Overall this was an excellent book that gives incite into the positives and horrifying negatives that can happen in a polygamist community. It is also about a young girl’s choice between family and herself; between freedom and slavery to her cult. Was it a fun read? No, it is a tough, emotionally wrenching read that will leave you sad and angry and all out drained. I recommend it for anyone with interest in this subject matter, or young adult readers. As an adult I found it fascinating but it is not something I will ever read again.
I’ve had this book on my to be read pile for a while. I find polygamist colonies interesting and had heard that this book gives a fair opinion of those family groups as part of the story. I will say this wasn’t necessarily a fun read, but it was well done and heart wrenching. Overall I found it interesting and it makes me wonder how “true to life” this story actually is; it is supposed to be a fictional account about a girl that escaped from a polygamist home.
13 year old Kyra lives in a colony of polygamists with her mother and plethora of siblings. Her mother is the third wife and her father alternates between wives. Then one day the Prophet issues a decree: Kyra will marry her father’s brother…who is her uncle and ancient, she will be wife number seven. Adding to the distress of marrying her uncle are the strict rules of her lifestyle, the books she sneaks in to read from the Mobile Library, her mother Sarah going through a very difficult pregnancy, and Kyra’s attraction to a boy her age who wants to Choose her as his one and only wife.
This is a very well written book; as times it is a bit unconventional in that there are short sentences that represent random thoughts flying out of Kyra’s head. However, the writing style was very appropriate to the book. It is an incredibly engaging book and will have you on the edge of your seat wondering if Kyra will try to escape and if she does, will she make it out alive.
It is also an intensely emotional book that will have you in tears and incredibly angry at parts. It is full of disturbing references to rape, incest, and beatings; although only the beatings are covered in full detail. There is a particular scene where Kyra’s 8 month old sister is submersed in ice water until she stops breathing, just because the 8 month old was crying at night and kept the neighbors awake…this was incredibly disturbing and made me angry at this book and at the fact that these things happen (not just in polygamist communities, but in general).
This book really stands out in that it also pictures the love that can exist in this type of community. All of Kyra’s mothers, siblings, and her father really work to have a loving household. They don’t argue a lot and work to make their home a happy one. When it is announced that Kyra will marry her uncle; her father actually goes to petition the Prophet to try and change his mind. This family of Kyra’s really does care about each other.
Williams does an excellent job of characterization too. Kyra is brave and you feel her heartbreak as she contemplates running away and leaving her ailing mother and loving sisters behind, you feel her excitement when she manages to smuggle a new book in to read. You also feel the hopelessness of her father as he tries to do right by his family; he is threatened to have his wives and children given to more disciplined fathers if he can’t bend Kyra to the Prophet’s will.
Does the book end well? Well I can’t give it away, but let’s say it ends realistically and abruptly. It left me wishing for just a couple more chapters expanding on Kyra’s decisions at the end.