“U-News & Views,” The University of Utah Alumni Association’s online newsletter – March 2009
U-News & Views, The University of Utah Alumni Association’s Online Newsletter—March 2009

The Reading Room Publications by Members of the U of U Community

Zoe Murdock (aka Susan Sudbury Murdock) BS’01 recently published her debut novel, Torn by God: A Family’s Struggle with Polygamy (H.O.T. Press, January 2009).

Inspired by true events, Torn by God is a riveting family drama that takes place in 1959 in a small Mormon town in Utah. It chronicles the devastation brought upon the Sterling family when the father has a vision that leads him to become involved with a local polygamist group run by a self-serving fundamentalist named Brother Reuben. Under the influence of this group, the father comes to believe that the Mormon Church never should have rescinded polygamy and that it is something God demands of him.

Twelve-year-old Beth watches helplessly as her father becomes increasingly involved with the polygamists and her mother sinks into depression and illness. Beth herself is not safe from Brother Reuben and his sexually suggestive remarks. When her father leaves home to help the polygamists build a church, the family is cast off by the mainstream Mormon community. It is up to Beth to take care of her sick mother and her little brother.

FictionWeek says: “This novel does more than tell one family’s tragic story; it explores the controversial association between mainstream Mormons and fundamentalist polygamous offshoot groups such as those led by Warren Jeffs. The book is hard to put down once you start reading it. At once chilling and informative, it exposes the destructive power of fundamentalist religious indoctrination and control. This novel is sure to spark lively discussions, and maybe more than a little controversy.”

Murdock writes on her Web site, www.zoemurdock.com/, that she wrote Torn By God “to try to understand what happened between my parents that so disturbed my mother that she died young and sad when I was only 25…. I can’t remember exactly what happened, only that I’d find my mother in the bathroom, with a towel over her head, crying. And I remember her telling my father, ‘If there’s polygamy in heaven, I don’t want to go there.’

“To write the story, I had to take myself back to the scene of the crime, back to when I was 12 or so, and see if I could look behind the closed doors and the hushed words, and write about what must have happened and why. What I learned broke my heart. But the tears I cried weren’t just for my mother; it was for all of us, including my father.”


Kathi Oram Peterson BA’00 has published the young adult novel The Forgotten Warrior (Covenant Communications, January 2009).

The Forgotten Warrior is a time-travel story that follows a young woman sent back to Book of Mormon times in the ancient Americas, where she fights alongside the legendary Captain Helaman and his 2,000 stripling warriors.

Sixteen-year-old Sydney Morgan is no wimp. A black belt in karate, her defensive moves help keep her tough, even when her mother is diagnosed with cancer and her long-lost father shows up to play nice guy. But when an unexpected gift transports her through space and time to the land of Zarahemla, Syd just might be in over her head. Accused of being a spy, she has to prove she’s no threat to the locals—including Helaman himself. As war quickly approaches, Helaman calls on Syd to help his stripling warriors prepare to fight. Torn between concern for her family and for her new friends, Syd musters her wits, strength, and faith to face the coming battle—even as her feelings for Chief Warrior Tarik put her heart on the line.

Kathi Oram Peterson was born in the small town of Rigby, Idaho. Since childhood, she has loved reading and writing stories. After winning the Heart of the West (1994) and Golden Pen (1995) contests, she put her writing on hold to finish her English degree. Upon graduation, she worked for a curriculum publisher writing and editing concept and biography books for children. She now devotes her time to writing inspirational fiction and nonfiction. Her previous publications include the nonfiction children’s activity books The Kids Book of World War I and They Came from Around the World: A Nation of Immigrants and the Christmas story An Angel on Main Street, based on her childhood in 1950s Rigby.

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