Friday, April 26, 2013

Good and Cheap (Books)! Day 24

Little Liz swinging at the pinata.
Duck and cover!
So this evening I received a text from Gianna saying that she's lame and punking out on her blog post for the day. I was fulfilling my obligatory, "must be social once a quarter," group human interaction, this time in the form of a birthday dinner for a six year-old. Luckily most of the people in attendance already knew me and had low expectations, and I confess a slightly more tolerant attitude toward the kid...even if her parents didn't name her "Little Liz" as I suggested. I ask for so very little from my friends. I don't understand their resistance to brilliance in children's names. Anyway, my pick today is inspired by my frame of mind around the time that the Twinkle Toes shoes appeared.

Escape by Carolyn Jessop is one of those memoirs that you'll never forget. Jessop grew up within the FLDS, the extreme sect offshoot of the Mormon Church in which polygamy is sanctioned. Children growing up in this environment never know anything different than the restrictive communities governed by the church; they are taught to fear the rest of the world. When Carolyn turned eighteen, she married Merril Jessop, a man thirty-two years her senior and already wed to three women. They all lived in a large compound/house, and husbands in this world have absolute power. Merril Jessop was a close associate of the church's president, Warren Jeffs, who was later sent to prison for child sex abuse when he married teenage girls. In his own home, Merril was an emotional abuser who controlled Carolyn's every move, and in the course of her marriage they had eight children.

Carolyn is in the top left. Those are
her sister-wives and husband.
By 2003, Carolyn knew she wanted out. Leaving the FLDS was extremely difficult, though, and no woman had managed to leave the FLDS and keep her children with her. Carolyn refused to leave her kids behind. Escape is gripping reading. Carolyn is tough, resilient, desperate, and she comes across as genuine. The FLDS is creepy, terrifying, and dangerous. Carolyn Jessop's story electrifying, and all the more frightening because it isn't fiction.

(For another great book about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, check out Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven. Great read.)

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