Tolley takes her time setting the stage for Ishmael and his family to follow Lehi out of Jerusalem. She intertwines the families so that it seems quite natural for Ishmael to take his young daughters into the wilderness after Lehi and his boys, and through a series of events and choices, the main character, Hannah, winds up married to Lemuel. Though I felt like Lemuel was just the leftover pickins, Lehi and Ishmael claim to have chosen her specifically for him in the hopes that with her strong spirit and testimony she might encourage him toward righteousness.
I really liked Tolley's portrayal of Lemuel because he could be led toward righteousness. But he could also be swayed toward wickedness, and I think this is what makes him the most interesting character in the story and the most like us. Hannah is dealt a complex set of circumstances but doesn't seem to have the capacity to navigate them effectively--like, she's not sneaky enough. And yet, if she could compromise with Lemuel, she wouldn't be a worthy heroine. She is constantly torn between being a good wife (trying to understand what a good wife even means for a girl in her circumstances) and being a good follower of God.
Daughter of Ishmael really pulled on my emotions and made me ponder the story of Lehi's exodus from Jerusalem, ultimately leaving me to reflect on my own testimony and faith. I was thinking about it long after I turned the last page. I highly recommend Daughter of Ishmael to readers of historical LDS fiction who enjoy conflicts that center around faith.
You can find a copy of Daughter of Ishmael online or at your local LDS Bookstore.