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

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

5.0 1
by Dorothy Allred Solomon
     
 

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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Solomon offers an unflinching memoir of growing up in a polygamist household in Utah....breathtaking.”
June Sawyers - Booklist
“A rare story, indeed, told with much grace and humility.”
Edward Morris - BookPage
“Compelling.”
Teresa Jordan
“I have never read a memoir that moved me so deeply. —Teresa Jordan, author of Riding the White Horse Home”
Diana Diehl - Virginian-Pilot
“Solomon's richly textured writing...captivates the mind and heart.”
Ron Carlson
“This rich personal story goes deeper into the ongoing world of polygamy than we've ever been. —Ron Carlson, author of The Hotel”
Ben Dickinson
“To read this book is to shape-shift into pre-modern, larger-than-life beliefs and emotions—and also to relive their consequences. —Ben Dickinson, Senior Features Editor, Elle”
Lynn Freed
“What a hypnotically strange and dream-like world Dorothy Solomon describes. —Lynn Freed, author of House of Women”
Booklist
A rare story, indeed, told with much grace and humility.— June Sawyers
BookPage
Compelling.— Edward Morris
Publishers Weekly
Solomon's work is far from the sometimes maddeningly prosaic crowd of memoirs by people recounting small triumphs and plain glories. As the 28th of 48 children born to a polygamist, Solomon tells her astonishing tale with so much emotional clarity and raw honesty that the Utah dirt she played in seems wedged between the pages. Because this is a story about Solomon's staggeringly large family, she launches into a great deal of family history, tracing the clan's polygamist past and recounting the recriminations and threats of arrest that color each generation. She describes her father, Rulon Allred, with a subtle combination of attraction and repulsion, giving polygamy a human face while showing how flawed that countenance can be. This long way around to Solomon's own story can be plodding at times, but when she begins to lay bare her personal history, the book crackles with new life. The writing style, a gentle cadence full of detail, serves the story well, as when the author, who was born in 1949, describes her family as being like the deer in the mountains above Salt Lake valley: "For the most part, we were shy, gentle creatures who kept to ourselves, ruminants chewing on our private theology, who dealt with aggression by freezing or running." As Solomon tells of the struggles of the five wives her father had, and the hard times they endured as the authorities sought to enforce antipolygamy laws, she delves deeply into matters of identity, belonging, persecution and independence. (July) Forecast: The Elizabeth Smart case may have renewed interest in polygamy, and readers seeking a first-person account of that world could gravitate to this. Still, it's more literary than sensational, so huge sales aren't likely. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Solomon opens her memoir with the startling revelation that she is the 28th of her father's 48 children. The daughter of a fourth-generation polygamist, she grew up in a world alternately filled with love and fear. In the abundant years, she basked in her father's attention on fishing trips and shared the attention of the mothers. In the darker periods, she and her family members hid from prying neighbors or were scattered across several states, living on the edge of poverty. Solomon provides a remarkably balanced account of the contradictions and pressures she experienced both from within her family and from the surrounding culture. She portrays her father as a gentle doctor filled with the conviction that he was upholding the true Mormon faith and as a man capable of making selfish and blind decisions. She also records the hypocrisies and violence of fellow Mormons and government officials in their campaigns against polygamy. The inclusion of historical accounts of her grandparents' and great-grandparents' lives as polygamists provides a necessary context for understanding her love for her family and the difficult choices she faced. Recommended for all libraries.-[Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/03.]-Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An unusual memoir from the daughter of Mormon fundamentalists who maintained the Principle of Plural Marriage long after the church officially abolished it. "I am the only daughter of my father’s fourth plural wife, twenty-eighth of forty-eight children—a middle kid, you might say, with the middle kid’s propensity for identity crisis," writes Solomon. Polygamy was illegal, of course; in 1945, four years before the author was born, her father stood trial and went to prison, where he served seven months of a five-year sentence. Throughout Solomon’s childhood, the family was forced to scatter to various states and across the border into Mexico. (Typically, a sympathetic police officer would alert them to an impending raid.) Solomon writes of great loneliness; when the family was separated, months would go by without a visit from her father. And while the author’s own full-siblings and mother survived, some of her half-siblings weren’t so fortunate. Without the guidance of a strong husband, one of the weaker "sister-wives" (there were eventually 16 in all) wasn’t able to prevent her son from sexually preying upon his sisters, and when one of the victims spoke out, she wasn’t believed. Major and minor transgressions had to be denied; the family did everything possible to avoid contact with the authorities. A strange car driving past the house was cause for terror. Solomon began questioning the fundamentalist doctrine as a teenager, eventually joining the mainstream Mormon church. She made a monogamous marriage to a Vietnam veteran, with whom she had four children. She turned to writing as a way to understand her past, couching her narratives as fiction in order to protect her family. Justas she made peace with her charismatic father, members of a rival fundamentalist group murdered him in 1977. The remainder deals with the family’s attempts to gain justice from authorities who felt that the murder was somehow retribution for the illegal act of polygamy. Intriguing domestic particulars of a little-known way of life.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393049466
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
06/19/2003
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

Ron Carlson
This rich personal story goes deeper into the ongoing world of polygamy than we've ever been. —Ron Carlson, author of The Hotel
Ben Dickinson
To read this book is to shape-shift into pre-modern, larger-than-life beliefs and emotions—and also to relive their consequences. —Ben Dickinson, Senior Features Editor, Elle
Teresa Jordan
I have never read a memoir that moved me so deeply. —Teresa Jordan, author of Riding the White Horse Home
Lynn Freed
What a hypnotically strange and dream-like world Dorothy Solomon describes. —Lynn Freed, author of House of Women

Meet the Author

Dorothy Allred Solomon lives in Park City, Utah. She is the recipient of several awards from the Utah Arts Council and a Governor's Media Award for Excellence.

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Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk: Growing up in Polygamy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ever since I started reading this book, I cannot put it down. It is written through the eyes of a woman who grew up in a polygamous family - as a child's point of view and as she grew older. The book goes back in history and examines how her ancestors came to live in polygamy and how it has fared since then. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in this topic.