I love hated The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner. It was one of my Book of the Month picks last month and I am both glad I read it, but also wish I had not read it at the same time. See below for a great Book of the Month Club deal.
This is Wariner's memoir about her life growing up in a polygamous Mormon farm in Mexico and a few other places. She is surrounded mostly by her family only as they live in barely livable conditions and has little interaction with her step father's other families except in church, which her father founded before he was killed by his brother, and in school, where Wariner is taught in Spanish almost exclusively.
Even though life is difficult and as she was growing up two of her elder siblings had disorders of some kind- one mental and another physical, as well as her younger brother having a mental disorder due to malnutrition, her family life was playful and times were ok. They knew they were not like other families, but they made it work.
Unfortunately, it is also the story of Lane, Wariner's step father. He treats Wariner's mother like a baby machine, is abusive, and molests children that aren't his including Ruth. Although that small rule would be broken later in his life. Lane would visit Ruth at night or ask her to sit on his lap during the day or take some of the younger girls (and later boys) on trips for a long time. At one time, he wanted to take Ruth's 2 year old sister on one of his work trips. On these trips, he would touch them and sexually molest them.
There were lots of moments when I was actually yelling at the book, such as when Ruth finally told her mother, her mother and the other mothers made Lane apologize and promise not to do it again. Of course he did it again. Another was when her mother finally escapes the situation, is living a good life with her parents, and then decides she needs to go back to Lane and brings the family back. There are a ton of these moments in the book, so prepare yourself.
What kept me reading was Wariner's ability to tell story. Even though this is her freshman book, she had a way of telling her story that brought the reader in and even made her mother's sometimes foolish decisions make sense. She didn't paint her mother as a religious zealot, but as a mom who didn't really know what to do, had religious values, but was stuck and frozen by these values so much so that she couldn't see the harm that was happening. Many things happen to her mother that are heartbreaking including the end. She is a very tragic figure.
I gave this one 4 stars and highly recommend it, but take it out of the library. I will also warn there are lots of trigger warnings for those who have issues with rape/molestation. If you are a person with those triggers, avoid this one like the plague.
Here is your Amazon link- The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
Want to give Book of the Month a try? How about this? A one month subscription for just $5! Click my link and use the code "read5" This month's picks are incredible- Dark Matter, Siracusa, The Woman in Cabin 10. You can get one for these for just $5! Here is the link- Book of the Month.