Ruth Wariner's story is about her childhood growing up in a polygamist colony just south of the U.S. border in LeBaron, Mexico. After her father is brutally murdered, her mother remarries a man named Lane, becoming his second wife. Lane is a horrible man who neglects and abuses his wives and children. Ruth, the 4th child of her mother, describes her early life in this sad yet inspiring memoir.
This story was so compelling to me. I don't know why I have this attraction to cults like Scientology and like the polygamist Mormon doomsday religion explained in this book. It fascinates me to hear about others' lives in highly religious communities. The audio version was read by Ruth Wariner herself, which made it all the better to listen to.
This book is filled with shock. The living conditions described are atrocious. No electricity, no running water, and she describes her house as constantly reeking of rodent droppings. There was never enough food and lack of nutrition is believed to be the cause of several of her siblings being some degree of special needs.
Then there is Ruth's mother, Kathy. Where do I begin with her? She was a woman who wholeheartedly believed in her religion. Eventually she birthed 10 children and, being a polygamist, she was basically a single mother. Lane was no help what so ever- gone for long periods of time working odd jobs and spending time with his other wives left Kathy and her kids struggling to make it through the day.
There were times in this story where I admired Kathy taking care of so many little ones, several of them in need of serious medical care, and one child even becoming a danger to others. I don't know how her mother did it. Since they were technically American citizens (though they lived in Mexico) Kathy and her kids would cross the border to collect food stamps and welfare/disability checks monthly, hoping to make it stretch until the next benefit allotment.
Then there were times I absolutely hated Kathy. The horrors she put her kids through. Live electric wires throughout the house and yard posed an electrocution risk. There were no curtains on the windows, the floor throughout the house nothing but cold, hard concrete. There was rarely enough food. Ruth seemed to be the most responsible person in the entire family, caring for her siblings and trying her best to get through a bad situation . Sexual abuse at the hands of Kathy's husband Lane, Ruth's stepfather, with Kathy knowing about it all yet telling Ruth to forgive and forget. It is such a horrific story one would be inclined to believe it's fiction. How Ruth and her siblings made it through childhood and came out strong adults is amazing.
This story is heart wrenching and sad. It is never easy to read about children living in poverty and being abused. Ruth tells of her childhood in an easy to follow manor, and I found myself eagerly following along, wanting to get to the part about how she managed to escape.
I cannot imagine living the childhood that Ruth did. I cannot fathom having a will to survive after enduring the hardships and abuse she went through at a young age. I find it inspiring that in spite of all her childhood troubles she came out alright. She survived. It literally made me smile at the end.
This book is so full of raw emotions. Happy to sad, scared to triumphant, anger to pure joy. You will not be disappointed with this memoir. It will make you believe in happy endings.
A 4 star read that everyone should experience!