The Deal with LDS Fiction

Back when I was studying English at BYU, many of my professors scoffed at the offerings known as LDS literature.

"Jack Weyland can hardly be considered literature," they pronounced.

I questioned this assumption a bit. Sure, Weyland's prose probably could not compete with Shakespeare's, but no one can deny that Charley was a great story with well developed characters. Still, factoring out Charley and a few others, it was clear that LDS literature had a long way to go.

It's now been twenty years since I was at BYU. I can say in all honesty that some of the best authors I know are LDS. Most of them don't write LDS literature, but some of them do.

A great way to find good books by LDS authors is to read the Whitney Award winners. You can find this year's winners here. If you look around on the website, you'll find the winners and finalists from other years too. The books on these lists are always well written and clean. Some of them contain LDS characters. Others don't.

Today I wanted to spotlight three books that have won Whitney awards in years past and also contain LDS characters. Each of these is a great read, the type you don't want to put down for long.

Lessons in the Jade Dragon Box is historical fiction set in Hong Kong and written by Gale Sears. I learned a lot about the history of China and the history of the Church in Hong Kong as I read the story.

Borrowed Light is a historical fiction by Carla Kelly. In the story, a young woman accepts a job as a cook for a hardened rancher in Wyoming. Both main characters must come to terms with their own faith and doubts regarding the church and temple marriage.

Abinadi is historical fiction about Abinadi from the Book of Mormon. Author H.B. Moore imagined him as a young man. Reading her book made me think of his story in a different light. We also got to see the story through Alma's point of view, which made it even more fascinating.

How about you? Have you read any really great books about LDS characters?