Adventures in family-building: “The Book of Thompson” by David J. Larkin Jr.

What do you do when you’re a housewife raising four kids and you suspect your husband of cheating on you? If you’re also Mormon and it’s 1954, the answer is: have another kid! And then another…

The Book of Thompson by David J. Larkin Jr. tells the story of three generations of the Thompson family. The title comes from the charming Mormon tradition of writing books of your family’s history and distributing them to all your relatives. If you come from a Mormon family, you might have such a book sitting on your bookshelf, like the Thompsons. I have several myself.

Most of the story is told from the perspective of little Bobby who is the third kid in the Thompson family (or so he thinks). He’s naturally focused on childish adventures like building tracks for marbles and listening to records — at one point he embarks on an elaborate project to try to convert the Queen of England to Mormonism until his exasperated family gets tired of humoring him — but he can’t help but be affected by the family’s problems even if he doesn’t always understand.

Bobby has an especially close relationship with his mom, who’d come from a somewhat Mormon background, and who — after a terrible experience or two — got pulled back into the LDS fold just in time to make a truly awful marriage. As her family situation worsened, I was worried that she’d slowly start to give up, like the mom in Torn by God. But the mom in this story was a tough cookie and a smart one, and found a way to turn things around.

Mormonism plays a big role in the Thompson family’s conflicts, but the story didn’t give the impression that Mormonism was the source of their problems. If anything, the biggest problem was that at the time there was less opportunity to keep sex (which is not always entirely consensual) from leading to a kid, and then you have a huge new responsibility that changes your life and options completely.

The Book of Thompson is an entertaining story with lots of fun and surprises in addition to being a compelling family drama. Pick up a copy — it’s a great way to pass these rainy days of Spring!

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chanson

C. L. Hanson is the friendly American ExMormon atheist mom living in Switzerland! See "letters from a broad" and the novel ExMormon for further adventures!!

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