A decent addition to a growing body of work about polygamy, the book speaks to the ways isolation, fear and secrecy can...

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THE WITNESS WORE RED

THE 19TH WIFE WHO BROUGHT POLYGAMOUS CULT LEADERS TO JUSTICE

With the assistance of Cook (Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer's Daughter, 2009, etc.), Musser describes her transition from obedient daughter and wife in the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to a key witness in court cases against church leaders, including the "Prophet" Warren Jeffs.

The author was born into the religion, where multiple marriages were the norm, girls were taught to be subservient to their fathers and husbands, and marriage was the path to salvation. At 19, she was forced to become the 19th wife of the 85-year-old FLDS leader, Rulon Jeffs, who had more than 60 wives when he died. When Rulon’s son, Warren, followed him as leader, the abuses became rampant. More and more girls, some underage, were forced into “spiritual marriages” under the guise of God’s will, as handed down by Jeffs. On the other hand, teenage boys were routinely expelled from FLDS to fend for themselves, leaving more girls for church leaders. After her 14-year-old sister was forced into marriage and knowing that being a widow didn’t protect her from a second marriage, Musser fled. A motivational speaker, she views what happened at FLDS as nothing short of “human trafficking—both for labor as well as sex.” Though compelling, Musser’s story is buried in a detail-laden, chronological narrative. The energy picks up when she describes her role in investigations of FLDS activities. She testified 20 times, always dressed in red, a color FLDS women were forbidden to wear. Courageous as she was, her role in seeking justice took a heavy toll on Musser, who lost all contact with family members still in FLDS. She felt the heavy weight of testifying against her “own people,” guilt for “deserting” her siblings and conflicting emotions about church teachings.

A decent addition to a growing body of work about polygamy, the book speaks to the ways isolation, fear and secrecy can shelter insidious abuses until someone has the courage to step forward as a witness.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4555-2785-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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