Review of ALMA by H.B. Moore
by Julie Coulter Bellon
H.B. Moore’s writing fascinates me. I know the outcome of her stories of the Book of Mormon, Abinadi, and Alma, yet I still keep turning pages, anxious to see the journey she takes her readers on. She is a skilled writer and knows her subject matter well. One of the things I like best about her books is the careful research she has done using some of the work of leading Book of Mormon scholars. Her chapter notes are almost as interesting as the story and the fine details she provides make the characters come to life. It’s easy to imagine the time period and the people within the pages of her books because she has included what we do know and made educated guesses to flesh out what we don’t. Of course, her books are works of fiction, but I think the added details and research have made my own scripture study more rich and helped me want to do more of my own research.
Her books also provide a fresh perspective on scripture stories that we are familiar with. For example, in Abinadi, Moore puts forward the idea that Abinadi was not an old man as depicted in some artwork, but that perhaps he was a young man, with a family and everything to lose if he stands by his testimony. There is no evidence to tell us how old Abinadi really was at the time of his martyrdom, and I think the idea that perhaps he was young made my thoughts about his testimony more poignant and stirring somehow.
That’s something else I enjoy about Moore’s work---it’s not just a fluffy read. She draws you into the story, makes you really think about what you are reading, but gives you such compelling ideas, plotlines, and characters that make it impossible to not enjoy the journey she’s taking you on. It’s a fine balance that Moore handles very well.
Her new book, ALMA, does not disappoint in this area either. There were several places that made me stop and think about this man who was so pivotal in the Book of Mormon, especially his transformation from a priest of King Noah’s to a man of God. Moore provides such an intricate journey for him as a man who feels such deep regret and sorrow for his actions, but his true test of manhood comes as he tries to turn his life to Christ and follow what his heart knows to be right. It is such a wonderful gift to be able to weave a story around someone that is doing what we are all doing---trying to reconcile his life to God---and Moore brings that story home in spades. She makes it personal, she allows her readers to experience it without beating us over the head with it, and that’s what makes her writing truly great.
Moore’s books have plenty of material in them that could be used for discussions on gospel principles and how they can apply to real-life situations, but she is not preachy, which I appreciate. Her characters feel like people we can relate to, and their decisions, good or bad, provide avenues to explore on what we would do if we were in their shoes and facing the tests of faith that they do. Since each person will have their own perspective and life experience, Moore’s books connect us to the characters, but give us the opportunity to explore our feelings on the matter, without telling us how to feel. I’m sort of gushing here, but she really does have a great talent for writing on a topic that is filled with a lot of feeling for most people.
ALMA is available now in bookstores and I highly recommend it. I’ve admired Moore’s writing for some time now and she never lets me down. ALMA is a book that you will be thinking about long after you’ve turned the final page. I’ve included the backliner below.
King Noah is thundering with rage. On Amulon’s watch, the former high priest Alma disappeared from the city of Nephi, and every night more believers manage to escape. The king threatens certain punishment unless Amulon recaptures Alma—a seemingly impossible task.
But Amulon has a plan. An equally valuable prisoner is at his fingertips: Noah’s wife, Maia, whose newfound faith means bitter humiliation for the king and an opportunity for Amulon to seize power.
Amulon’s disavowed daughter Raquel is making plans of her own. Alma and his followers are building a colony by the waters of Mormon, and she’s determined to begin a new life there despite the deep grief she suffers daily as Abinadi’s widow.
Abinadi’s watchful brother Helam deems the journey to Mormon too risky, but when Lamanites plunder and burn the settlement, Raquel has no choice but to flee with her young son.
Drama and danger escalate as Alma the Elder organizes the Lord’s church and baptizes its members, bringing an outpouring of divine grace and power. But even as they rejoice, the believers have profound and perilous trials to face, from the outward threat of Amulon’s treachery to the inward threat of pride and disobedience.
With poignant emotion, gripping suspense, and rich inspiration, this new epic story from H.B. Moore vividly brings the Book of Mormon to life.