Intriguing domestic particulars of a little-known way of life.

PREDATORS, PREY, AND OTHER KINFOLK

GROWING UP IN POLYGAMY

An unusual memoir from the daughter of Mormon fundamentalists who maintained the Principle of Plural Marriage long after the church officially abolished it.

“I am the only daughter of my father’s fourth plural wife, twenty-eighth of forty-eight children—a middle kid, you might say, with the middle kid’s propensity for identity crisis,” writes Solomon. Polygamy was illegal, of course; in 1945, four years before the author was born, her father stood trial and went to prison, where he served seven months of a five-year sentence. Throughout Solomon’s childhood, the family was forced to scatter to various states and across the border into Mexico. (Typically, a sympathetic police officer would alert them to an impending raid.) Solomon writes of great loneliness; when the family was separated, months would go by without a visit from her father. And while the author’s own full-siblings and mother survived, some of her half-siblings weren’t so fortunate. Without the guidance of a strong husband, one of the weaker “sister-wives” (there were eventually 16 in all) wasn’t able to prevent her son from sexually preying upon his sisters, and when one of the victims spoke out, she wasn’t believed. Major and minor transgressions had to be denied; the family did everything possible to avoid contact with the authorities. A strange car driving past the house was cause for terror. Solomon began questioning the fundamentalist doctrine as a teenager, eventually joining the mainstream Mormon church. She made a monogamous marriage to a Vietnam veteran, with whom she had four children. She turned to writing as a way to understand her past, couching her narratives as fiction in order to protect her family. Just as she made peace with her charismatic father, members of a rival fundamentalist group murdered him in 1977. The remainder deals with the family’s attempts to gain justice from authorities who felt that the murder was somehow retribution for the illegal act of polygamy.

Intriguing domestic particulars of a little-known way of life.

Pub Date: July 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-393-04946-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

more