The Polygamist's Daughter: A Memoir

The Polygamist's Daughter: A Memoir

Paperback

$14.39 $15.99 Save 10% Current price is $14.39, Original price is $15.99. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Want it by Thursday, November 15 Order now and choose Expedited Shipping during checkout.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496417558
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 03/21/2017
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 235,146
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Anna LeBaron is a daughter of the infamous polygamist cult leader Ervil LeBaron. She escaped the cult as a teenager and embarked on a lifelong journey toward freedom.


Anna LeBaron is a daughter of the infamous polygamist cult leader Ervil LeBaron. She escaped the cult as a teenager and embarked on a lifelong journey toward freedom.

Read an Excerpt

The Polygamist's Daughter

A Memoir


By Anna LeBaron, Leslie Wilson, Bonne Steffen

Tyndale House Publishers

Copyright © 2017 Anna LeBaron
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4964-1755-8


CHAPTER 1

"What will we do without you?"

I stood in the driveway of our Dallas home, clinging to my mother as the sun rose higher in the sky, and begged her through my tears not to go. I couldn't imagine life without my mother. So great was my grief that I barely noticed her two sister-wives saying good-bye to their own children.

We had been living there only a short time, having moved yet again on short notice. I'd be sent off to school that day with no explanation as to why my mom had to leave — again. Usually she left without notice and would come back in a few days, or sometimes weeks. This time was different. She didn't know when she would be back.

I'm sure Mom felt like she had no other choice — she was obeying my father's order. Ervil LeBaron led The Church of the Lamb of God, a radical offshoot of the Mormon Church, and Anna Mae was the fourth of his thirteen wives. Like the other wives, she learned early on to do as she was told.

My mom, raised in Arizona, had met and married her second husband, Nephi, when they were both part of the traditional Mormon Church, known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nephi attended one of Ervil LeBaron's exhaustive talks and eventually bought into my dad's more radical offshoot of Mormonism. He hurried home to tell my mom that the way they'd been living out Joseph Smith's teaching was all wrong. When she remonstrated, Nephi invited Ervil to their home to convince my mom that they needed to convert and follow this new prophet. Ervil was powerfully persuasive — so much so that Nephi and my mother not only converted, but agreed to relocate to Colonia LeBaron in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Nephi stayed in Arizona to sell their home, but my mom went ahead with their five children. During this transition, she spent an inordinate amount of time with Ervil, who — while tall, handsome, and charismatic — was also narcissistic, entitled, and manipulative. He proclaimed that he had a revelation that it was God's will and plan for my mom's life that she leave Nephi and marry him instead. She fell madly in love with Ervil, and like the other sister-wives before and after her, she succumbed to his potent influence. They married and she had seven more children with him, including me.

"Please, Mom, don't go."

On the driveway, I wrapped my arms around Mom's waist, my tears dampening the front of her faded denim dress.

"Anna Keturah," she said firmly. Like most mothers, Mom always included my middle name when I stirred up trouble. She named me, her tenth child, after herself, but insisted on a different pronunciation (Ah-nah) that she heard while pregnant with me.

"Stop crying! You're seven years old. Crying doesn't do any good." She bent over and kissed my cheek. I placed my hand over the spot to hold in her warmth as long as possible.

Helpless, I watched her get into the beat-up Chevy with three of Dad's other followers. Along with the other kids and a few remaining adults, I watched them drive away, hoping Mom would turn around and wave or smile at me one more time. She didn't. My thirteen-year-old sister, Kathleen, took my hand, pulled me into the house, and did her best to comfort me. This wasn't her first time being left in charge of the kids in my mother's absence.

Those of us left behind in Dallas were supported by the adult women in our group who worked at the family's used appliance business, although the majority of the income generated from the family business went to my father. The sister-wives, even nursing mothers, spent long days — often twelve to fourteen hours of backbreaking labor — at the store, just one of many abuses they endured under my father's control. We children witnessed some of the other abuses, but all of us had been conditioned to keep silent.

While the women were gone, Kathleen cared for me, Adine, Hyrum, Celia, Marilyn, Manuel, Virginia, and other children of my mom's sister-wives. To pass the time, Kathleen played games and read to us, activities she preferred over the never-ending housework. Though Kathleen did her best to scrape together meals to feed us, when the sister-wives got home, they would scold her for not cleaning up the messes made by so many toddlers and young children.

When we were all together, I quietly observed the interactions between the sister-wives. Some had petty jealousies, and a few spoke cattily behind each other's backs. Others got along well, especially biological sisters married to the same husband. As teenagers, two of my mother's daughters, Ramona and Faye, were given in marriage to Dan Jordan, my father's right-hand man. Ramona became Dan's sixth wife at age seventeen.

