Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome. –Birdee Pruitt from Hope Floats
I had a great childhood. It wasn’t Beaver Cleaver, but it was idyllic in the crazy, eccentric, lower middle class, country hick sort of way. I think back on family camping trips and Christmas cookie making with a homesick nostalgia that sometimes aches even now in my mid forties.
Anna Lebaron’s childhood, going on at roughly the same time but on the other side of the country, was nothing like mine. Quite frankly, there aren’t very many people in the world who could say they had a similar childhood. I can’t say no one, because as she begins her memoir, “At age nine, I had 49 siblings.” Anna was not alone in this world, but her childhood was far from safe and secure. Growing up the daughter of notorious polygamist Ervil LeBaron, she lived a life that was marked by regularly moving to avoid the authorities, often leaving behind her few possessions, and being reared by various family members that rarely included her own parents. In her memoir, Anna shares about going hungry, being forced to work long hours at family owned businesses, and even being promised in marriage as a young child to an adult member of the cult.
As I read The Polygamist’s Daughter, I found myself drawn into this world of violence and twisted faith that I could not comprehend. Through each move and struggle Anna experienced, I found myself in shock and disbelief. I kept stopping to look something up on the Internet in order to learn more about her father, the cult, or the events mentioned in the book, such as the 4:00 murders.
Anna’s gripping story is far more than a tale about a broken childhood. Anna’s story is a tale of courage and faith. She tells of her escape from the polygamist cult and her coming to a true faith in Jesus Christ. She shares about her journey of healing and the hope we can all find in Christ.
Those of us who have experienced tragedy or loss, whether from childhood wounds or in our adulthood, will appreciate the hope that Anna offers. My favorite line from her book is, “But sorrow always accompanied the joy, inseparable twins at every event.” Recovering from the pain that life can bring often means that we live in a place where the joys and sorrows of life often collide. Anna allows us to walk with her on her own healing journey, and we can all find hope along the way.
I truly enjoyed reading this memoir. I read it more quickly than a typical book as it was difficult to put down. While not the most polished of writing, and a couple of times the timeline seemed a little disjointed, the story read like a suspense novel. I was engaged and emotionally drawn into the story from the start. Anna skillfully shares her story and invites us into her healing journey. I recommend this book to anyone who love stories of faith and courage.
The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron releases March 21st and is available for pre-order at http://annalebaron.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Tyndale.
I received an advanced reader’s copy for my honest review.