Bound for Canaan
This meticulously researched novel is the second in a series chronicling the lives and spiritual struggles of two black Mormon pioneers, Elijah Abel and Jane Manning James. Both were free blacks converted to the Mormon faith by founder Joseph Smith. This installment follows the Mormon movement from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah, and covers a time period from 1839 to 1891.
Many of the Mormon families owned slaves, bringing them with them as they made the trek to Utah. While many were converts, and even though they did most of the hard, heavy work involved with moving to and building a new city, they were still unable to worship in the tabernacle due to their perceived unworthiness as descendants of Cain and Ham. Even Jane and Elijah were denied equal status regardless of their long service and personal connections to the founder. The end of the Civil War and resulting end to slavery did little to change this situation.
Young and Gray are to be commended for telling this story and for their efforts to present historically accurate details of the period. It is important to note the changes that have taken place within the Mormon faith and the country as a whole, especially with regards to racial equality. Each chapter ends, however, with extensive footnotes citing source material, clarifications, and other insightful information. While these notes are interesting and should be included, they interrupt the flow of the novel located as they are.