Friday, May 3, 2013

Belonging to Heaven by Gale Sears

Belonging to Heaven by Gale Sears

“Descended from the Hawaiian royal line, Jonathan Napela became one of the first—and most influential—converts to the Church in Hawaii. A man of intelligence, social status, and wealth, he used his considerable position to further the gospel in his native land. He developed a lifelong bond of brotherhood with Elder George Q. Cannon, helping to translate the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian and establish a gathering place for the Hawaiian saints in Laie, Oahu. But when his beloved wife, Kitty, was stricken with leprosy, Jonathan made the defining decision of his life. He would leave his life of privilege to become her caretaker and spend the rest of his life on Molokai, the island of lepers. To those who suffered similar heartbreak and banishment, Jonathan's self-sacrifice became their lifeline. Based on true story, this is an extraordinary novel of a man who chose love in the face of death.” (summary from author’s website)

Gale Sears’s newest historical novel Belonging to Heaven is about George Q. Cannon and his missionary service in Hawaii. While the focus of the book at the beginning lead me to believe that the book would continue to be about George Q. Cannon’s life he kind of drops out at the midpoint and the central character of the novel is revealed to be Jonathan Napala, a Hawaiian saint who helped cannon translate the Book of Mormon into Hawaiian. I enjoyed the story of Jonathan Napala despite the books wandering plot. I could understand if some readers had a hard time sticking with the story because of that, especially if they were not naturally interested in history, but I found the story fascinating and touching. I also loved how Sears wove the Hawaiian culture and language throughout the novel.  It was beautiful. I also loved how well Sears made us feel the connections of the characters to one another.  It is touching to read about how dear the Cannon and the Napala family held one another. I liked seeing how they were able to support one another through their hardships with the letters they shared.  I also loved reading about Jonathan Napala’s friendship with the courageous catholic priest, Father Damien de Veuster. I was brought to tears more than once by the faith, courage, and sacrifice these men showed in serving others in the leper colony. What a refreshing and exemplary example of true brotherhood.  Though, the plot was a bit loose this read was definitely worth the experience.  I can’t help but speculate what era of church history Sears will tackle next.
Visit author's website

1 comment:

Susan said...

I'll have to pick this one up. I've enjoyed Sears' other books -- it's always interesting to read about church history that's not very well known. Thanks for the recommendation!