Book Review: The Book of Abish
Abish is one of the missionary heroes of The Book of Mormon and also one of only three women whose names are mentioned. Have you ever wanted to know more about her personality, her life, and how she ended up at the king’s court? This book is the story of Abish’s life. While it is fiction, I believe it can remind us that there’s so much more to Abish than what is written in The Book of Mormon.
The foreword says that Abish “plays an important ecclesiastical role that does not require the permission of any man.” It further states that the great message Abish brings is, “You are enough, and you don’t need Nephites, or kings, or fathers, or churches, or men, or anybody else to tell you this because you can trust your own spiritual experiences. And when the time is right, you can change your world.” I love these quotes and I feel that the story definitely speaks this message.
The Book of Abish begins with Abish’s birth and goes through her childhood and then part of her adult years. The story moves pretty fast and towards the end reaches the missionary act that we know of, with Abish rounding up the Lamanites and waking up the queen.
The first part of the story made me so sad. Abish goes through many unfair, difficult trials and certain people turn on her and her family. Reading this story made me think about what the world was probably like during that time. During Abish’s time, the world was a hard place to live in- a much different world than what we’re used to now. Some of the themes that show up in the story are poverty, riches to rags, infertility, deceit, and abuse.
I appreciated that the book was mostly about Abish, her perspective, her actions, and her character. Ammon shows up as well but only towards the end. He’s not the focus of the story. Also, one thing the book points out that’s different about Ammon and Abish, is that since Abish was a Lamanite, she knew the people. She knew the culture and the ways of the people. Ammon would only be there temporarily, but Abish would be with her people forever.
Author Mette Harrison wrote in the book’s afterword that she attempts “to prioritize a female story and not just a male story because I believe that even if the scriptures don’t tell that part of the story, it is there. Women are powerful and find ways to change the world no matter how their society looks on them” (174). Harrison is absolutely right.
I was very pleased with the ending of the book. It truly made up for all the awful things that happened to Abish and her family earlier in the story. I definitely recommend this book to those who love Abish from The Book of Mormon and who would like to explore more about what her life might have been like.