Later, Faye was "sealed" to him following her sixteenth birthday, along with my step-sister Amy. Since the "blessed event" making them wives number seven and eight took place on the same night, Ervil flipped a coin after performing the double ceremony to see which of the girls would share the marriage bed with her new husband that first night. Faye was relieved when Amy was chosen to spend that first night with the forty-plus-year-old man.

These hurried ceremonies were performed in secret; in many cases, the other wives knew nothing until after the fact. Even if the girls in our group dreamed of being courted, dating, or marrying different young men, they never experienced that kind of happilyever-after; those types of relationships were seldom allowed. The older men in Dad's sect preferred younger and younger wives, and they managed to get their way with each successive marriage. At first, group members frowned upon underage unions and quietly protested when the older men began to court teenage girls, but the leaders became ever more emboldened, and the disapproving whispers and looks from the older wives did nothing to stop this practice.


* * *

A few months after my mom left us in Dallas, Kathleen roused me from a deep slumber. "Wake up, Anna. It's time to go."

As usual, no one had told me that we were moving again. But I knew the drill. I gathered a couple of items within reach and padded down the long hallway behind my older siblings. None of us had many personal possessions, since we left behind most of our belongings with each move. What we did have, we kept in small cardboard boxes, which, if we were lucky, we could grab before leaving the house. An extra change of clothes and a few special trinkets were treasures that we would keep well-hidden so other siblings wouldn't take them, claiming them as their own. We felt rich when we had a full deck of cards for a card game, a diversion that would keep us entertained for hours. Speed, War, and Slapjack were my favorites.

When we got outside, I blinked several times, then wiped the sleep from my eyes as I tried to see my surroundings under the heavy cloud cover.

"Keep moving," a husky voice barked.

I felt someone thump me on the back of my head. I turned slightly and stuck out my tongue at my brother Arthur, only because I knew he couldn't see me in the inky darkness. I was wearing flip-flops, and with the next step, I stubbed my toe on a piece of the crumbling driveway and nearly fell. My rubber sandal fell off, and I had to scurry back a couple of steps to retrieve it. Another man, Alex, helped herd us kids as well. Clearly, they were in a hurry to get on the road.

"Anna?" cried the thin, fearful voice of Celia, my sister closest in age.

"I'm right here."

She took my hand, and I asked her to help me find my sandal. We felt around in the dark until she found it just off the driveway in the weed-ridden yard. I quickly slipped it back on, and we fell back in line with the others.

"Do you know where we're going?" Celia whispered again.

"I heard Arthur say something about Colorado."

"Oh, I hope so. That's where Mom is." We clung tightly to one another, and to the hope of seeing our mother again.

"I can't see anything. Where are the cars?"

We both knew we would need at least two vehicles to transport all of us kids on the eight-hundred-mile trek from Dallas to Denver. Just as I opened my mouth to say I didn't know, the clouds parted slightly, and a full moon revealed a large box truck sitting at the end of our cracked driveway.

"We're not going in that, are we?" My surprise and disgust carried my words slightly too far, reaching Arthur's ears at the front of the line.

As he directed everyone to the open back of the box truck, he hissed at each one, "Get in. Find a place to sit, and be quiet. Absolutely no talking!" Then he spun around and headed toward me. He yanked my arm hard, and held me in place while the line of siblings marched on toward the truck. Celia could only watch, her countenance filled with compassion mixed with confusion. Arthur leaned down, his face only inches away from my own. I could smell the peanut butter on his breath.

"Shut your mouth and get in. You know we're doing this to build God's kingdom. Do you think I need to hear you complaining?"

"N-no," I stammered, trying to wrench free from his firm grasp.

He tightened his strong fingers around my upper arm until I felt certain they would leave a mark — or worse, a bruise. "Then I'd better not hear another peep out of you." He quickly released my arm and shoved me in the middle of my back, propelling me forward once more. I stutter-stepped but managed not to fall or lose my flimsy flip-flop again and climbed in the back of the truck.

The space inside was dimly lit by a couple of flashlights held by older siblings. Someone had spread a few moving blankets across the floor of the truck, but these did little to soften the hard wood floor. I wrinkled my nose at the pungent odor of mothballs mixed with the greasy residue on the blankets. Scanning the truck for Celia, I quickly spotted her midway back. She patted the floor next to her, indicating she had room for me beside her. Even the slight movement of her hand echoed throughout the empty space and garnered startled looks from the older siblings.

