Caldera Ridge | Deep Questions and All the Nature Things

I’ll have to admit I’m a little nervous to be writing this review. Why? Because I know the author! My first semester after switching from a music major to an English major, I took the dreaded ENG 325 class: Language Theory-Grammar and Usage. And you know what? I’m such a nerd that I absolutely loved it. It’s also the highest grade I’ve gotten in a college class to date. Both of these facts I owe at least in part to Brother Harrell, who is an absolutely fantastic teacher as well as being a super fun one too! So when it came time for Scott to take an English class for his “foundations” courses, I insisted that he take it from Brother Harrell.

Shortly after Caldera Ridge was published, Scott bought it directly from Brother Harrell and brought it to me to read, and I was sure excited to read it! Especially because it takes place so close to my beloved Rexburg and has all the Idaho nature things that I just love. It was especially fun to read it from the passenger seat in our car as my husband drove us to Colorado, and every time I looked up from reading all the nature things, I got to see all the nature things.

In case you didn’t know, I love all the nature things.

But it wasn’t just the nature things that made this book interesting. One thing you should know about this book is that despite it being about Latter-day Saints, it is not your average fluffy Deseret Book easy reading. This story is much more complex and deals with bigger issues than most of those books do.

You see, not only is this book about a man who has an emotional affair, which might pass for a fluffy Deseret Book novel, it’s about finding answers to questions a little bit deeper and more intense than most religious reading you may be used to.

This book was about a lot of things, but to me, it was about finding answers to those deep, unanswerable questions. In the case of this book, it was the question of how we can truly have agency if we worship a God who knows what we’re going to choose. But the question itself wasn’t really what mattered to me as I read. It was the journey that the characters took as they sought out peace and understanding from a God that sometimes seems unreachable.

Another interesting part of this book is that it dealt with false revelation and included a character that believed himself to be a prophet. I actually spent a great deal of the book wondering if this character was really receiving inspiration from God, which I have to believe was intentional, and raises its own question: How do we know if revelation is actually revelation?

These are just two aspects of the complexity of this book, and believe it or not, it gets even more complicated than that!

In short, I really enjoyed reading this book. I loved the language and the descriptions, and I really loved all the nature things (in fact, despite the awesome complexity of this book, I think my favorite part was a simple description of a great blue heron taking flight). But I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you’re willing to put a lot of thought into it. Like I said earlier, it isn’t easy reading, but it can be enlightening reading if you’re willing to put forth effort as you read. If not, you’ll probably be left a little lost and confused, wondering what exactly happened and why. But if you do put forth the effort, if you’re willing to study this like the totally awesome piece of literary fiction it is, you just might learn something about yourself, about your questions, and about your God.

Recommend: Latter-day Saint fans of literary fiction

Cleanliness: There’s nothing too explicit, but this book definitely deals with some mature topics, including affairs, suicide, sex, and child molestation. There’s some minor language and violence as well.

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