 14 out of 30.  The cover indicates that great plot twist comes when the men of the ward hear about the "manhunt plot" but this development seems to be anticlimactic and not make much difference in the outcome.   The charm of this novel comes from the characters and their antics but a more experienced author might have tightened the plot.  I'm still wondering what the secret information is that will get you a great guy that loves you.  I have a single daughter who's a senior at BYU.  Maybe she would like to know -  maybe not.  I look forward to hearing more from Stephanie Fowers.    

--- End quote ---


--- Quote ---I'm still wondering what the secret information is that will get you a great guy that loves you.  I have a single daughter who's a senior at BYU.
--- End quote ---

Honey, a senior at BYU? She's what, like, 23-24, tops, if she went on a mission? (Of course, she could have followed my route and graduated a year early on the 10-year plan.) At any rate, worrying about a girl being an old maid at 24 is ridiculous. Sheesh. This is yet another example of why I should never have been living in Utah at the age of 25. Well, you know, besides all the fun I had. :)

Oldie Black Witch:
Ahem. I was a senior at 28. Ditto about the fun and stuff.

I agree, although it's too bad she missed the point of the story. Ack, can I give it away? Hmm, well, it's not about learning the tricks of the trade, so to speak.

Oh well. I just think it's interesting that the story either charms her or appalls her, nothing in between, ha ha. I never realized I was so controversial. Wait, what am I talking about? I think I have a subconscious, albeit 'inexperienced' knack for it. The tone was nice overall I guess. Ugh.

Do reviews scare anybody else? I think they're worse than critiques because it's after the book's been published and you can't do anything about it (shrug).

Hey, controversy often sells books, so enjoy it while you have it.


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