One woman's search for community and connections in Utah.
By moving from bustling California to a small town in Utah, Stephens hoped she and her husband would learn to love a place they could call home. In this literary debut, she describes how buying an old farmhouse, with its inherent history of previous owners, was just the first step in settling in. Visiting rodeos, raising chickens, learning to ride a horse, watching their Mormon neighbors attend church and family gatherings—all aided Stephens in her quest. She developed a keen love of the desolate landscape and mountains surrounding their homestead but worried that encroaching housing developments would alter her perception of time and place. Despite her feelings for this place, her husband was less satisfied, and both struggled to find work to support their new child. Stephens' lyric, visually detailed prose will remind readers that building a home can take more than just time; it takes a sense of belonging, of roots that stretch deep below the topsoil. "I do not think the locals are cute and a charming part of the scenery,” she writes. “I think they carry within them something magic, as do, it turns out, people everywhere who have stayed still in one place long enough to accrue this grace: a deep sense of place that I wish I could beg, barter, or steal off of them." As the seasons stretched into a few years, Stephens still was not content. In the end, she moved on, in search of another spot in another small town where she could settle down, set some roots and make a house a home.
A stimulating search for self and place set against the vast backdrop of the American West.