“God gave all the gift of Paul
So listen to his will.
The price of cheese may rise and dip,
But Paul is with us still.”
That should give you just a taste of what you’re in for with this series.
My brother was obsessed with audiobooks growing up, so when we randomly found All is Swell: Trust in Thelma’s Way among our parents’ audiobook collection, we knew we had to listen to it. And it didn’t take long for us to fall in love with the story, with the characters, and most of all, with Thelma’s Way. To this day, we can quote various parts of the first book since we listened to it over and over and over again. It wasn’t until years later that we discovered there were more books and we heartily devoured those as well.
The Trust Williams Trilogy follows Trust Williams as he serves a Mormon mission in Thelma’s Way, Tennessee, and then how his life is forever changed by the relationships he develops there. It’s a ridiculous series and I love it.
It has a lot of pros:
- HILARIOUS - The situations Trust encounters are absolutely ridiculous and wonderful. Most of the things that happen are quirky and funny social situations, but a few here and there are more strange - such as the plot being driven by people’s food storage going awry. It’s funny and strange and light-hearted - and so much fun.
- WELL-WRITTEN - While Smith isn’t the GREATEST AUTHOR TO WALK THE EARTH, his books are hilariously written and Trust narrates with a distinct voice. Often, the funnier part of the books are the way they’re being told rather than the story itself. Sometimes, when I try to tell someone part of this plot, I get stuck being the way I’m telling it doesn’t sell the story nearly as well as Smith’s telling of it.
- MEMORABLE CHARACTERS - These are some of the strangest characters I’ve ever met. There’s apostate Paul (who wrote the rhyme I began this with), the wonderful and strange Brother Heck, Trust’s various mission companions, Neal the villain, Trust’s (sometimes) well-meaning parents, and the lovely and elusive Grace Heck. They’re a wonderful mix of heart-warming, strange, and funny that work well and build the world Trust lives in.
And the cons:
- FLUFFY - I wouldn’t call this a deep read by any means. They’re light, they’re fun, and they’re silly. These aren’t the sort of books that will make you stay all night wondering about the mysteries of the universe. This is both a pro and a con - depending on your mood.
- WRITTEN FOR A VERY SPECIFIC DEMOGRAPHIC - I love Smith’s books, but all of them are written for Mormons and about Mormons. For me, this works just fine. It does make it difficult when I want to suggest them to people who aren’t Mormon and probably won’t get some of the jokes and probably won’t care about some of the other ones.
If you’re a Mormon looking for a unique, memorable, and light read, this series is excellent. If you’re anyone looking for a light read and you have a Mormon nearby to explain a few things to do, I would also highly recommend these books. They’re funny and quick and very worth the time.Note: The first two books in the Trust Williams Trilogy have been combined and resold as Bitten, which is almost always being sold at Deseret Book.