Completion Date: July 21, 2011
Reason for Reading: Review Copy from Harper Collins Canada.
From a family that inspired 'Big Love's' story of Bill Henrickson and his three wives, this first-ever memoir of a polygamous family captures the extraordinary workings of a unique family dynamic, and argues for the acceptance of plural marriage as an alternative lifestyle.I think part of the reason I am struggling with reading near the end of the year this year is because I have been having a hard time all year figuring out what I wanted to be reading. A couple times this year I have emailed my very nice contact at Harper Collins and asked her to surprise me with 'different' books. This book met that criteria very nicely. I have to admit that I am a bit intrigued by this 'alternative lifestyle', but I was never really actively pursuing the subject matter. I have seen an episode here and there of Sister Wives, but that is about it. I had never even heard of this family before, but I was impressed they were brave enough to write about their life for the masses. I was curious about just what it was like to live in a Polygamous marriage. I am the sort of person that is very sceptical of the institution of marriage in the first place, so why not explore different ideas.
The reason I am finally reviewing this book all these many months later is because I am watching Big Love. I was curious and I figured why not see what the show is all about. We don't have the channel it aired on, but I had heard of it before over the years. I wanted to see their viewpoint on the subject. I am about halfway through the first season and it is an interesting show. I was just explaining to the guy I was watching it and he asked what it was about. The best way to describe it is to say that on the one hand it shows how 'normal' the family is living in the mainstream world. They deal with the same problems as everyone else. On the other hand, it shows just how crazy the cult-like lifestyle is for those that live on the compounds. The 'Prophet' in this show is married to a girl who is only 14 or 15. It's horrifying.
Anyway, that is what this book is about, too. Yes, these people are in a Polygamous marriage, but in the day-to-day they deal with the same sort of things that we do. It puts a face on something we generally only hear about on the news for horrifying reasons. That is what the show Sister Wives does, too. I have to admit that I have learned a lot. I think before these families started stepping into the limelight I thought they were all crazy. I still don't think I personally could live their lifestyle, but considering the disastrous results of marriage in this world who are we to say what is right or wrong?
I have my problems. I don't like how sexist it is. God apparently says it is all right for men to take on many wives, but not for women to take on many husbands. I refuse to believe in a god that is that limiting. I also have a problem with a god that says that marriage should be between a man and a wife or a man and many wives, but doesn't consider marriage between two men or two women moral. See, this is why I didn't want to review this book. I am too opinionated and I try to live that stuff off my blog, but I wouldn't be truthful if I left it out entirely.
Moving on. The book is about the Darger family. It is told from each of their viewpoints. It talks about their childhoods, their adulthood, and now their marriage. It is VERY personal. They really don't seem to hide anything. They are really so normal, though. They are in the marriage because they want to be, their children are not being married off at a young age, and they can leave if they ever decide that they don't want to live this way any more. They have to hide, though. This book has brought them full attention and could be very damaging, but they were brave enough to do it. I applaud them for that. It is just such an awkward situation. I don't know if it could ever be made legal because what they do in those compounds is NOT moral. I don't care what your religion tells you. That is not to say that ALL of them are bad, but there are obviously some problems. These children being married to these old men horrifies me. They are way too young to have any say in the matter.
It is very hard to think objectively. I am basically of two minds about this. I also believe that this is a very debatable subject. I want to make sure that everyone knows this is MY opinion and has hardly been about the book at all... I think the book is important, though. It made me think and while I am not going to rush out and live the lifestyle myself, I can appreciate that this works for the people in it. I also find it rather intriguing that Polygamy has existed forever and this is the first family that was brave enough to write a memoir about it. You shouldn't have to hide who you are.
Yep, so this was a jumbled mess of a review. I recommend the book. If you are curious, you should read it for yourself and make up your own mind.
Thanks to Harper Collins Canada for this interesting read!