by Rebecca Musser

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Review

Written by an ex-member of the fundamentalist church of latter day saints (FLDS), Rebecca Musser was at one point the nineteenth wife of the group's then-prophet (he went on to have over forty wives). She describes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, especially of young girls, some of whom were married off to eighty-year-old men when they were only 12. She describes the amount of control a very small group of elites within the religion had over the rest of the community, convincing them to sign over property, wages, and human beings to the church, all in the name of "heavenly father." Musser finally (at the age of 27) fled this lifestyle, after being threatened with the prospect of forced remarriage (after her 80-year-old husband died). After escaping, she ended up as a key witness and informant in the trials against leaders of the FLDS, including Warren Jeffs.

One of the main things that stuck out to me while reading this book was how much the HBO series Big Love closely follows documented events in the FLDS. I had always assumed that the creators of Big Love heavily dramatized and fictionalized much of the show--which I'm sure they did--but there was quite a bit Musser describes in this memoir that I recognized from watching the show.

Overall, this book paints a terrifying picture of the FLDS as a religion with little respect for women, children, and individual agency and freedom. I'm glad that Musser managed to escape.

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