Title: The Polygamist’s Daughter: A Memoir
Author: Anna LeBaron
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Copyright: March 21, 2017
Format: E-Book, 320 Pages, $9.02 [Amazon Paperback], $8.57 [Kindle], $14.95 [Audible], $9.52 [Barnes & Noble Paperback], $10.99 [Nook], $9.07 [Google Play], $9.99 [iBooks], $14.95 [iBooks Audiobooks]
My father had thirteen wives and more than fifty children . . .
This is the haunting memoir of Anna LeBaron, daughter of the notorious polygamist and murderer Ervil LeBaron. Ervil’s criminal activity kept Anna and her siblings constantly on the run from the FBI. Often starving, the children lived in a perpetual state of fear—and despite their numbers, Anna always felt alone. Would she ever find a place she truly belonged? Would she ever be anything other than the polygamist’s daughter?
Filled with murder, fear, and betrayal, The Polygamist’s Daughter is the harrowing, heart-wrenching story of a fatherless girl and her unwavering search for love, faith, and a place to call home.
Anna LeBaron’s The Polygamist’s Daughter is one of those books that grips you and refuses to let go. All throughout the story are the undeniable themes of child abuse, enslavement, religious zealotry, spousal abuse, and cult violence. These themes tend to go hand-in-hand with the firsthand accounts of former cultists.
In her personal coming-of-age memoir, Ms. LeBaron, who is the daughter of Mormon fundamentalist prophet Ervil LeBaron, recounts her difficult childhood and adolescence, her eventual progression into adulthood, and what it is like to be related to her infamous father. The Polygamist’s Daughter commences with descriptions of her early nomadic existence, inhabiting locales such as Colorado and Mexico. Throughout her childhood she lives with complete strangers who abuse her and force her to go door-to-door to sell things, working such long hours despite her young age. Unbeknownst to Anna, she has been promised (as a wife) to Rafael, the man in whose house she lives. Although only a child, he pays special attention to her which is creepy. The children of Ervil LeBaron are hidden away to escape the authorities and all strangers are regarded suspiciously.
Ms. LeBaron’s memoir is written in such vivid detail that I can recall a heartbreaking scene where Anna has a bleeding gash in her leg. The woman, a begrudging follower of Ervil who has been taking care of her and her siblings, forces Anna to walk to the store to pick up medication for her father because he has a headache. It is apparent that the needs and desires of women and children don’t rank very high in their religion. Between her horrendous treatment in Mexico and being forced to work long hours cleaning old appliances in a warehouse, to state that the author had a hellish childhood is an understatement. The scene where she met the children of Dan Jordan (Ervil LeBaron’s right-hand man) was infuriating to put it lightly. While his children lived in wealth and comfort, Anna and her siblings wore clothing from Goodwill and had to resort to dumpster diving just to survive.
When she enters into adolescence, Anna makes the brave decision to hide from her family and live with her sister, Lillian. Lillian and her husband, Mark take good care of Anna, even enrolling her in a Christian school where she begins to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. For much of her childhood and adolescence, the name of Jesus Christ wasn’t one that she heard often because the focus was on Ervil LeBaron, their modern-day prophet. So, when she begins her walk with Christ, it is a brand-new and rewarding experience for her.
From start to finish I was positively mesmerized by Ms. LeBaron’s memoir. First I would like to say how sad it is that people still live like this in this day and age. The story was both compelling and heartbreaking in so many ways. This is a beautifully woven memoir about a woman with an enduring spirit who withstood so much and who turned out to be an amazing person in the end.