Riding in the Shadows of Saints
A Woman's Story of Motorcycling the Mormon Trail
By Jana Richman
(Three Rivers Press, Paperback, 9780307338570, 320pp.)
Publication Date: July 25, 2006
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Searching for Faith, Family, and Inner Peace on the Back of a Motorcycle
Between 1846 and 1866, about 50,000 Mormons traveled the Mormon trail, burying more than 6,000 of the faithful along the way. Four generations ago, seven of Jana Richman’s eight great-great grandmothers walked all or part of the 1,300-mile trek, from Nauvoo, Illinois, on the Mississippi River to Salt Lake City. Traveling on faith and little else, they endured unfathomable hardships—bitter cold, extreme heat, mud, icy river crossings, blizzards, buffalo stampedes, disease, hunger, and exhaustion—never stopping until they reached their promised land where they could be free to practice a religion that few outsiders understood and many violently condemned.
One hundred and fifty years later, Jana Richman packs maps and a laptop computer on the back of a motorcycle and follows the route of her ancestors, searching for the peace and faith the women before her carried with so much confidence. Jana also searches for a clearer understanding of how her devoutly Mormon mother is able to reconcile an independent spirit and enormous inner strength with her intense belief in a patriarchal institution.
Riding into the nation’s heartland, visiting graveyards, chatting with missionaries, and soaking in the rituals of the faith she so casually shrugged off as a teenager, Richman begins to unravel her family’s mysteries and confront her own long-held prejudices about the Mormon Church.
Jana Richman recently left Tucson and now lives in Salt Lake City.
“Openhearted and uncommonly balanced.” —Entertainment Weekly
“An extraordinary story . . . Like all great memoirs, Riding in the Shadows of Saints engages the heart while delighting the mind.” —Fenton Johnson, author of Keeping Faith
“Jana Richman understands that we can never escape our connections to our ancestors, and neither would we want to Her story serves as an inspiration to us all.” —Dawn Prince-Hughes, author of Songs of the Gorilla Nation