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Warburton, "Just Shy of Paradise" (reviewed by Tristi Pinkston) Options · View
Posted: Monday, January 16, 2012 1:23:08 AM

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Title: Just Shy of Paradise
Author: Carole Thayne Warburton
Publisher: Walnut Springs
Genre: General Fiction
Year Published:2011
Number of Pages: 316
Binding: Paperback
ISBN10: n/a
ISBN13: 978-1-935217-91-6
Price: $17.95

Reviewed by Tristi Pinkston for the Association for Mormon Letters

Cache Valley in northern Utah is a beautiful place full of history and echoes of the past. Both sets of my grandparents lived there when I was growing up, and I loved going to see them. There's something about that area that speaks to me, not just because so many of my family members still live here, but because the place itself is special. It's hard to explain unless you've been there, but I've heard friends make the same comment.

"Just Shy of Paradise" captures some of that feel. The descriptions of the land and the beauty of nature show the author's deep love for her home, and help readers see it for themselves.

Lily doesn't quite fit in her own skin. Suffering from a crippling social phobia, she struggles to do the simplest things, like collecting her mail at the post office. She's seeking help, though, and she is making progress, although not as quickly as she would like. When she's out by the river on her property, she feels the most comfortable, the most like the person she wants to be.

One day when she goes to her beloved river, she discovers a trespasser on the land, fishing. Summoning up the courage to protect what's rightfully hers, she orders him to leave, and then is embarrassed when he later rescues her when she runs out of gas and is stranded at the side of the road.

Sky is proud of his mixed heritage. He's half Shoshone, half Scandinavian, and he loves to hear the stories of his Indian ancestors. In life, his father was very in touch with nature and spend hours in the great outdoors fishing, and crafted amazing fishing rods from bamboo. Sky wishes he had just one of those fishing poles as a remembrance of his father, and he would do anything for one. For now, Sky keeps his memories alive by fishing whenever he gets the chance, and he feels bad for trespassing on the pretty blonde's land.

Their lives are thrown together once again as Lily finds her grandpa's old fishing rod in the attic and decides to sell it. It turns out to be one of the rods Sky's father crafted, and he wants to buy it. When the rod is stolen from Lily's home, Sky is blamed for the theft, and age-old battles between the Indians and the white settlers rise to the surface.

I really enjoyed this novel. I learned a lot about the history of Cache Valley and the Shoshone Indians who lived in that area. I loved how the author wove history into her contemporary story and looked at it from different angles to present a multifaceted story. I also very much appreciated the unique story line, with a fishing pole at its center. I read a great deal, and I've come to the point where I feel like I've seen everything, but books like this reassure me that there are many wonderful stories left out there to tell, if the author is brave enough to step away from the formulas and try something new, as Warburton has so wonderfully done.
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