I scurried next to Celia, sat down cross-legged, and leaned up against the metal wall behind me. We sat quietly for what seemed like an eternity. Even a sigh or heavy breath brought worried glances from other siblings because Arthur had told us not to make any noise. I didn't even want to imagine what the adults might say or do if one of us younger ones actually spoke up about our confusion or fear. Celia and I clutched one another, and that small reassurance helped me keep my rising whimpers at bay.

Finally, Arthur appeared at the back of the truck. He grabbed the door handle and pulled it down, and the door rattled shut, leaving us in darkness, except for the faint light of the flashlights. Moments later, the tired truck sputtered to life. The way it squeaked and groaned around every turn, I worried that we wouldn't make it out of our neighborhood, much less anywhere else. It bounced in and out of potholes as we made our way onto a Dallas freeway en route to Colorado.

After a while, the noise provided enough covering for me to safely whisper to Celia, "What do we do if we have to go to the bathroom?"

Celia only shrugged her shoulders, but I could see dread in her eyes.

Thankfully, Arthur and Alex, who took turns driving, made scheduled, reasonable potty breaks. They even gave us a loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter along with a butter knife after one stop at a gas station and convenience store. It was all we had to eat, but still it was something. I gobbled up my sandwich in mere moments. We played guessing games about where we were headed and told stories to pass the time.

I managed a fitful sleep, but when I woke I was stiff and sore from lying on my side. It took me a moment or two to get my bearings. My ears were buzzing from the constant noise of the motor and the grinding gears that were mere inches from where I'd rested my head.

But ringing ears and stiff muscles seemed a small price to pay to see my mom again. I hoped the truck would hold together long enough to get us to our destination.

Finally, the loud, constant hum of tires on pavement traveling at highway speeds lessened. The truck careened one direction, then the next. We held on to one another for stability when we weren't lying down. One of the older kids turned a flashlight back on. "I think we're almost there. Gather up your stuff." All I had with me was a worn stuffed rabbit and a ponytail holder — we called them bolitos — around my wrist. Celia held her prized possession, a worn Raggedy Andy doll, to her chest.

When we finally came to a stop, the rolling door was opened with a deafening rumble that reverberated off the metal walls. Celia and I squinted in the bright sunlight, thankful to hear nothing but relative quiet. I saw a figure just outside the back of the truck — something familiar about it made me sit up.

"Mom!" I yelled, as the tears started welling up in my eyes and the ache in my heart began to ease. I clambered over my siblings to get to the edge of the truck bed, lean over, and hug my mother's neck. "I never thought I would see you again!"

"Anna Keturah, stop being so dramatic." She held me tightly for a few seconds, then peeled me off and searched for her other children who needed hugs as well.


* * *

Celia, my other siblings, and I experienced a few blissful days — blissful only in the sense that we were reunited with our mother, not in less work or more comfortable living conditions. This new "home" in Denver was completely run down, like all the other barely affordable houses we rented. The cramped three-bedroom, one-bathroom house sheltered about twenty of us, which meant constantly crowded conditions. Mom, her children, and the other children in her care shared this home with Teresa and Yolanda, two of my mother's sister-wives, and their six children.

I didn't realize it at the time, but Mom shouldered enormous responsibility. She cared for her own seven children, the ones who were still minors, as well as four other children who belonged to Beverly, Mom's sister-wife who was in prison. But that wasn't all. Mom was given charge of her sister-wife Mary Lou's children when Mary Lou lost her short battle with cancer.

I don't remember ever meeting Mary Lou, but I do recall the day that two of her six kids showed up at our house when Mom was gone for a couple of weeks and Kathleen was in charge of us children. The newcomers, technically my half-brother and half-sister, spoke little English, and I could see the fear and worry etched on their faces. I remember my mom taking us aside after returning home and instructing us to be kind to them because they no longer had a mother and they were separated from their older siblings. They lived with and were cared for by my mom from then on.

Even though we all had our own mothers, we were expected to obey all of the sister-wives. Teresa and Yolanda meant well, but if you got on their nerves — as children tend to do — they'd pick up any nearby object to administer a spanking. Their go-to items included a long-handled spoon, the back of a hairbrush, or even their shoe, which they'd remove in a pinch if we misbehaved or didn't do what we were asked to do.

As always, my sisters and I spent hours washing dishes — plastic margarine tubs that served as our only bowls — and doing laundry, while Mom, Teresa, and Yolanda were working at the used appliance store. We took our time with the household chores we were assigned in the absence of the adults.

My life in Denver brought many challenges, but being separated from my mother was not one of them, so it seemed nearly perfect to me. I recall a few happy moments in the Xavier Street house, playing Monopoly and card games inside. In the backyard, we played tag or caught grasshoppers to see who could hold on to one the longest, squealing in horror as they wiggled around in our hands.

