This book is written by T.C. Christensen, who wrote and produces the movie, and Jolene S. Allphin who authored “Tell my Story Too” and was historical consultant for the movie. It is published by Deseret Book, 2012. It provides more detail on the scenes in the movie. I previously reviewed the movie, which I must admit has a more profound effect, but the book likewise offers several good insights.
One of my complaints was the number “seventeen.” Why call your movie 17 Miracles unless you are consigning yourself to 17 miracles. Christensen explains that people find any number of different experiences they identify as miracles; from five to thirty. I think a better title may have been just “Miracles.” Then people wouldn’t be trying to count. My thought, with regards to the handcarts, is there is no way to put a number on the miracles, as they were so plentiful.
Allphin explains how the ship Horizon had to return to port for a time due to the mutiny of the crew aboard the ship. This is something I had not originally realized. She also talks about the premonitions of rescue at Red Buttes, and the announcement that all had to prepare to die made by Edward Martin. A fellow member of our high priest group mentioned he is descended from Jane Bitton Poole and there is a quote from her at this time. After the meeting she decided if she was going to die, she would do so clean and went to the river to wash herself. In returning there was a commotion. She found a brother crying. “She asked him what was wrong. He answered, ‘Aye lassie, we’re saved! We’re saved!’ Jane replied, ‘Then what in the world are you cryin’ for.’” She also talks about the Blue-Winged Angel who came to save them.
Angels were plentiful on that trip, but were not always the heavenly kind. There was heavenly intervention as mentioned by Francis Webster and others. The rescuers were asked if they were angels. And there were times when handcart company members served as angels to each other.
It is interesting how they portrayed “Last Crossing” rather than the crossing at the Sweetwater. I know the pioneers were much affected by this crossing. The movie portrays how this crossing lead to the death of George Padley.
Christensen concludes the book with this line. “…What the surviving record reveals clearly is that those who participated in that epic journey were driven by a faith, diligence, and courage that compel our admiration.” While Allphin concludes, “Many faithful individuals lost limbs and loved ones to the cold, but they recorded strong testimonies of their continuing devotion to God and His Church.”