Book Review: A Thorny Path by Sharon Downing Jarvis

A Thorny Path
The Fairhaven Chronicles
Book 4

by Sharon Downing Jarvis

Many thanks to Because Reading for sponsoring the
June Read-a-Series in a Month Challenge.
I did finish the 4 book series, but I didn’t finish in June.
I finished 5 minutes into July 1st – 12:05 am.
Well, I may not have been entered in the drawing for the
Amazon gift card, but I still won in my own mind,
by reading the stories contained inside.
While these books didn’t earn a permanent place on my bookshelves,
they offered a pleasant experience for the most part.

Have you ever wondered where you came from? Who are your great grandparents? Is So-and-So my second cousin once removed? My paternal grandparents came through Ellis Island from Hungary. They met here in the good old USA and married. I must have a passel of relatives over in the Old Country that I don’t know and they don’t know me. (That is probably lucky for them!)

So what does this have to do with the 4th and final book of the Fairhaven series? Let me tell you. Bishop Jim Shepherd gets bitten by the genealogy bug. He has been unable to find out anything about his grandfather, except his name and that he fathered a couple of children and died very young. Bishop Shepherd is determined to find out about him. He and the family take a short vacation and head to “Alabamy” as that is where granddad was from. Wife Trisha is excited, too.

Sixteen year old Tiffani wants to make sure the trip ends in time for her to get back to Fairhaven in time to go out to a dance with crush Billy Newton. She foresees a boring trip traipsing around cemeteries looking at fallen tombstones. Jamie and Mallory are game, knowing that they will get to swim in the motel pool.

On this short trip they meet a host of interesting characters, find out some family lore, and even Tiffani survives the trip. When they get back to Fairhaven, some unpleasant things are afoot. Their new neighbors, the Lowells, particularly Mrs. Lowell, are publishing anti-Mormon flyers. Coming into town is a group planning to hold a rally against the Mormon faith, claiming the church is of the devil. The group is pretty radical and the bishop is worried about the member’s feelings and safety.

I think the author went a bit overboard regarding the anti-Mormon business. I remember taking my children to the open house of the new temple in our area. As we stood in line waiting for our turn to go inside, there were people there handing out anti-Mormon literature and making statements that the church was false. They weren’t rowdy or threatening. My family and I didn’t accept their pamphlets and I politely told the man handing the paper to me that we weren’t interested. I also know there is a church here in town that wants to “de-program” members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I haven’t heard of any rallies, though.

I would give this novel 3 out of 5 stars. It wasn’t my favorite of the series. The author didn’t write any more books to finish off the story lines. I have wondered why she didn’t write more books about Fairhaven. I searched the internet for information as to why she stopped writing the series. I couldn’t find out a single thing. Now, there is a mystery waiting to be solved.

We are left to wonder what happens to the Shepherd family. How much longer is Jim Shepherd the bishop of his ward before a he is released and a new bishop is called? Does his store assistant get married? Does Tiffani go to college or marry her crush? Does T-Rex ever get to play football again? Do the Shepherds get that fourth baby they’ve been wanting? Maybe the author leaves it up to us to decide how the series should end.

Thank you for following me through Fairhaven. I hope this was fun and informative for you. In the meantime, Happy Reading!!

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