Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Review: Hidden Wives by Claire Avery

Since starting this blog in January of this year, I have come across a handful of fiction books that speak to me deeply. These are books that have characters with whom I identify in one way or another and whom I admire for their tenacity and strength in times of great trial. The stories have gotten hold of me and the memories of them will not quickly fade.

Hidden WivesHidden Wives by Claire Avery is one of these books.

Having been raised in a fundamental polygamist community, teen sisters Rachel and Sara are used to following the wishes of their parents when it comes to what to believe, what to wear, where to attend school, and even who they are allowed to talk to. However, when the girls reach the age of marriageability, which is thirteen to fifteen, their lives take quite a turn when they discover that they are to be married to much older men, men who already have several wives. Then Rachel meets Luke, a new boy in the community who soon wins her heart and seeks to marry her. The situation turns violent when Rachel's engagement is announced and she is told she may no longer see Luke. The teens plan an escape and are soon running for their lives.

As I was reading this book, I couldn't stop thinking about the poor girls in West Texas who were living in a ranch that was raided by the state and 416 children were taken from their homes as a result of reports of 12 to 16-year-old girls who were allegedly married to the men of the community. This happened just a few miles from the city where I grew up. I wanted to cry as I saw the girls and their mothers on TV day after day, looking lost and confused. And then I saw an interview with the wives, where they essentially denied all the allegations and sounded like they were saying things that had been memorized. I wondered if they said what they did in fear of what would happen to them if they told the truth. 

Probably the reason that the events in Hidden Wives rang true for me is because the author(s) grew up in a similar kind of community. I'm sure they have heard of or seen the same things happen among their friends and family members.

I thoroughly enjoyed Hidden Wives. I cheered on the brave young women as they sought to escape the confines of the lifestyle in which they were raised. I wept as unspeakable horrors occured, all in the name of religion. And I sighed as the book came to an all-satisfying close.

Hidden Wives is a book not to be missed. I give it 5 out of 5 stars!
You can read more about Hidden Wives here and here.

And here is a video of parts of an interview with the author(s) of Hidden Wives:

CLAIRE AVERY is a pseudonym for a writing team of two sisters. Mari Hilburn, an attorney, and Michelle Poché, a screenwriter.
Being raised in a Mel-Gibson-Catholic-fundamentalist type of home was anything but ordinary. Add in a little socialism, a healthy dose of old fashioned guilt and a father who was so charismatic that you lost yourself in his dream, and you have all the necessary ingredients for a fiction writer’s ideal childhood. His charisma laid the foundation for a group that has since grown to thousands nationwide. Growing up in this fundamentalist community provided us with a real-life cast of characters worthy of a John Irving novel. This included Barefoot Guy, an ex-monk who went barefoot even in harsh Chicago winters as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice. It wasn’t until Barefoot Guy accompanied us on a ski trip, then stood outside in the snow proselytizing to other skiers sans the footwear, did we realize what an extremely weird childhood we had.

(I received this book from the author for review purposes. I received no monetary compensation for this review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.)


Carrie said...

This book sounds FABULOUS! I'm sold!

(And did you just start blogging in January?! Feels like much longer than that!)

alisonwonderland said...

Nice review! I've seen a couple of reviews now that have convinced me that I need to read this one.