Journey is the first book of the groundbreaking trilogy If Where You’re Going Isn’t Home, the story of a boy growing up Mormon in America with a dream to play jazz trumpet. It is the recipient of a coveted ForeWord Clarion Five Star Review.
It begins in 1956. Young Shake Tauffler hears a line of music on the radio of a cattle truck that changes his life forever. The music is jazz. The instrument is a trumpet. His family is moving one last time – from a southern Utah ranch to a town outside Salt Lake – on his father’s quest to bring his family from Switzerland to the heartland of the Mormon church. In two months, when Shake turns twelve, he’ll join his buddies on a shared journey through the ranks of his father’s take-no-prisoners religion. At the same time, armed with a used trumpet and his bike, he’ll start another journey, on his own, to a place whose high priests aren’t his father’s friends but the Negro greats of jazz, men he’s been taught to believe are cursed but from whose music he learns everything he dreams of being.
Shaded with Huck Finn and James Dean, Shake Tauffler is an American kid we all recognize, a kid who responds to bigotry, abuse, repression, hypocrisy, and death with courage, humor, heartbreak, often pain, and always wonder. His rites of passage are keenly drawn and vividly familiar, his dream to play jazz shared by most any musician. But his ten-year story of growing up Mormon in America takes us to an altogether different place. Journey is the first book of the trilogy If Where You’re Going Isn’t Home, an odyssey meant for those of us who long to hunker down and lose ourselves in a big American story, one whose narrative canvas takes us from Switzerland to a southern Utah ranch, to Salt Lake and its outskirts towns, into the secret holy places of the Mormon Church, across the landscapes of Nevada, California, Las Vegas, Kentucky, Austria, the Mojave Desert. Lyrical, rowdy, unflinching, Journey follows Shake across the first four years of his search for the clarity and flight of a trumpet line to lift him like a steel bird out from under the iron sky of his faith and guide him to his own sexual, musical, and moral consciousness. It is a search that resolves – for now – in startling and extraordinary tenderness.