Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, July 28, 2006

Please Pass the Geritol

by Kerry Blair

It has recently come to my attention that I am old. Not older than the hills or older than some of Rob’s jokes, but old just the same. I might never have noticed if a childhood friend hadn't called to invite me to lunch yesterday. I hadn’t seen Tamra since high school graduation and I didn’t recognize the 21st century version of her. In fact I thought she was her mother. No wonder at first gasp I thought, “My gosh, she’s ancient!” My next thought was, “My gosh, we chased grasshoppers—and boys—together. I must be ancient too!”

Tonight’s gathering of Future Crypt Keepers of America is sure to confirm my worst fears. In other words, this weekend is my 30-year high school reunion. (Thirty years?! I can't even type it without shuddering and I've tried twice now.) For the many readers who were toddling around the pre-existence when I graduated, 1976 was America’s bicentennial. Gerald Ford was president, but not for long. It was an unremarkable era. We’d been born a little too late for the Beatles and Vietnam, but a little too early for disco and Desert Storm. The Grammy-winning song in 1976 was Love Will Keep Us Together by Captain and Tennille, and the Emmy for best actress went to Lindsay Wagner for her role in The Bionic Woman. (I feel another shudder coming on.) Believe it or not, we survived adolescence without microwave ovens, personal computers, Internet, iPods, cell phones, CDs, DVRs, DVDs, and even—gasp—VHS. (We thought 8-track tapes and PacMan were the coolest things ever invented.) It was still a Brady kind of world (I’m the same age as Jan), notable mostly for its truly awful fashion. We girls wore Gunny Sax to prom, escorted by boys in pastel-hued tuxedos. (I am not making this up, but neither do I have pictures to prove it. I destroyed all the prom photos – and the wedding album - when I put in contacts and/or came to my senses in the 1980s.) Male or female, we had big hair, big glasses, and big plans to change the world.

The world has changed a lot since 1976, but I'm not responsible.

I am, however, wondering about those changes. This morning I read an article by LDS author Janette Rallison in which she quotes James Fleck: “If religious-minded people can’t use the media effectively then a-religious and antireligious people will form the value systems of the world.” Janette adds, “I take that statement very seriously because I’ve seen it happen in my lifetime. I grew up watching The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mayberry, and The Brady Bunch. Do any of you remember when the Love Boat was shocking?...Well, TV has come a long way; so have books. This has sparked a debate: does media influence behavior, or does behavior influence media?”

I don’t know where that debate was sparked, but I’d be interested in pursuing it here. Many people who visit this blog are writers, and more than a few of you are professional writers, editors, publishers, bloggers, etc. My question then: Are we helping to form the value system of the world? Are we trying to? If we’re not trying to influence it, should we be? If we are trying, how are the best of us going about it?

I ask because even though I am old, I may have a few good years left. After all, President Hinckley is almost twice my age and he’s still doing his part to build and bless and save the world. What if I have a virtual “lifetime” left to devote to the cause—a life mostly free of diapers, PTA carnivals, and cub scouts this time around? How do I best invest it? As a writer, an American, a Latter-day Saint what should I…what should we…be doing in the next thirty or fifty or ten or two or however many years we have left in our turns on earth?

I know they’re hard questions, but don’t leave the frog blog bog without at least thinking about them, okay? I’m having a midlife crisis here, people. Help me out.

And if you really can’t comment on any of that, could you at least recommend a good wrinkle cream and/or homeopathic remedy for hot flashes? Hurry. I'm getting older every minute.


At 7/28/2006 11:22 AM, Blogger Keith Fisher said...

In the words of Red Green (a PBS TV Personality) "I'm pulling for you, we're all in this together".

As far as the debate is concerned. It is the same old chicken before the egg debate. but you provided the clue, we both remember when the love boat was questionable. and do you remember Love American Style? Those shows may have reflected what was going on in the world but until those shows put it in front of our faces. It's like JFK's extramarital affairs: what we didn't know didn't hurt us. I think that media does influence others. (what should I have for breakfast? I think I'll have that breakfast cereal I saw on TV.) We as writers must live up to a responsibillity given to us by the person who gave us the talent. We must first build not tear down.

I really am with you on this it's my 30 year reunion this year also.

