Leesie is a Mormon. She’s wholesome, pure and innocent and devoted to the teachings of her church. Dating boys outside her church is frowned upon and the guidelines about dating in general are very strict in the Mormon world:
– Thou shalt not be alone with a boy who is not your brother or your father.
– No parking
– No necking
– No tongue kissing
– No groping
– And obviously, no sex unless you’re married.
And these are just some of the acts that are off limits. But Leesie doesn’t mind, not really, because she’s never really met anyone that made her want to do any of those things anyway. And then Michael moves to town…
Meet Michael – he’s not wholesome, not pure, and certainly not a Mormon. When Michael arrives in town, he’s a bit of a mess. You see, the poor kid just watched his parents die in a diving accident and is being haunted by their faces in his dreams.
At first, Leesie just tells herself that she’s hanging out with Michael because he needs help. He’s broken and she wants to fix him. Michael likes Leesie, though – a lot – and he wants more than friendship with her. It isn’t too long before Leesie realizes that she feels exactly the same way. But what about her church? And what about her dreams to head off to Brigham Young University at the end of the school year? Is it even possible for a Mormon like herself to have a proper relationship with someone who doesn’t believe in the things that she does?
The Mormon guidelines pose some serious challenges for Leesie and Michael. Michael isn’t a virgin when he comes to town and he wants nothing more than to make sweet, sweet love to Leesie. But he can’t even use his tongue when he kisses her, how on earth is he going to get her out of her clothes? He says he loves her, but does he love her enough to respect her religion and their teachings? Leesie doesn’t understand why Michael can’t separate love and sex. For her, they’re two separate entities, but for Michael, they’re one and the same.
Taken By Storm implements the technique of dual narration and readers are able to navigate the story through both Leesie and Michael’s perspective. This technique validates both characters’ arguments and places the reader in a position which allows them to weigh up both sides equally before passing judgment over one character or the other. Michael’s grief over his parents’ death is gut wrenching, but does that justify the way he pushes Leesie? And Leesie’s religious beliefs explain why she resists so much but is it fair of her to preach at Michael, and is it fair for her to deny him the way she is? When two people who come from such opposing ways of life find each other, is it better to just walk away? These are all very good questions and Taken By Storm does a stellar job of addressing the issue fairly and objectively.
This is one of those heart-wrenching tales which demonstrates that, sadly, sometimes love just isn’t enough.
Available in stores March 5, 2009.