At night, we each spread our threadbare blanket on the living room floor and lapped half of it over ourselves to create a thin makeshift sleeping bag. As usual, I snuggled near Celia, thankful to be away from the large cockroaches we'd come to fear in Texas. We giggled and whispered about playing house and dreamt of having new dresses, all our own.

While in Denver, I first heard a phrase that I didn't understand but didn't dare ask about: "hot lead, cold steel, and a one-way ticket to hell."

What I didn't know then was that nearly two years later, hell would be unleashed right on our doorstep.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Polygamist's Daughter by Anna LeBaron, Leslie Wilson, Bonne Steffen. Copyright © 2017 Anna LeBaron. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Irene Spencer

The Polygamist’s Daughter is a heart-wrenching account of my niece Anna’s extreme neglect, fear, and abuse inflicted by the very ones meant to protect her. Readers will be astonished by her powerful testimony of surviving danger and terror while growing up in the cult of her infamous father, Ervil LeBaron. This account of Anna’s resilient spirit, strength, and courage brings hope to others—many of whom, through fear, have remained silent for too long!

Sarah Mae

The Polygamist’s Daughter is a crazy read, full of things almost unimaginable in this day and age. And yet it’s real, and Anna LeBaron went through it. The Polygamist’s Daughter is a riveting narrative, but even more, it’s a story of redemption. Read it for the ride, but settle in for the hope.

Sally Clarkson

Anna’s personal story is riveting, captivating, and heart wrenching all at once. You will be startled by this true-life tale and also amazed at the profound ways Anna brings comfort and strength to so many journeying with her. You will be mesmerized by this book and deeply touched by her ability to mount up above her challenging life. Great job, Anna!

Mary DeMuth

The Polygamist’s Daughter reads like a taut suspense novel, only Anna’s story is terrifyingly real. I rooted for Anna, experiencing her unstable, uprooted, crime-laden childhood alongside her. This memoir reminds us all that no one is beyond the reach of Jesus, and He loves to pursue the broken in broken places.

Ruth Wariner

Since I’ve met my cousin Anna, she’s been a force of inspiration. Reading her memoir, I now fully understand why. Anna’s childhood struggles could’ve been anyone’s, and were certainly similar to my own, but her brave and passionate spirit shines as a bright reminder that no matter what happens in our lives, what lies within us is stronger and more powerful than our circumstances.

