Inspired by true events, Torn by God is a riveting family drama that takes place in 1959 in a small Mormon town in Utah. It chronicles the devastation brought upon the Sterling family when the father has a vision which leads him to become involved with a local polygamist group run by a self-serving fundamentalist named Brother Reuben. Under the influence of this group, the father comes to believe that the Mormon Church never should have rescinded polygamy. He knows that the practice is against the law and grounds...
Inspired by true events, Torn by God is a riveting family drama that takes place in 1959 in a small Mormon town in Utah. It chronicles the devastation brought upon the Sterling family when the father has a vision which leads him to become involved with a local polygamist group run by a self-serving fundamentalist named Brother Reuben. Under the influence of this group, the father comes to believe that the Mormon Church never should have rescinded polygamy. He knows that the practice is against the law and grounds for excommunication, but he feels it is something God demands of him. Twelve-year-old Beth watches helplessly as her father becomes increasingly involved with the polygamists and her mother sinks into depression and illness. Even Beth is not safe from Brother Reuben with his piercing eyes and suggestive sexual remarks. When her father leaves home to build a church for the polygamists, the family is cast off by the Mormon community. It is up to Beth to take care of her sick mother and her little brother, Mikey. This story delves deep into the controversial association between mainstream Mormons and fundamentalist off-shoot groups such as those led by Warren Jeffs.
The skill with which this novel is written keeps us in suspense. Beth sees her mother grow seriously ill from the psychic pain she suffers due to her husband's desire to have multiple wives. Beth also sees the disturbing possibility that she could be taken out of school and forced to marry an unpleasant, sex-obsessed older man. Even her younger brother, Mickey, can sense a feeling of doom arising from the path his father is taking.
- David Phillips Phillips
"Torn By God" touches on polygamy and the devastating effect it can have on families. The setting is the late 1950's and starts with a father searching for his own answers following a vision he had. He is carefully recruited into a group of polygamists and while he searches for his answers, his family struggles to stay alive. Described in a gripping way, the reader sees what it's like to live in a small, close-knit Mormon community... a book you'll find yourself reading in one or two sittings.
- Laurie Hope
This is a timely and very human book. Murdock's attention to small details makes this a believable novel. I felt like I had a privileged view of a young girl's authentic and honest diary which helped paint a portrait of Mormon families caught between conflicting factions of their church...can serve as a wonderful jumping off point for further discussion that can help us understand the variety of psychological motivations that lead us to our worldviews.
- Schlockfandam Schlockfandam
Few first novels are as rewarding as Torn by God. Murdock has created a piece of work very worthwhile that deserves to be celebrated for its insights into the human character and revelations surrounding its subject matter.
- Jacqui Unknown
First off, I love stories about polygamy--in fact I am intrigued by any group of people that live outside the norms: Amish, Hasidic, etc. I didn't really research this book before I started reading and for about half of it I thought it was a memoir! Murdock's voice is really authentic and she has written a true page turner. The only thing that prevented me from giving this 5 stars was literally the last page--her wrap up seemed too introspective. But I recommend this book without reservation.
Zoe Murdock lives in Southern California where she writes full time, teaches an advanced fiction writing workshop, and is Co-editor of The FictionWeek Literary Review. She is currently working on her second novel.
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I try to achieve a high level of psychological realism, moving into the mental space of my characters, and settling in for the duration. Maintaining this kind or realism can be difficult at times. For example, when I was writing from the mind of my 12-year-old narrator in Torn by God, there were things I wanted to say that I couldn't say and still maintain the child's perspective. Still, I felt the innocence of the child narrator was important because it was indicative of the innocence of all the characters in the story. They are all controlled by the voice of their parents, by the voice of their religious leaders, by the voice of their God. So I let the girl see what she could see and let the deeper meaning lie beneath the surface, in the subtext where it belongs. It is there for my readers to find.
See other reviews and interviews and events related to Torn by God at:www.hotpresspublishing.com/zoemurdock