Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing up in Polygamy


Today's nonfiction post is on Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing up in Polygamy by Dorothy Allred Solomon. It is 396 pages long and is published by W. W. Norton & Company. The cover has a blue butterfly in a jar but the picture is a little out of focus. The intended reader is an adult, someone interested in religion or other odd lifestyles. There is some language, talk of rape and incest, and talk of violence. The story is told by the author in first person with other people quoted for added detail. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- “I am the daughter of my father's fourth plural wife, twenty-eighth of forty-eight children- a middle kid, you might say.” So begins this astonishing memoir of life in the family of Utah fundamentalist leader and naturopathic physician Rulon C. Allred. Since polygamy was abolished by manifesto in 1890, this is a story of secrecy and lies, of poverty and imprisonment and government raids. When raids threatened, the families were forced to scatter from their pastoral compound in Salt Lake City to the deserts of Mexico or the wilds of Montana. To follow the Lord's plan as dictated by the Principle, the human cost was huge. Eventually murder in its cruelest form entered when members of a rival fundamentalist group assassinated the author's father.
Dorothy Solomon, monogamous herself, broke from the fundamentalist group because she yearned for equality and could not reconcile the laws of God (as practiced by polygamists) with the vastly different laws of the state. This poignant account chronicles her brave quest for personal identity.

Review- I found this to be a very open and honest memoir. Now that does not mean that I believe that Solomon is giving the whole unpolished truth but I believe that to the best of her ability, she is telling the truth. Solomon talks about how hard it is to be honest about what her family is, was, will be, and even where they are going. She talks about how the first thing the children in the family learn to do is lie to outsiders. The world on the other side of the fence is evil and out to get you. She talks about how hard it was to learn that was not true. This is more than just one woman's memoir of growing up in polygamy but how her family started in polygamy. She traces her family from Europe to the America's on both sides. She gives records about her grandfathers and grandmothers. She also follows her siblings lives as much as she can. Solomon is an outsider to her life now. She is seen as the devil's seed and wants to lead others into hell. When she talks about that, I felt her sorrow that her family cannot understand her. If you are looking for an interesting memoir, give this one a try.
I give this book a Four out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.