The Conversion of Jeff Williams

Provo is a world away from San Diego. In this topsy-turvy tale, it is the wealthy, religious, east-bench Provoans who enjoy the best that life can offer and share it with a less privileged, laid-back, So Cal teenager over one summer vacation. At first, Jeff finds himself dazzled by east-bench affluence and faith. But as the summer progresses, events persuade him to rethink this religion-and-riches culture and to accept that the normal temptations and foibles of youth–without the Porsche–are just fine: “Every September before school, Dad gave me a blessing and told me to be receptive to the guidance of the Holy Ghost. I didn’t particularly like the idea of the Holy Ghost following me around, checking up on what I was doing all the time, but Mom said I needed all the help I could get, particularly when it came to girls. I liked living in Aunt Helen’s eight-million-dollar house. It made me feel like I might enjoy the summer more than I had thought I would! . I knew that I wouldn’t be able to wander around the house in my boxers and t-shirt, but I felt important.”

“Douglas H. Thayer takes Mormon fiction to new literary heights in a well-crafted demonstration of faithful Latter-day Saint fiction examining how the applied gospel shapes and gives purpose to human lives. In this landmark coming-of-age novel, Thayer, a BYU professor of English and creative writing, explores growing up humanly and Mormonly in the modern world. Thayer captures seventeen-year-old Jeff Williams’s memorable summer, spent away from California beaches and with his admirable, spiritual and ill cousin Christopher Lowery and his affluent family. Set on Provo’s east bench, the novel follows Jeff’s conversion and his introduction to genuine love, deep sorrow, and to the soul-satisfying Mormon way of coping with human life and death. In this tender and moving love song to Mormon spirituality, Thayer shows how Mormon literature is done. I am pleased to recommend it.” –Richard H. Cracroft, BYU Magazine

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