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In a narrative that begins in Blackfoot with references to Riverton Road, Bingham Memorial Hospital, the Idaho Potato Museum and other local landmarks, Jesse Elison offers a "a fun but brutal new and unique insight into the Mormon faith" in his compelling first book: "My Best Mormon Life."
Elison, who graduated from Blackfoot High School in 1994, shares experiences of his childhood in Blackfoot (including losing his mother at the age of 11 and bull riding with his brothers). He writes of serving a mission in Atlanta, Ga.; attending Brigham Young University; studying religion at Harvard Divinity School and law at University of Oregon.
A 495 page project that took four years to write, bound by the meaning of the life and death of his mother, Elison said, "There's never been a view of Mormonism like this. No really...this story is important because it is an honest voice in Mormonism about all the 'holy cows' and while after dissecting them, they emerge even better because they are more real."
Elison said that he has been writing for years and that he has always wanted to write a book. He add that, "many people along the way have inspired him to write, but none more than the memory of his late mother."
Elison said he did not write the book for any particular reader, "just someone that appreciates the cauldron of meaning and who seek immediacy in ideas and experiences.
"With the recent general election, the profile of Mormonism has never been higher. Like any national story, critics and the public at large are asking more questions," he said. "My book concludes that Mormonism has far more to gain by focusing on its unique contributions than by gaining wider acceptance."
Elison says his book not only reveals the weaknesses of Mormonism, but also silences its critics.
Elison currently works as a corporate attorney in Missoula, Mont., where he is working on a story idea for a novel.
"There's a writers' culture in Missoula, so it's a great place to write. I'd love to write full-time, but I expect a lot of writers would say the same," he said. "I visit Blackfoot a few times a year to see family and friends. I've lived in a lot of place, but Blackfoot always feels like home."
"My Best Mormon Life" is now available in print and e-book on Amazon at http://amzn.to/VQTmx3
Elison will be coming to Blackfoot on April 13 to do a book signing at Stinkin' Cute Scrapbook Store (formerly M & H Office Supply).