October 06, 2011

Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer

Having already read "His Favorite Wife" I was much surprised to find out that this book was written by a sister-wife of "His Favorite Wife"'s author. Eagerly, I set into it to find a different perspective of the same family. And like the others, I found it immensely heart breaking.

Irene starts the tale of her life as a small girl growing up in a polygamous family. Coming from four generations of polygamy, the doctrines are all she knows of life. When her mother leaves her father and becomes married to an abusive man, she escapes to her Aunt's polygamous family and in doing so meets the charming Verlan LeBaron. While she has a love at home, but sadly only one that would turn into monogamous for he and give her no hope of being "exalted" she turns to him thinking it would be better for her future.

In a secret wedding, she becomes his second wife. Only then does she realize the heartache she's gotten herself into. She has to compete with his first and to her mind, favorite wife who is also her half sister. Throughout the years she has thirteen children with Verlan and also sees the addition of 8 more wives to his family. Each one breaks her heart and she wants some time with him. Throughout these years she is forced to move a number of times and must make do with many hardships and living in poverty.

Surprisingly there's not much in there about her sister-wife Susan who was the author of the aforementioned book but Irene does say that she thought of her fondly and held no grievances towards her. It was interesting to see the difference between the two books because in Susan's book she made Irene out to be happy and cheerful and loving, while in this book it was clearly shown that she was always miserable. Irene had a sense of humor though and to my opinion that had to have helped keep her going despite everything.

Such a sad book but it was nice to see that she was finally able to leave and found love and someone who deserved her. I was shocked to find out how large her family has grown. With thirteen children she now has 118 grandchildren and 37 great grandchildren. That's a whole lot of family!

After reading so much about polygamous families and thier lives I find it so unbelievable that more is not done to help those that want out. I know there are several groups that have been formed but it seems like in Utah, Mexico, and other areas that there is not much accountability for the despair these people live. Hopefully as more books like these come out there will be more women who are able to escape this life.

Having wrote the book herself, I would have to say Irene did a marvelous job. She tells her story clearly and concisely and even manages to put a bit of humor in such a sad story. I strongly recommend reading this book just for the value of learning.

Shattered Dreams
Copyright 2007
385 pages
Also includes a good portion of photos in the middle.

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