“Beyond the Horizon” is the first novel by LDS author Judy C. Olson and is the story of the fictional family, the Madigans. We see life through the eyes of a man in the Madigan clan from the time of Joseph Smith to our current day, and catch not only a glimpse into the history of the time when they lived, but we see the importance of family and heritage. We also see the impact fathers have on sons, be it for good or for bad.
The first Madigan was Jed. He was twenty-four and not yet married, lives on the farm with his parents, and would like to build a cabin of his own and settle down. Two women have caught his eye, the impetuous Lizzie and the sweet and smart Cilly. Cilly’s a Mormon and she wants Jed to listen to the message, but he’s against it. When local mobs decide to burn Cilly’s cabin down, he helps them to escape, and realizes along the way that he doesn’t just love Cilly—he wants to learn more about her religion, too.
Their son was named Daniel, and he tells his story of seeking out his lost cattle and coming across a valley that was sacred to the Paiute who lived on the land. His cattle were up in the valley, but the Paiute wouldn’t let him trespass on the land. He made a deal with them that he would help protect that land from intruders until the end of his days, and the Paiute agreed not to kill him. A pretty good deal, I think . . .
Daniel’s son is next to tell his story. His name is T.J., and he has been given the care of the family ranch. Hollywood has come knocking and wants to film a western out by the sacred valley. T.J. is tempted to let them, but he remembers the promise his father made to the Indians and chooses instead to honor that commitment.
As we come down the line, we see how each of these men was tested and tried. They learned from their mistakes and sought to set things right for the next generation. Some did better than others, but they all did at least one thing right—they kept journals so their families would know who they were, and this becomes very important to one young boy who desperately wants to know where he comes from.
I enjoyed this book a lot. I did find it confusing that we didn’t know right off the bat how old the characters were as we began each segment—when we first met Jed, I thought he was about fifteen until a few pages in when we discover he’s twenty-five; that completely changes things right there. Aside from that small confusion, I found it a good read and recommend it. This book is a finalist for the Whitney Award.