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Lost Boy
     

Lost Boy

4.0 40
by Brent W. Jeffs, Maia Szalavitz
 

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In the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), girls can become valuable property as plural wives, but boys are expendable, even a liability. In this powerful and heartbreaking account, former FLDS member Brent Jeffs reveals both the terror and the love he experienced growing up on his prophet’s compound—and

Overview

In the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), girls can become valuable property as plural wives, but boys are expendable, even a liability. In this powerful and heartbreaking account, former FLDS member Brent Jeffs reveals both the terror and the love he experienced growing up on his prophet’s compound—and the harsh exile existence that so many boys face once they have been expelled by the sect.

Brent Jeffs is the nephew of Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of the FLDS. The son of a prominent family in the church, Brent could have grown up to have multiple wives of his own and significant power in the 10,000-strong community. But he knew that behind the group’s pious public image—women in chaste dresses carrying babies on their hips—lay a much darker reality. So he walked away, and was the first to file a sexual-abuse lawsuit against his uncle. Now Brent shares his courageous story and that of many other young men who have become “lost boys” when they leave the FLDS, either by choice or by expulsion.

Brent experienced firsthand the absolute power that church leaders wield—the kind of power that corrupts and perverts those who will do anything to maintain it. Once young men no longer belong to the church, they are cast out into a world for which they are utterly unprepared. More often than not, they succumb to the temptations of alcohol and other drugs.

Tragically, Brent lost two of his brothers in this struggle, one to suicide, the other to overdose. In this book he shows that lost boys can triumph and that abuse and trauma can be overcome, and he hopes that readers will be inspired to help former FLDS members find their way in the world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

In this moving debut memoir, the nephew of a Mormon sect leader chronicles life in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and what came after. Among a 10,000-member Mormon community, Jeffs grew up with three mothers, more than a dozen siblings, and a deep fear of the world outside of the church. Within the secretive community, Jeffs was taught that purity came from special attention to dress, hard work, generosity and, most importantly, obedience to one's elders (especially his uncle, the prophet Warren Jeffs). The focus of this fast-paced memoir is the sexual abuse Jeffs and his brothers endured at the hands of their relatives during church and school functions, for which he would file a class-action lawsuit in 2004. Jeffs's descent into depression proves the beginning of the end for his relationship with the church and, consequently, with much of his family. Jeffs outlines the core beliefs of the Church, along with the oppressive ends to which they were used, and the heartbreaking fate of those church members expelled into a society they were raised to see as evil and corrupt. This hard-to-put-down, tightly woven account pulls back the curtain on what's become a perennial news story, while illustrating the impiety of absolute power and the delicacy of innocence.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780767931779
Publisher:
Broadway Books
Publication date:
05/19/2009
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

O N E Heaven or Hell

Every child believes he's special. But when you are number ten of twenty, with three " sister- mothers"--two of whom are full- blooded sisters--and a grandfather whom thousands of people believe speaks directly to God, it can be hard to figure out what "special" really means.

All told, I have roughly sixty- five aunts and uncles on my dad's side and twenty- two on my mom's--with probably thousands of cousins. In families as large as mine, even keeping track of your own siblings--let alone cousins and aunts and uncles--is difficult.

As a grandson of Rulon Jeffs and nephew of Warren Jeffs, it once seemed that I was destined for high honor in the FLDS. My family had what our church called "royal blood." We were direct descendants of our prophet through my father's line. My mother, too, is the child of a prophet, who split from our group in 1978 to lead his own polygamous sect.

When I was little, my family was favored, in the church's elite. I was assured that there was a place for me in the highest realms of heaven and at least three wives for me right here on earth once I attained the Melchizedek priesthood. I was in a chosen family in a chosen people, visiting sacred land near end times. I would one day become a god, ruling over my own spinning world.

So why would I ever abandon such status and rank? In the world of the FLDS, things are not always what they seem. The shiny, smiling surfaces often hide a world of rot and pain. And even royal blood and being born male can't protect you from sudden changes in its convoluted power structure.

Outsiders tend to think our form of polygamy must be a great deal for us men. You get sexual variety without guilt: in fact, you are commanded by God to have multiple partners and the women are expected to go along with it. Indeed, they are supposed to be happy about doing so and obediently serve you. This is the only way for all of you to get to the highest realms of heaven.

To many men, that sounds like heaven right there, without any need for the afterlife part. They focus on the sex--fantasizing about a harem of young, beautiful women, all at their beck and call. They don't think about the responsibility--or the balancing act needed to keep all of those women happy, or even just to minimize their complaints. During the one full year I attended public school, the few guys who befriended me rather than ridiculing me were fascinated by it all.

But while it might seem good in theory, in practice, at least in my experience, it's actually a recipe for misery for everyone involved. In the FLDS anyway, polygamy and its power structure continuously produce a constant, exhausting struggle for attention and resources.

In families as large as mine, it simply isn't possible for all of the women and children to get their needs met. Just making sure the children are fed, clothed, and physically accounted for is an ongoing challenge. Simply keeping dozens of children physically safe is close to impossible.

I'd estimate that maybe one in five FLDS families has lost a child early in life, frequently from accidents that better supervision could have prevented. And that number doesn't include deaths related to the genetic disorder that runs in our church--which handicaps and often kills children very early in life but which many members refuse to see as a result of marriages among closely related families.

For the father, even though he's at the top of the heap in his own family, he must constantly disappoint, reject, ignore, and/or fail to satisfy at least some wives and kids. There's only so much of his time and attention to go...

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Meet the Author

BRENT W. JEFFS spent his entire childhood in the Jeffs compound as nephew of Warren Jeffs and grandson of Rulon Jeffs, the Mormon fundamentalist group’s former prophet, who had dozens of wives and more than sixty children. He currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a beautiful wife and daughter.

MAIA SZALAVITZ is the author and coauthor of several books, including Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Elle, and is a Senior Fellow at stats.org, a media watchdog group. She lives in New York City.

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Lost Boy 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Lost Boy was an incredible story of Warren Jeffs nephew, Brent. For those who want to expand your knowledge of the FLDS sect this book is for you. It was an incredibly sad yet inspiring book and my heart goes out to Brent and all the lost boys (and girls) who have been abused, manipulated and treated like trained animals in a zoo ..and not just by the FLDS but by those of us outside the sect who didn't understand, who didn't hear the cry for help, who made fun and teased those different from us. Thank you Brent for the courage it must have taken for you to write this extremely poignant novel of your life - the one you had and the one you wanted.
chancie1 More than 1 year ago
loved the book.Sheds much light since there are very few men's stories involving Jeffs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is both sad and informative. After having read this book and Escaped as well as Triumph, I have a better understanding of how things are or were for these poor people. That life is all they ever knew and how hard it was to learn that the outside world was not so bad.
avidreaderWS More than 1 year ago
This book really gives great insight into the FLDS. The things that happened to poor Brent leaves me without words. Exploring the difference of my religion with the FLDS is astonishing. Definitely a good read, but leaves me wondering how people can live like they do in the FLDS.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Im back jack XD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you not get it
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What
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Here?
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FunkyMonkey68 More than 1 year ago
This book was very interesting. I bought it after I saw the author do an interview on tv. I read it in a day. It amazes what people will believe and follow, even if it doesn't make sense or hurts you. I understand that the children have no say but it would seem that the adults would know better. Sheep to slaughter. What this young man went through living with the FLDS, the burden of his last name and the trials he is still going though to overcome his past, shows how resilient a person can be. If you want into the mind and heart of an FLDS survivor, this is an amazing read.
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EXCELLENT!!!:0
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