“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.
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: March 21st 2017
In The Polygamist’s Daughter Anna LeBaron details her life in a polygamist cult of the Mormon church. She describes herself as: “… memoirist, book launch expert, dynamic speaker and life coach, an avid reader, and mum to five grown children” but I see her as an enormously courageous and strong woman who endured atrocities that no-one should ever have to face. Her story is one of hope and encouragement.
When I first started reading this book I found it very depressing, so it delayed me in really getting started. I then made a point of continuing, and found it hard to put down. Whilst the story was very depressing there was something within it that drove me to continue reading to find out what transpired. I was wanting her life to improve so she could live without being cloaked in “… fear, chaos, and insecurity…” not helped by her mother’s extended absences and her being moved from one strange family to another. I was continually struck by the abject poverty to which Anna and her siblings were subjected through no fault of their own. I have seen documentaries about this extreme Mormon cult and how wives, who weren’t in favour, and their children, were so poorly treated, but to read a first-hand account caused me great sorrow and pain. I was also left with the thought that if this was the behaviour of a family in Australia Social Services would be stepping in extremely quickly to get the children to safer houses where they could be nurtured and cared for properly. It made me rethink whether we need much of what we think we do in order to survive. It was reaffirming to read that the non-extremist Mormons don’t acknowledge or recognise the polygamist branches of their faith, confirming a comment made to me many years ago by an ex-Mormon.
The brainwashing that went on in the cult was a very powerful tool to keep all members under control. Anna’s father (Ervil LeBaron) was in jail for murder, and if any other cult members were put in prison for killing people the explanation given by those on the outside was that they were being punished for doing God’s work. This reasoning leaves me asking which God are they worshipping as He is very different from my own experience of God, Who doesn’t. ask his followers to kill people to prove their allegiance to Him. Ironically, it was this same God who helped Anna heal, live and become free in the real sense of the word. It was wonderful to read that after all she went through, and the painful healing process she endured, she has come out of the experience a much happier and stronger person, when it could easily have gone the other way. I was glad that she was able to have something positive come out of her horrific experiences. I also admire the courage that it would have taken to write this book in the first place.
I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes from Tyndale House.
Recommend for: Adults who would like to get an idea of what life is like for those who live is such cults.