The Conversion of Jeff Williams
by DOUGLAS THAYER
Paperback. 238 Pages. / 1-56085-178-3/
BEST NOVEL AWARD, ASSOCIATION FOR MORMON LETTERS
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 Williams 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 Thayer teaches English at Brigham Young University, where he has served as director of composition, chair of creativewriting, associate department chair, and associate dean. He has received various awards for his fiction, including the Karl G. Maeser Creative Arts Award. He is the author of the novel, Summer Fire and two collections of short stories, Mr. Wahlquist in Yellowstone and Under the Cottonwoods and Other Mormon Stories, and has been published in the Colorado Quarterly, Dialogue, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. He and his wife—in her last year of law school—have two children currently on LDS missions.