At 7/28/2006 11:26 AM, Blogger Keith Fisher said...

but until those shows put it in front of our faces, Many of us weren't aware of it. (see I really am with you I forgot to finish my thought.)

very funny. thanks

At 7/28/2006 1:07 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Ah, there's the rub, Kerry. As authors, we have the forum given to us to help shape the moral climate of the world. And yet, when we try to do it, we are called "preachy" by our readers and our critics. It is such a fine line we walk, between sharing our values and doing it in a way that's socially acceptable. And so we find ourselves struggling to get the message across without being overt, but sometimes it can't be made any other way. Sigh.

But yes, we do have a responsibility. Not just as authors, because not all of us are, and not just as LDS persons, because not all of us are. But each of us, as humans, has the responsibility to lift up those around us, to share what light and knowledge we have, and to reach out to those that are suffering around us. It's part of the code we take on when we enter the human race.

At 7/28/2006 1:11 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

All right Kerry, this is it. It's bad enough that your books are so much better than mine, now your blogs are so much better too. It's like the Gospel Doctrine teacher who you switch off with every other week, who is so prepared and thought provoking it makes you look like a dweeb. How much would it cost to have you do my blog under my name? Just don't mention hot flashes, I'm trying to keep those a secret, and besides, my doctor says I may be able to clear them up by not eating so many enchiladas before bed.

As far as your comment about what were are doing as LDS authors, it really strikes a chord with me. On the one hand, we have authors writing overtly uplifting and spiritual novels that are read almost exclusively by the LDS market. That is awesome and I think most of us have received e-mails telling us how someone's life was changed or uplifted by something we wrote. (Except for Rob who has to pay his family to post nice things about his books on his blog.)

Just the other day, a good friend related an experience she had where a family member had come back to the church. When she asked what the motivating factor was, it turned out to be her book. That’s worth more than all the royalties in the world.

On the other hand there are national novels that my not overtly promote the church, but that show you can still write a clean, compelling story without all the sex, language, etc. A successful national writer has the opportunity to speak often where they can share their values.

Either way, we are absolutely impacting the world’s values. And just in time too. I absolutely believe that the adversary uses all types of media to make wrong seem right and abnormal seem normal. A successful LDS and national YA author was at a meeting of school librarians where a panel discussion on sex in YA books was basically oriented toward why all types sex were vital in YA literature. Fortunately she was there to argue for keeping books clean.

At 7/28/2006 1:19 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

I love you, Keith Fisher! Maybe it's because misery loves company. (The Class of '76 still rocks -- even if it's mostly in rocking chairs these days!) But I do appreciate your insight. It really is a chicken/egg kind of thing, isn't it?

You know, it was Janette Rallison's article that started me thinking and I must add that I really admire that woman. The national young adult market has changed more rapidly than any other, IMHO. I don't know how many Scholastic Book fairs I've sat at, scanning pages of books about rape, incest, unwed motherhood, suicide, loss of faith and so on. But right there beside them -- and outselling them, in fact -- are Janette's wonderful books of humor and hope. Her teenaged characters live in the same world and are faced with the same issues, but they choose the right (without wearing the rings) and stand for truth and righteousness without those words ever being used. Sister Rallison is one of many using her talents to build the kingdom of God outside the church, one smart, funny novel at a time.

At 7/28/2006 1:31 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

You know what, Jeff, you're another of my heroes. (Except that either you're falsely modest or you can't read. Perhaps you're just inanely chivalrous. I'll go with that.) Anyway, what you are doing will set the national market on its ear. I'll finally come right out of the dank, dark, dusty closet and say it: I love horror. I can't read a lot of it anymore because some of the best writers are too graphic, but the best of the best are the truly gifted writers like you who don't need sensationalism (read: sex & gore) to drive their stories. In other words, I am hanging on every word that proceedeth out of that peculiar land of yours. I just wish you'd write faster! I also wish you'd go back to updating us on your progress and sharing excerpts. Love it.

At 7/28/2006 4:15 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

Personally I feel it is the media influencing society. It might not have been that way at first because it was shows like Leave it to Beaver. But I think over the years the media has been pushing the envelope and then after seeing it in the media, society justifies it and pushes as well.