Julie Presley

As remembered through the eyes of a child, certain aspects of The Polygamist’s Daughter seem at times more like adventure than inhumane living situations. You will be captivated as Anna LeBaron’s life circumstances weigh heavier and heavier upon her, culminating in the brave decision to escape from the grip of a horrific family situation. Carrying insurmountable grief, she eventually finds peace and wholeness in Jesus. Anna has woven a tragic yet redemptive telling of her childhood that will leave you wrought with holy emotions right up until the last page.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Polygamist's Daughter: A Memoir 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 62 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow, just wow. You hear about cults all the time, but it is rare to get an actual peek inside of one. In this book, Anna LeBaron gives us a detailed look at what life was like growing up in a cult. Her story of resilience and determination to rise above her upbringing is amazing and inspiring. Her writing style is engaging and hard to put down. I read the entire book in two sittings! Highly recommend, but you might need a tissue or two. I received an advanced reader copy of this book.
KBShank80 More than 1 year ago
This book reads like the best suspense novel with twists in every chapter. LeBaron masterfully balances authentically telling her harrowing story of growing up in the polygamous cult led by the murderous Ervil LeBaron with respectfully representing her family. The details of her daily life allow the reader to easily imagine themselves living in her place. As I read the book there were times I forgot I was reading a true story because the details are so unimaginable. Her stories give a rare glimpse into the beliefs and practices of this secluded religious cult and the dangers that surround their lives. I was on edge at all times, not knowing what might happen next to her and her siblings. There were many times when I just wanted to shake (or scream at) the adults around her and save her. Her story is truly one of overcoming personal tragedy and the most unbelievable family redemption. Woven throughout the book are glimpses of hope in the form of people who offered her love in both big and little ways, from the teacher who took an interest in her or the sister who helped her escape. Even with all the trauma she endured because of her family, the final chapters are the picture of grace through the healing of her relationships with various family members. Her story is both unbelievable and incredibly encouraging. This book is powerful but definitely takes time to fully process because its details illuminate the evil that still exists in this country in the name of religion. I received an Advanced Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
MaureenST More than 1 year ago
A read that will make you realize how lucky you are and how your childhood compared to this poor little girl who really didn’t have one. A survivor for sure, but at what price, and what is told in this true story of the life of Anna LeBaron. I vaguely remember reading about some of the murders that were committed but this cult, and why, well you can’t leave, or the head honcho doesn’t like you or wants what you have. No wonder this girl ends up in therapy, and you have to wonder while reading if it can even help, all that she has been through and seen. You wonder how a mother could allow these things to happen to her child, or leave her, in a foreign country no less, but then I had to think this woman was so brain washed, but it still made it hard to read all that went on. This is a quick page turning read, and once I started the author compelled me to keep reading, all the while I wanted to hug and comfort her, but loved the story right to the end. I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Tyndale, and was not required to give a positive review.
Soby More than 1 year ago
This is an inspiring story about an amazing woman with an unspeakably painful past who escaped, overcame, and created a better life for herself and now shares her experience and the hope she found that got her through. I “met” Anna through a very close friend of mine who also happens to be a close friend of Anna’s. She added me to the review group that Anna runs about a year ago, but The Polygamist’s Daughter ended up being the first book I got to review due to her taking a break from running reviews while finishing up her own book. I almost missed my chance to review this book because the sign up came out in the middle of my move but I was lucky enough to make the second round of advance readers!!
 I received this book days after having a baby and it was a couple of days before I was able to start reading. Once I did I couldn’t put it down. Even my husband commented on how quickly I read it. Even with all the tasks of caring for a newborn, I got through it in just two or three days. Anna shares heart-wrenching memories from her childhood. She and her siblings and other family experienced things that nobody should have to go through. It is mind boggling how adults can accept such a life but there is a vast amount of mental abuse and manipulation involved in cults like the one Anna escaped from. The writing itself is engaging and the story flows seamlessly making it hard to put the book down even though the story itself is so sad and painful. It is not an “easy read” so don’t misunderstand me. The content is hard to digest and can be triggering for many who have experienced trauma in their own past. Be prepared to work through your own issues while reading through this book. One thing that struck me is how much grace Anna writes with. Even when discussing people who treated her horribly or situations that no child should ever have to experience I felt hope, love, and grace shining through the words. I could feel her love and care for her family members and her desire to see them escape the mental and physical bonds as well. Anna blesses us all by combining her gift of writing with her past experiences and sharing the hope that can be found even in dark circumstances. I received an advanced reader copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion, all thoughts and opinions are mine alone.
Carolyn_Dube More than 1 year ago
