Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife
by Irene Spencer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an amazingly heart breaking tale of a young girl who's upbringing led her to seek to become someone's second wife. She was a fourth generation polygamist, growing up all over Utah and Arizona. The Church of Latter Day Saints had long ago shunned the practice, so these "pligs" were left to fend on their own, making their own churches, following their own "prophets" (all of which insisted that the more wives you had, the better your chances of securing a place in heaven were).
As you can imagine, having many wives with even more children was an untenable situation. Growing up, Irene was at the lowest level of poverty, living off of the US Government welfare system, wearing clothing made of old flour sacks, and wondering where her next meal would come from. As only one wife was recognized as the legal wife, the rest of them were "single mothers" and able to collect benefits from the Government.
Irene's mother did eventually leave her father and take up the monogamous lifestyle so much of the rest of America considered normal, and begged Irene to marry a man that was not interested in multiple wives. But would Irene listen?
Every step of the way, as a reader, I was shouting out to Irene to make different choices. To me, raised in a traditional family, it seemed obvious that Irene was making the wrong choices, dropping out of school to "marry" her half-sister's husband and move down to Mexico.
Irene recounts her time living in Mexico, Nicaragua, Utah and Arizona, often with no electricity, no running water, and no food to feed her ever increasing family. In the end, her husband had 10 wives and over 50 children.
I could not put this book down, I can't recommend it enough!
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