There are cases where Hollywood says they don't do anything that isn't already out there, but it is like a case of one in a billion. Once portrayed in media however, it becomes the norm. That is one good thing about LDS fiction. It can still be exciting without the other stuff. I hate how no one edits themselves anymore. You know it is almost as if for the rest of the world there is no such thing as offensive language because it has been used so often. So keep up the good work writers, you might be helping more than you think.

At 7/28/2006 4:26 PM, Blogger KB said...

I'm one year behind you (1977) but I say AMEN to everything!

I have been thinking about this a lot lately too, re-evaluating my life. Given current life expectancies, and barring a too-close encounter with a bus, I have somewhere between 30 & 40 years left.

I'm more than half-way through with my life, but nowhere near half-way through the list of things I want to do before I die. Top of the list--writing the 40+ novels ideas sitting in my file cabinet. So if I quit my job today and write full-time, I might could squeeze it all in.

At 7/28/2006 5:08 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Regarding this debate, i'm very pleased with the direction LDS fiction seems to be heading. More and more they're getting away from preaching and focusing on just telling good, clean stories.

I can see a big difference between even my first and latest book (only two and a half years). With On Second Thought (my first) my publisher was very careful to make sure I added in a good moral, and a moral that was explicit and elaborated upon. With The Counterfeit, my latest, while there is a definite moral theme, it is not clear cut, and brings up several questions without answering them. There is no specifically religious moral, no "and the moral of the story is: pay a generous fast offering".

I think it's been the overtly preachiness of LDS fiction that has earned it a bad name, and has turned people off to it. I read a book a couple years ago that had a perfectly good story, and then twenty pages at the end in which the main characters told each other how their experiences related to various scripture stories. Even for myself, an active church-going scripture-reading prayer-saying KBYU-watching Mormon, it was nauseatingly saccharine.

To compete with a destructive modern media, we need to offer them a comparable substitute. No one is going to switch from reading Harlequin Romance to reading The Work and The Glory, but they might switch from reading Harlequin Romance to Anita Stansfield or Michele Ashman Bell.

I'm increasingly pleased with the diversification within LDS fiction. Fifteen or twenty years ago, popular LDS fiction was only Jack Weyland-ish books: heavily-religous novels with overt moral themes. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, it was only catering to a crowd that wanted Sunday School Fiction. Now, more and more, LDS fiction writers are able to provide quality fiction in most every genre, finally providing a real alternative to traditional media.

I'm intensely optimistic for the future of the market.

At 7/28/2006 5:31 PM, Blogger Janette said...

Kerry, you are the nicest person in the world! (Which is why at book signings everyone who walks through the door came to see you.)

You all echo my thoughts completely. We are needed, both in the LDS market and in the national market. If we can get away with a tiny bit of preaching in our books--great. More often than not we can't. (Editors love to take all of that out of novels. In It's a Mall World After All my editor let me leave in Santa and Christmas but took out a little girl telling Santa to say hello to baby Jesus for her.) Just writing moral stories about moral people is a big step in the right direction, though. That's not to say that bad, awful things won't happen to your characters, but they can still handle life with integrity, honesty, compassion, and all of those things we learned about in Sunday School.

Keep up the good works! You all rock.


At 7/28/2006 6:19 PM, Anonymous Marnie Pehrson said...

Kerry, I'm right there with ya at midlife. About 8 years behind you, but, hey anything over 40 makes you start evaluating your life.

As for the debate, I say that sin is ancient, but Satan is very effective at using modern media to promulgate the rampant acceptance of it. (Watch out, I’m ready to climb my soapbox.) I think where Satan introduces his most corrupt ideas is on daytime talk shows and he’s been doing it for years. For as long as I can remember, they've tried to shock people... to push the limits of what is appropriate. Gradually, what's seen there creeps into the rest of television programming, books and movies until what’s portrayed there becomes accepted by society.

I remember being floored in the 80’s when a man who’d had a gender operation to become female was on Phil Donahue talking about his relationships with other women. Did I get that straight? He was a man turned woman involved in lesbian relationships. Totally shocking in the 80’s. Today it’s still a little bizarre… I mean, why bother with the gender operation – right? But it would be classified more as an “alternative lifestyle” today.