I received an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review. There are no good words to describe the childhood that Anna LeBaron endured. I mean, while I was worried about getting strawberry instead of chocolate ice cream, Anna worried about her next meal, and middle of the night moves, and who her father may or may not have promised her to as a child bride. She survived escape from her father' polygamist cult, not unscarred, but also not completely broken. A true testament to her strength and perseverance. But through all of the pain and suffering, you see her find her voice and self worth not in a father who neglected her but in her Father who called her His beloved daughter. You will not be able to put this book down. Every step along the way brings a new twist and turn leaving you wondering if reality really is crazier than fiction. (By the way- the answer is yes.)
TJMill More than 1 year ago
LeBaron takes the reader on a vivid journey through her childhood in a violent, polygamous cult led by her father, Ervil LeBaron. Her childhood was marked by abuse, neglect, confusion, poverty, murder, and loss. Through telling the story from a child's perspective and the use of engaging dialogue, the reader gets easily and quickly immersed in this memoir. It's hard to put down once you start! Through God's grace, optimism, and each other, LeBaron and her siblings survived and she then takes the reader on her incredible journey to freedom and to becoming who she is today. The book as a whole is a story of Loss to Life, Fear to Freedom, Rejected to Redeemed, Oppressed to Overcomer.
JWill More than 1 year ago
Multiple times while reading this book I had to remind myself that this is a memoir. Anna LeBaron actually lived these unimaginable nightmares. This book is spectacularly written, a hauntingly powerful remembrance of the things the author endured (and escaped from) at the hands of her father and his cult. A story of hope and ultimate healing, this book is not to be missed.
MeganEricson More than 1 year ago
I cannot comprehend the atrocities Anna LeBaron faced raised in a polygamist cult, daughter of cult leader Ervil LeBaron. In her memoir, she tells how she was enslaved in about every sense of the word: forced into child labor, starved, trained to never ask questions or show emotion, living in literal fear for her life, and running from the authorities for most of it. With all the plot twists and turns of a blockbuster movie, I kept having to remind myself that these events aren't contrived "plots." They are real events that happened to actual people. Names were literally changed to protect the innocent (and not-so-innocent). Though I've read several accounts of polygamist cult survivors, The Polygamist's Daughter stands out because of the hope laced through every sentence. Yes, the facts are all there, but she records them as just that, facts. She records them without contempt or added drama (When your father is a notorious cult leader and murderer, who needs to add drama? Am I right?) I really don't know how one person could possibly endure the physical, emotional and spiritual enslavement Anna endured and still function as a normal human being. However, Anna not only lives to tell the tale, she shares the secret of her healing and gives the gift of that hope to all who read her story. If Anna can not only survive the horrendous events of her past, but also find healing and happiness - anyone can. I expected to be taken on an emotional journey with the Polygamist Daughter, but what I didn't expect to be was inspired. I received an advanced reader copy from Tyndale Momentum in exchange for my honest review.
AMcGrew More than 1 year ago
You will NOT want to put this down... and you may want to re-read it immediately after! Anna LeBaron (with help of Leslie Wilson) beautifully crafts her true story of growing up in a violent, polygamous cult. This is non-fiction, but it reads rich and vibrant, better than many fiction novels I've read! It's hard to write about it without revealing spoilers, but I can say that the book is riveting. It draws you in and makes you gasp, but you also revel in the child's view perspective and you truly see it from her eyes. It makes you want to research and piece together the bigger picture. I was so impressed by the author's natural optimism in the book. She takes situations that seem impossible and writes them in a way that gives hope. By the end, you really see passion shine through. You'll root for her!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As I read this book and some of the reviews about this book That said “keep a box of tissues with you”. I agree Yes I cried as I read the book of what Anna and her siblings went through. It's a story of Redemption and Healing from such a traumatic life. I have known Anna since she was 14 when she came to live with her older sister Lilian and her brother in-law Mark who I also knew as very generous caring people. I remember before I knew the family background, Lilian would often would make a public prayer request for her family members living in these dangerous situations. After her husband was gunned down she lost her will to live and within a few months took her own life leaving her 6 children behind and her Sisters Anna and Celia who were so close to them. I admire those who are determined to rise above and let God be their loving Father as Anna has said in her book. Life is a constant battle to stay above depression, anger and fears. My prayer is that Anna will keep up the good fight and through her many will want what she has found in Christ.
aadkins More than 1 year ago
Must read! The Polygamist's Daughter is a heart-wrenching memoir beautifully written by Anna LeBaron. The author bravely reveals hard truths about her childhood as the daughter of a violent polygamist cult leader. I was touched by the author's resiliency throughout her unimaginable childhood. Her risky escape and eventual healing from years of heartbreaking abuse and neglect left me feeling inspired. Block a few hours of your time to read this book. The compelling story won't allow you to stop reading once you start. Well worth it.
Adine More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, and this story! It is a story of hope and redemption. Be prepared to have your emotions taken on a ride. It is a must read!
TRyness More than 1 year ago
*SPOILER ALERT* If you pick up this title, prepare for an emotional ride as you peer over Anna’s shoulder while she delights in the half melted ice cream she found rummaging for food inside the dumpster behind the grocery store. You will feel the suspense at the claustrophobic bottom of the locked Good Will bin as she throws clothes out of the slit she crawled down, knowing her mother will drive away and leave her in there the minute they are spotted. You’ll sit next to Anna deep in the heart of Mexico on the bed of the man who believes this abandoned little girl, who has not yet reached her tenth birthday, will one day be his wife as her father promised. As horrifying as these events were, you will ultimately be encouraged by the resilience of the human spirit and the redemptive power of faith as this neglected and abused Polygamist’s Daughter, overcomes every obstacle to become a beautiful wife and mother, and most importantly, the highly favored daughter of the King of Kings.
