The Polygamist's Daughter by Anna LeBaron
"My father had more than fifty children."So begins the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. With her father wanted by the FBI for killing anyone who tried to leave his cult--a radical branch of Mormonism--Anna and her siblings were constantly on the run with the other sister-wives. Often starving and always desperate, the children lived in terror. Even though there were dozens of them together, Anna always felt alone.She escaped when she was thirteen . . . but the nightmare was far from over. A shocking true story of murder, fear, and betrayal, The Polygamist's Daughter is also the heart-cry of a fatherless girl and her search for love, faith, and a safe place to call home.
My thoughts -
I feel like my heart was broken and stitched back together during the reading of this book.
Polygamy has been much in the news in the past few years, with the popularity of the TV show Sisterwives, and the widely-anticipated raid and subsequent imprisonment of cult leader Warren Jeffs. Memoirs of life inside these religious groups have been popular over the past years, and I've read a bunch of them. (In fact, last year I read The Sound of Gravel, a harrowing memoir by Anna's cousin, also raised in the same polygamist cult.) But I don't think I've read one that felt so deeply personal, and yet so universally hopeful.
I always find it difficult to read stories that include child abuse, and this book has it over and over again. As a mom, I find it difficult to understand how the adults in young Anna's life could have allowed such treatment to continue. I think it's impossible to read LeBaron's story without having your eyes opened - how often do I miss women and children who need help? How often do I cross paths with someone who just needs one little act of kindness to change their life?
The Polygamist's Daughter reads like a CSI case on steroids, and yet it's completely true - abuse, kidnapping, murder, all these were part of LeBaron's experience. And yet the author's ultimate message is freedom - it's not a story of how bad her life was, or how sorry we should all feel for her. It's a story of redemption - of overcoming - of walking a hard road, and coming out the other side truly free.
This is a hard, brutal, beautiful story. Don't miss it. Highest of recommendations.
Finished - 12/18/16
Source - review copy from publisher (Tyndale House) - but I pre-ordered my own copy because it's that good!
MPAA rating - PG-13. This is not easy to read.
My rating - 5/5