“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.
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.