elischulenburg More than 1 year ago
I feel like my heart was broken and stitched back together during the reading of this book. Polygamy has been much in the news in the past few years, with the popularity of the TV show Sisterwives, and the widely-anticipated raid and subsequent imprisonment of cult leader Warren Jeffs. Memoirs of life inside these religious groups have been popular over the past years, and I've read a bunch of them. But I don't think I've read one that felt so deeply personal, and yet so universally hopeful. LeBaron's story includes serious deprivations, abuse, actual murders - this is like a CSI case on steroids, and yet it's completely true. And yet the author's ultimate message is freedom - it's not a story of how bad her life was, or how sorry we should all feel for her. It's a story of redemption - of overcoming - of walking a hard road, and coming out the other side truly free. This is a hard, brutal, beautiful story. Don't miss it. Highest of recommendations. (I received an advance copy from Tyndale House in exchange for my honest opinion - but then I pre-ordered my own copy. It's that good.)
JoHouseEaton More than 1 year ago
First, please have a box of soft tissues by you before you even start to read this book! By the second paragraph of the first chapter I was hooked. I also had to remind myself that his little girl grew up and wrote this amazing book! I cared about each person, felt like I knew them and so appreciated her descriptions and even the tactile and olfactory descriptions of them and of places and things. My heart raced, my heart broke, my heart rejoiced. I took an entire journey in just the few short days of reading this book. I did not want to put it down. It was easy to read and follow and I was so invested!
Hurriedpatience More than 1 year ago
{necessary information} I received this book as a try-me from Tyndale Publishers and the opinions expressed in this blog are mine alone and not those of the author or publisher {transparency} As I am writing this blog, it is #enditmovement (
EmilyBoyMom More than 1 year ago
Powerful, moving, amazing...if you haven't read Anna's book, what are you waiting for? A tremendous story of one young woman growing up inside a polygamist cult--who happens to be the only family she's ever known. Anna's story reads like a fiction novel, but truly, real life is stranger than fiction. I was fortunate enough to win a copy of this book in a contest online...and what a win it was! I was taken by the dramatic lengths Anna took to escape her situation, from standing up to her mother, who was/is very entrenched in the beliefs of the cult, hiding out until she could safely begin a new life, and eventually finding a loved one who welcomed her into a healthy home, which was soon invaded by tragedy. Anna is a courageous woman who had to grow up faster than most, which gives her a wisdom beyond her years throughout the story. Life doesn't give us any guarantees. However, Anna found Jesus was right in the middle of her circumstances. He provided her with the knowledge of His love for her and continued to put healthy relationships in her life once she escaped. The book also delves into the struggles that remain after living a life inside a very extraordinary situation such as hers. If you're looking for a book that reads like a conversation with a friend about their unusual upbringing while sharing the good and the bad, this is the book. You will never understand someone's situation until you've walked (or read, in my case) in their shoes. I am sure this book will be one I will share with others who are interested in not only history of true events, but with those who love a triumphant story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of memoir, and this is the most powerful one that I have read in a long time. Anna LeBaron does a beautiful job of taking us through her frightening, voiceless young life with authenticity and restraint, honesty and grace---never glossing over how each experience affected her, yet never coming across as bitter. When she finally began her road to healing, I wanted to cry right along with her. I especially appreciated her ability to write truthfully about family members who had let her down in the past, without dishonoring them. In fact, I sensed her love for them. As an author who has written about painful personal experiences, I know how difficult that is to do. I have already started recommending this book to friends and will continue to.
MerryWifeofWindsor More than 1 year ago
Anna LeBaron’s "The Polygamist’s Daughter" is one of those books that grips you and refuses to let go. All throughout the story are the undeniable themes of child abuse, enslavement, religious zealotry, spousal abuse, and cult violence. These themes tend to go hand-in-hand with the firsthand accounts of former cultists. In her personal coming-of-age memoir, Ms. LeBaron, who is the daughter of Mormon fundamentalist prophet Ervil LeBaron, recounts her difficult childhood and adolescence, her eventual progression into adulthood, and what it is like to be related to her infamous father. "The Polygamist’s Daughter" commences with descriptions of her early nomadic existence, inhabiting locales such as Colorado and Mexico. Throughout her childhood she lives with complete strangers who abuse her and force her to go door-to-door to sell things, working such long hours despite her young age. Unbeknownst to Anna, she has been promised (as a wife) to Rafael, the man in whose house she lives. Although only a child, he pays special attention to her which is creepy. The children of Ervil LeBaron are hidden away to escape the authorities and all strangers are regarded suspiciously. Ms. LeBaron’s memoir is written in such vivid detail that I can recall a heartbreaking scene where Anna has a bleeding gash in her leg. The woman, a begrudging follower of Ervil who has been taking care of her and her siblings, forces Anna to walk to the store to pick up medication for her father because he has a headache. It is apparent that the needs and desires of women and children don’t rank very high in their religion. Between her horrendous treatment in Mexico and being forced to work long hours cleaning old appliances in a warehouse, to