I’m going to ask the frog to close his ears lest what I say next offends him, but I believe the media has us all like frogs in a pot. The water starts out cool, then rises to tepid, then it starts simmering around us until we’re boiled alive. All the while the majority of us are totally clueless.

Here’s something to think about…Did you know that the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between a real and an imagined event? It accepts them both as truth. Think about that… whatever you read and see enough … your subconscious mind begins to believe. What does that tell you about children and teens who grow up watching graphic material all their lives? What hope do they have? Therefore, I believe it is our “mission” (if I may be so bold) as authors to put out good in the world -- to lift, inspire and enlighten a darkening world in an entertaining way.

If Satan can package wickedness in an entertaining format, why can’t we (who are on the Lord’s side) package goodness as entertainment? I don’t think we have to be preachy to do it. Anything that promotes good is helping to counterbalance the influence of evil because that’s one more positive imagined event that people put into their subconscious minds. Over time if they put enough, it will make an impact.

At 7/28/2006 7:38 PM, Blogger Cheri said...

Brilliant blog, Kerry. =)

I'm also a product of the '70's realm---I graduated in 1979. I remember big hair, bell-bottomed jeans, 8-track tapes, and groups like Abba, ELO, Supertramp, etc.

As a teen, I hardly ever heard a swear word in the movies and on TV. I sat home while some of my friends went to watch "Saturday Night Fever," because my parents were appalled over its content. =)My, how times have changed.

In my own way, as an adult, I have tried to make a tiny difference in the realm of fiction. I'm probably one of the authors that most of you consider preachy. I write primarily for the youth---and I have taken that role quite seriously through the years.

But times are changing yet again, I understand there is a current need for good, solid, LDS fiction minus the overt preachiness. I applaud your efforts.

I also cherish the letters and e-mails I've received through the years that indicated something shared in one of my books touched a life, and softened a heart. I believe one of you mentioned that items of that nature far outweigh the less than hoped for royalties. I agree.

LDS authors have a wonderful opportunity to write good quality fiction. In that way, maybe we can offer a positive alternative to what the world deems "normal."

At 7/28/2006 9:21 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

Kerry, if you're old, I hate to say what I am. Suffice it to say, I've got you beat. My Dad will be 99 on his next birthday and he fought vigorously against going to an assisted living center almost a year ago when he was injured in a fall. He didn't want to go because he didn't want to be stuck with a bunch of old people. I'm like my Dad. To heck with aging gracefully; I plan to fight it every step of the way.

I hope your reunion is better than mine was. After forty years, our class officers still got drunk and made fools of themselves.

As for helping to form the value system of the world, I agree with you, Kerry, and everyone else who has responded to your questions. Some of the responses have been almost as eloquent as Kerry's blog itself. We can and do make a difference, sometimes by speaking out loud and clear and sometimes by planting more simple messages of morality or ethics in our readers' minds without hitting them over the head with sermons. We may not be able to hold back the flood of satanic ideas, vulgar messages, and crude language of the world, but I firmly believe God holds His children responsible for not only their accomplishments, but for their sincere efforts to combat evil. One thing I've learned about the gifts God blesses us with is that they're not intended for the recipient alone. His gifts are meant to be shared and those of us He gifted with the ability to write have a responsibility to use His gift wisely and for the benefit of as many of His children as we can reach. We need to do all we can to raise the world's value system.

At 8/04/2006 10:33 AM, Blogger tjackson said...

I am a little concerned by a few of the comments that I've read here. According to one comment, LDS writers are too "Preachy" and should be content with coaxing people that LDS books are as good as Harlequins.

Well, if that is the case, I give up writing right now. As for the "Preachy" part, if the only purpose in writing is to entertain, then someone should have told Tolstoy and Dostoevsky that they should give it up, because they are too preachy in their works. Not to mention Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens. I mean, hey, Victor actually mentions God and everything. He tries to tell us that maybe we need to humble ourselves and get closer to him. Instead, he should have been concentrating on reaching the Harlequin markets. I don't think anyone ever told him that. And that Dickens character got really preachy when he tried to tell everyone they should actually help their fellow man. I mean, the nerve of the guy.

