It All Started with Autumn Jones

by Jack Weyland

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When Nick Baxter signs up for a class from the infamous Dr. Thomas Penstock, all he wants is the "A" he needs to get into law school. What he isn't counting on is the outspoken girl in his class: Autumn Jones. When Autumn stands up on the first day of class and openly disagrees with Dr. Penstock, Nick is amazed, but also a little scared for her. Doesn't she know Penstock is the meanest, most narrow-minded professor on campus? He can't believe it when he actually convinces himself to stand up with Autumn and defend the beliefs they share.

Nick and Autumn begin studying together, preparing arguments for the discussions in Penstock's class. Autumn is like no one Nick has ever met, and as they spend more and more time together, he finds himself falling for her. There's just one major complication: Autumn doesn't feel the same way. Autumn and Nick make a great team, but she is writing to a missionary and doesn't want to let go of that relationship.

When Nick is able to help Autumn with a family crisis, he realizes she really is the girl he wants to spend the rest of his life with; but how can he compete with her perfect missionary? Will Autumn ever realize she and Nick could be more than just a good team?

The Story Behind It All Started with Autumn Jones (2010)
When I served in a BYU-Idaho stake, I often attended Sunday School classes on campus. One Sunday a young man related an experience that happened when he was a student in a large class in another university. He was the only member of the Church in class, and one day, before class started, someone asked him about the Church’s beliefs. He was in the process of answering the question to the entire class when the instructor of the class opened the classroom door and listened in to what was going on.

He started down the aisle and boldly announced “You want to know about the Mormon Church? I’ll tell you about the Mormon Church!”

I’m sure this young man expected the worst from the professor.

That got me thinking. I began to write dialogue involving two returned missionaries, Autumn Jones, and Nick Baxter in a class together in college near Chicago.

The professor’s name is Penstock. Fifteen minutes into his lecture, Penstock stated that anyone who believed in God was an idiot, Autumn stood up, “Dr. Penstock, with all due respect, I do not happen to agree with you.”

“And what do you have to sustain your position?” he asked.

She quoted from the Bible.

Penstock shouted, “I do not allow mumbo jumbo Bible passages to be read in this class!”

She shrugged and then began to read another passage.

Penstock raged, “Why are you still reading?”

She explains that what she just read is from the Book of Mormon.

He demands that she never read from either the Bible or the Book of Mormon in class.

She nods and begins to read another passage.

“Young ladies, your current enrollment in this class is in serious jeopardy!”

”But this is from the Doctrine and Covenants. It contains revelations from Jesus Christ to the prophet Joseph Smith.”

He rages, “Young woman, you are wasting the time of the rational students in this class!”

She says, “Let’s see if that’s true.” She asks the class, “Is there anyone here who will support me in my position that something other than random chance brought this would and everything in it into being?”

Nobody, including Nick, raised their hand. He needed an A in the class in order to be able to go to Harvard Law School and the word was out that if you want an A, don’t disagree.

A few minutes later, Nick notices Autumn has bowed her head and closed her eyes. He thinks, She’s probably praying for divine guidance. But she’s not going to get it here. Who in this class is ever going to give her any help?

And then a thought came into his mind. You need to help her.

And so, reluctantly, he raises his hand and proceeds to do that.

Penstock calls campus security to have them both arrested for disturbing the peace. Nick refers Penstock to the syllabus which says that free and open debate is encouraged in the class. Penstock backs off and Nick and Autumn make it through the first class. After class, they form a partnership to raise objections to Penstock’s arguments against principles of the Gospel.

Nick comes to admire Autumn a great deal. The only problem is that she is writing one of the elders from her mission she particularly admired for his dedication to the work, and is hoping they’ll become closer after he’s released from his mission.

Through their daily skirmishes with Penstock, Nick and Autumn become more effective defending gospel principles in an academic setting. They also begin to fall in love.

Finally, let’s go back to the professor who announced “You want to know about the Mormon Church? I’ll tell you about the Mormon Church!”

This is what he said to the class. “I know this for sure. Mormon mothers are truly amazing!”

But in “It All Started with Autumn Jones” I went for the worst case scenario. That’s what fiction writers do!

About the Author

Jack Weyland

Jack Weyland received a bachelor's degree from Montana State University and a Ph.D. from BYU. He teaches physics at Brigham Young University—Idaho, where he is also known for his saxophone playing and wry sense of humor. He and his wife, Sheryl, have five children and live in Rexburg, Idaho.

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Average rating:

(based upon 3 reviews)

Nice, quick read
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

I really enjoyed the book. It was quick and to the point but very Jack Weyland-esque. I would recommend it to any teenage girl.

fun and entertaining!
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

This is such a fun book to read. Jack Weyland is becoming a favorite of mine. I like how he writes about a real life situation that we all go through in standing up for what we believe in to our peers and sometimes our elders. This book is hard to put down once you get going. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys reading.

Great read!
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Jack Weyland has done it again! In this book designed for modern audiences, Jack details the difficulties we sometimes have in our society of sticking up for our beliefs. Although it can be difficult to stand up for our values in a world of degrading morals and festering evil, Autumn Jones shows that it is even more important than ever. The characters are easy to relate to and fall in love with. I would recommend this book to teens and young adults alike and anyone who needs a boost of confidence in sharing their beliefs with others.

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