The Polygamist’s Daughter by Anna LeBaron, Leslie Wilson
Published March 21, 2017 by Tyndale House Publishers
Genres Non Fiction, Memoir, Cult, Christian
“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.
This book was both memorizing and haunting at the same time. Anna LeBaron is the daughter of the notorious polygamist Ervil LeBaron and spent a good part of her childhood living a fairly transient lifestyle. She starts the memoir at the beginning of her memory as a child and recounts stories of FBI raids, moving in the middle of the night on a regular basis and leaving everything behind and being abandoned in Mexico with several siblings in another cult members care for almost a year. Anna does a pretty good job telling just her story without writing a huge amount regarding her father and the actions of his cult members. I read a brief article on the cult and Ervil LeBaron before reading this book, bu otherwise didn’t know a great deal about it.
At times, the book is difficult to read and I had a hard time comprehending how a mother or father could treat their children like Anna and her siblings were treated. The book is told in a chronological order, starting during her early childhood and into her teenage years, when she decided to leave the cult and the family she knew. Her story follows her through her high school years at a private Christian school, her years in college and into adulthood. Although she does write about the horrific events that take place over the course of her life, she does stick to telling her own story and doesn’t stray too far into the details of her very large family tree. The last part of the book focuses on Anna once she is married and has her own children, as well as her harrowing journey through counseling to help her heal from the all of the trauma throughout her life. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. Although parts are difficult to read, the ending shows what a beautiful life Anna ended up creating for herself and her family and how she also reconnected with many of her estranged family members from her extensive family tree.
Thank you to the publisher, Tyndale House Publishers, for sending me a complimentary advanced reading copy of this book.