Review: The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron

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Synopsis:

“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.


Review:

I’m really disappointed to be starting this review by saying that if you’re interested in a dark and insightful book about polygamist mormon cults, then I definitely would not recommend this book. Yes, it’s morbid, but I was expecting something more shocking, but for me, this book was a little boring.

Considering the book is called “The Polygamist’s Daughter”, you would have thought there would be quite a strong focus on the polygamy side of the LeBaron Mormon cult, but there really wasn’t. Other than the mention of there being plenty of sister-wives for each man and then a billion siblings, it didn’t get into the nitty gritty of what that really meant for the women or the daughters.

Even though I was disappointed by detail when talking about the polygamist way of life, that family dynamic was actually the most interesting part of the book. Everything else was a dull minute-by-minute story of Anna’s daily life. It was like reading an adolescents diary at times, it really could have done with seme editing.

There was just too much detail about pointless things in this story that bulked out the book but made for dull reading. For example, there was an important scene where Anna finds out some tragic news about a family member and she recalls how she ‘went to the kitchen to get some tissue, but the tissue box was empty, so she had to go to the washroom and retrieve a flannel instead’. Yawn.

I’m not trying to undermine Anna’s traumatic upbringing, because it was clearly a terrible childhood, but if you’re going to write a book about it, and market it as ‘a shocking true story of murder, fear, and betrayal’, then make it that! It’s not as though she had to come up with a story, it was all true life stuff that happened directly to her. Yet the book was still disappointingly slow and nothingy. I’m sorry but I know I won’t remember anything about this story in a couple of months time.

As for the ending of the book, I agree with other readers who were annoyed by the religiousness of it all. It went from a book about Anna’s troubled existence, to a book where Anna was praising God as the saviour of her life. I’m not a religious person myself, so as soon as anyone starts preaching to me, I switch off.

Overall, I honestly wouldn’t recommend this book. Even if you’re not looking for a detailed look-in at a cult and are just in the mood for a poignant autobiography, there are better books out there. This could have done with a bit more editing and a lot less pointless detail.

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14 thoughts on “Review: The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron

  1. Your take on this sums up my feelings about it exactly! I felt bad even saying it because she had such a terrible life, but this was so plodding and dull and desperately needed better editing or input from the writer that was helping her! And it also upset me to see the turn again to religion towards the end…I feel like that comes up so often in cult or extremist survivor stories and it always disappoints me. Usually they’ve done something extraordinary to save themselves and yet they attribute everything to their new branch of religion. I can’t stand it! But I’m also not religious so anything of that kind sours me on a story right away. Great review of this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yes it was disappointing to see the strong religious influences at the end of the novel – I completely lost interest at that point and skimmed over the remaining page.
      Like you, I feel bad for talking negatively about the book because her experiences were clearly life-altering but it was just a very dull book!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I can totally agree with you there, and that what it seems like her life was in the end… but then maybe the word “shocking” shouldn’t have been used in the synopsis of the book! As that definitely leads you to believe one thing when you’re presented with another 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  2. From your review, it almost sounds like this was written by the author as a form of therapy, and then someone convinced her to publish it. I have no idea if this is the case or not, but that’s the impression I get. It’s still not an excuse for poor editing, though. Oh well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry to hear this wasn’t quite what you were hoping for. It is odd how members of cults often turn to more mainstream religion on leaving – I suppose it such a part of their lives that they can’t simply turn their backs on everything that has underpinned their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

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