OK. I don't think anyone here is going to profess to be a Dickens or a Hugo, but what is wrong with striving to become someone like that? If you give up your voice and your philosophy in your writing in order to reach the Harlequin readers of the world, then all you are doing is demeaning your own work. If God has given you the talent, I don't think that's what He meant for you to do with it.

I'm not trying to say that there isn't room for romance. I love Charlotte Bronte's works, as well as Jane Austin. What I am trying to say is why can't the LDS writers strive to become more than just entertainers? Why do we have to settle for that? Why shouldn't there be a further message in the work that might help someone to see that their life could be better, that they could gain a testimony, that life isn't just about looking for the next entertaining moment?

I'm sure at this point, there are those who are trying to figure out if I am a writer. Yes, I am. I have written for a very long time and have had a lot of works published. Just not in the LDS Market. More in the technical market. I do have an LDS fictional work that I am currently trying to get published. However, I am starting to change my mind about submitting it to the LDS publishing market if all they want is to become the next Harlequin publishers of the world. I do believe that the LDS work that is out there is valuable to the readers. However, if the publishers and the writers alike are striving to dumb down everything and remove anything that is worthwhile from their works, I don't necessarily think I want to move in that direction. Personally, I think I'd rather take it to a different market that believes writing with a meaning is still worthwhile. I don't know where that market would be, but even if I have to publish it on my own, I would rather do that then make concessions that take out the philosophies I believe and want to portray to the world.

I would like to know if there are any others out there who feel the same way. If so, then I think it is the voice of those writers that should strive to change the LDS market into a better direction. The voices trying to remove anything of worth need to be drowned out. There was a prophecy somewhere that the LDS world would have its Miltons and Tolstoys, I would hate those writers to never have a chance to get published, because their works are considered too preachy by others.

At 8/04/2006 11:41 AM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...


I appreciate your concern and your sentiments. However, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that religious elements be taken out of LDS books or books by LDS writers. I would say that still 70-85% of all LDS books have specific religious content (and that’s probably a conservative estimate.) That is a great thing to have. If we don’t include LDS religious elements into our works, who will?

I think that point some people have made is that not ALL LDS novels must contain a faith promoting experience. There is a place for a good clean mystery or a good clean romance that doesn’t end in someone getting baptized.

Kerry Lyn Blair, one of the best writers in the market, has this quote by Washington Irving on her web site.

“Methinks I hear the questions asked by my graver readers, ‘To what purpose is all this—how is the world to be made wiser by this talk?’ Alas! Is there not wisdom enough extant for the instruction of the world? And if not, are there not thousands of abler pens labouring for its improvement? It is so much pleasanter to please than to instruct—to play the companion rather than the preceptor.

“What, after all, is the mite of wisdom that I could throw into the mass of knowledge; or how am I sure that my sagest deductions may be safe guides for the opinions of others? But in writing to amuse, if I fail, the only evil is in my own disappointment. If, however, I can by any lucky chance, in these days of evil, rub out one wrinkle from the brow of care, or beguile the heavy heart of one moment of sorrow; if I can now and then penetrate through the gathering film of misanthropy, prompt a benevolent view of human nature, and make my reader more in good humour with his fellow-beings and himself, surely, surely, I shall not then have written entirely in vain.”

There is a place for good works both subtle and direct. There are people whose lives have been changed by a conference talk that hit them like a bolt of lightning and there are people whose lives have been changed by a good friend who stuck by them through hard time without preaching a word.

Don’t give up your aspirations to write LDS novels, but remember that world needs both meat and fruit.

At 8/04/2006 11:50 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Hey, t -- Great comment. You've stated very well how many of us feel about writing for both the LDS and national market. In fact, in re-reading the comments myself, I think everybody here agrees with you. I know my publisher does -- Which is why they publish Stephanie and Jeff in addition to me and Rob. (Sorry, Rob. I know you're a "serious" writer now, but I couldn't resist.) Seriously-er, t, no worries when you're ready to submit that work-in-progress. The pulishers and the market are ready, willing and eager to embrace your values.

I'm glad you've joined in the discussion, and I'd love to know more about you and your novel.

At 8/04/2006 12:29 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

The preachiness that some readers object to is not just moral lessons. Preachiness is hitting the reader over the head with moral lessons, creating a story where the characters and plot are tools to teach, not elements of a compelling and believable story in their own right.

