On Your Own: A Young Adult’s Guide to Making Smart Decisions, CFI: Springville, Utah, 2009.
By Shawn D. Moon, with foreword by Sean Covey
Reviewed by Breck England

Is there a tougher time than those young adult years, so fraught with life-altering choices?

“What should I study in school?  Should I go on a mission? Should I really marry him?

With so many books aimed at LDS teens to prepare them for making life choices, it’s about time we had a practical, Gospel-centered guide for young singles who are actually in the middle of making them.

Now Shawn Moon, a former  singles ward bishop, has provided one.  After counseling hundreds of young Latter-day Saints who are wrestling with the most important decisions of their lives, Shawn has written a concise guide to succeeding in those tumultuous years.

It’s not just his own wisdom.  Throughout the book, we hear the voices of successful young people Shawn has interviewed, as well as the voices of prophets and professionals with targeted advice on key challenges from how to gain a testimony to how to manage a credit card.

As a bishop who’s experienced the “audible groans, eye-rolling, and jokes” whenever the subject of marriage comes up, Shawn raises questions like “how do you decide whom to marry?” and “how do you make a marriage work?”  His answers are not the usual platitudes.  There’s a key insight from the Doctrine and Covenants about “humility, diligence, and the prayer of faith” that will do more to guide a young Latter-day Saint in this decision than all the dating advice you’ve ever heard.

My only quibble with the book is that it subordinates education to the pursuit of a career.  Higher education is seen as a means to getting a job rather than as an intrinsically important stage in the pursuit of intelligence-the glory of God.  Still, the book redeems itself in recognizing that knowledge, poetry, beauty, and love are “what we stay alive for.”

On Your Own consistently challenges young singles to look beyond these few tumultuous years to the eternities. Shawn plainly lays out the process of perfection for which young adulthood is such a crossroads, explaining how to bring “the power of the Atonement of Christ into our lives.”

The book ends with a powerful story of how Shawn and his family “happened” to be in a position to save another family from death by drowning. As a parable of the Savior’s mercy, it reminds us that in all of our struggles to make the right choices, there is a loving agency guiding us. 

On Your Own is an invaluable guide to navigating the exciting but hazardous waters of young adulthood that should be in the library of every Latter-day Saint family.

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