Free ARC provided by Flatiron Press via Edelweiss
in exchange for my honest review.
“I slowly walked toward my mother’s grave.
Picked up a large handful of gravel and rolled the hot pieces of stone and sand in my hand, thinking about the place…”
Ruth Wariner blew me away with this captivating memoir. I started it one night, late, with the thought of reading a few pages to get the flavor of the story and found myself reading until I just couldn’t stay awake any longer.
What immediately struck me was the dire poverty as compared to other polygamist enclaves I was aware existed. I just couldn’t wrap my head around her mother; her deeply entrenched belief that husband was a prophet and her need to raise her children in such squalor. I would love to have been inside the minds of these sister wives.
Rhetorical questions keep popping into my mind one after another. What kind of moral example does a parent send to their children when they illegally leach social assistance from the US as a means of survival? How can anyone consider this a religious lifestyle; overlooking sexual predators, murder, malnutrition et al? What drives a man to yearn more and more wives and more and more children that they simply ignore or abuse?
The story is made more powerful as the narration begins when Ruthie is five years old. The horrors and dangers she must overcome are almost unimaginable and made more so as viewed from a young child’s perspective; especially a child as perceptive and engaging as Ruth. As we listen to Ruthie’s story, as she ages, it becomes unbearable to witness the adult community immune to the needs of these children.
I ask myself, when given the opportunity several times to make her children’s lives more comfortable and safe, why does Ruth’s mother return the family to the horrors of Colonia LeBaron?
Ruth packs more than a lifetime of emotion and strength of character in this amazing memoir.
And most importantly, we are asked to question our definitions of religion, trust, love, happiness, loyalty, family tradition, and more. This book will have you thinking about a lot of things for a very long time.
Highly recommended. This brilliant work is a book club must read.