Forgive me for blabbing about my own work, but I think it's relevant to the discussion, so I'll use it as an example. I wrote a novel that contained the overt and central theme of standing up for truth in the face of intense opposition. The main character seeks counsel and comfort and strength in the Book of Mormon. He compares his faith to that of Nephi and Abinadi--and worries that he comes up short. He prays. He thinks of scriptures (which I actually quote in the text) that are relevant to problems he faces. He tries to help another character put aside an evil past.

Yet--the story is a fast-paced thriller. And no reader has ever told me the story is preachy (including Rob who made the preachiness/Harlequin comments above. He really enjoyed the book, or at least he said he did after I slipped him fifty bucks and promised to wash his car).

Moral lessons? Absolutely. Preachy? No.

When religious and moral elements are a vital, integral and compelling part of a story, a writer can teach moral lessons without ever winding up with the "preachiness" that so many readers dislike.

I think we'd all love to see a diverse LDS market where LDS Dickens and Dostoevskys are thriving alongside LDS thrillers, romances, sci fi, etc. Different readers enjoy different types of books and we'd like to have something to offer every reader.

Best of luck on your book, tjackson! Keep us posted!

At 8/04/2006 1:00 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Most of what I want to say has already been said, but since I made the Harlequin comment, I figured I ought to respond.

In my comments I was refering not to the ultimate goal of LDS Fiction, but to a simple question: what is the LDS market doing to combat destructive modern media. My point about Harlequin romance novels applies equally as well to the examples you gave: No one, whose main reading material is Harlequin Romance, is going to switch over to reading Tolstoy or Hugo. What the books offer is completely different. My suggestion was that if we, as LDS people, produce works that can be a substitute for destructive mainstream works, that would be helpful. (And it would grow the LDS market.)

The scenario, as I see it, is this: someone might enjoy Harlequin novels, but be uncomfortable with the smut. So, instead of reading that, they move over to a fluffy LDS romance -- basically, a good romance without the sex. From there the reader can move toward better and better books.

To imagine that John Q. Public, who loves Clive Cussler, would dive headfirst into an LDS Les Miserables were it presented to him, is absurd.

I heartily endorse high LDS literature. I would love to read it. I fully expect to see more and more as LDS writers get better and better -- and I'm sure there's a market for it. I'm just also sure there's a market for good clean genre fiction.

(As for complaints with 'preachy' books, I think it would be better explained as 'didactic'. I love books with deep rich themes -- yes, even books that specifically mention God. But I get annoyed with books that present themselves as something and deliver something else. Examples: a crime novel about a murder investigation, that pauses near the end for a ten page lesson on Faith. Or, a historical romance, that includes a Joseph Smith sermon which affects nothing in the book except to tack on an LDS moral.) (I guess, then, my complaint is not with 'preachy' or 'didactic' novels, but with poorly-written ones.) :)

At 8/04/2006 7:18 PM, Blogger tjackson said...

Thanks for all the responses to my e-mail. I appreciate all of your comments and I do agree that books should be entertaining. I am not saying that they shouldn't. What I am saying is that writers should not discourage other writers from including content in their works that will teach others a lesson.

I also think that a book can be entertaining and teach at the same time. In fact, those are the ones that I personally enjoy the most. For example, J.R. Tolkien is one of my favorite authors. His work is very entertaining, but it also has a point besides just the entertainment. C.S. Lewis is another writer who is highly entertaining, but has a moral to his story. I learned a lot from both of these writers. But some could considered them to be "preachy."

I'm not saying that every work has to have a moral to it or a lesson. What I am saying is that we should not discourage others from putting that kind of content into their works.

I really appreciate the writings that you authors have done. It takes a lot of talent and courage to create a book and get it published. I don't want anyone to think I am criticizing their works, because they are not trying to write like Tolstoy or Hugo. I enjoy a good mystery as much as the next person. I am just saying that some of the previous comments made me think that there are LDS writers who do not believe other writers should be teaching within their works, and I disagree with that. If that isn't what you meant to say, then I am sorry I misinterpreted it, and I am glad to hear that you all agree that it's okay to have a book that teaches someone to be a better person.


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