state that the author had a hellish childhood is an understatement. The scene where she met the children of Dan Jordan (Ervil LeBaron’s right-hand man) was infuriating to put it lightly. While his children lived in wealth and comfort, Anna and her siblings wore clothing from Goodwill and had to resort to dumpster diving just to survive. When she enters into adolescence, Anna makes the brave decision to hide from her family and live with her sister, Lillian. Lillian and her husband, Mark take good care of Anna, even enrolling her in a Christian school where she begins to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. For much of her childhood and adolescence, the name of Jesus Christ wasn't one that she heard often because the focus was on Ervil LeBaron, their modern-day prophet. So, when she begins her walk with Christ, it is a brand-new and rewarding experience for her. From start to finish I was positively mesmerized by Ms. LeBaron’s memoir. First I would like to say how sad it is that people still live like this in this day and age. The story was both compelling and heartbreaking in so many ways. This is a beautifully woven memoir about a woman with an enduring spirit who withstood so much and who turned out to be an amazing person in the end. Review by the Merry Wife of Windsor. I graciously received "The Polygamist's Daughter" by Anna LeBaron from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
SeasonsofGrace More than 1 year ago
This was an intriguing story of a girl who grew up in a cult I had never really heard much about. Likely, I didn't hear about this because most of the crimes this man, Ervil LeBaron, committed were during my early childhood years. Nonetheless, it was interesting to read his daughter's story. She writes about her childhood, growing up shuffled between Texas, Mexico and a few other places along with her sisters, brothers, step-siblings, and half- siblings. Her father had multiple wives and close to fifty children. Her father, Ervil LeBaron, started his own branch off the Mormon church. They practiced polygamy, pre-arranged marriages of under age children, and child labor. They justified lying, stealing, and killing as things they did to further the cause of the kingdom of God. They were not allowed to question authority without severe consequences. Most of the sister-wives and families lived in a state of poverty although they were hard working people, because all the money they earned went to the cause, or to pay lawyers and court costs to get Ervil out of jail. They were "suffering" for the "kingdom of God". They practically lived on the run, never staying in one place for long, shuffled around at night from city to city to escape the authorities. The children were taught to stay quiet if law enforcement came, always answer questions with "I don't know" and were not allowed to make friends on the occasions when they did get to go to school. It was an interesting read, told from Anna's perspective of what she remembers happening to her as a young child. Some things were extremely difficult to swallow. I found it to be very emotionally disturbing, and there were many times I would have liked to ring some necks myself. I didn't learn a whole lot about the cult itself reading through this book, it was more a personal story of Anna's life and how she came to know Christ and broke free from the cult and the lifestyle it contained. But it peaked my curiosity and I looked up further detail on the internet. It is a story of heartache, but also of hope; a reminder that God is still on the throne and through Him we can break free and live a life that is fulfilling, peaceful, and not filled with fear and anxiety. This book is very detailed and it took me a while to get through it. There were times, I honestly just needed to take a break because it would make me so mad! It is really hard to see people so blinded to the truth, so gullible, and so willing to give up everything to follow a corrupt leader in hopes of gaining heaven. I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers to read. All opinions are my own and I was not asked to review this book positively.
ErynDillion More than 1 year ago
Anna LeBaron gives us a glimpse of her childhood, one most of us couldn't imagine. Her story shares the events of her infamous family from her point of view and captures the reader. LeBaron's written word is strong, poignant and resonates with emotion. Though most readers will never associate with the polygamist lifestyle, LeBaron weaves a powerful theme that goes beyond her circumstances and I highly recommend this book.
ssmarshall More than 1 year ago
Where do I start? Anna's story falls into the category of truth is stranger than fiction. Her memoir is an emotionally poignant story of a childhood no one should have to endure, a childhood of fear, neglect, and abuse. It beautifully illustrates the atrocities and abuses so prevalent in the polygamist life. Her tenacity, resilience, and perseverance outweigh and overcome the litany of abuse and abandonment on levels. I highly recommend her memoir - its words will haunt you well after you've put the book down, with the kind of exhale that accompanies the breath you didn't know you were holding. Thank you for having the courage, strength of heart and character, and will to pen your story of both struggles beyond imagine and ultimately well-deserved joy. Fans of true crime, memoirs, and those with an interest in understanding the polygamist culture will want to pick up a copy of this book. For readers who love emotionally raw narratives and character development, this book will resonate deeply.
Brick More than 1 year ago
Full disclosure: I received a free ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Anna is one of the many children of the polygamist cult leader, Ervil LeBaron. The instructions that the wives and children had to follow are beyond our comprehension. Having to live in blind devotion because of your parents' belief systems and bullying causes much anguish. Anna had to sell baked good and dumpster dive. She also could have easily been a child bride of the one the older cult members. Fortunately, there were extended family members who helped Anna escape from the cult before much worse things could have happened to her. The book is so well written that you feel you are right there with little Anna and teen-age Anna, and you want to save her. The stories continue with healing and devoted family and friends. Recommended for public libraries.
loriyoung More than 1 year ago
Anna LeBaron, the daughter of a polygamist cult leader Ervil LeBaron, shares her remarkable story in a memoir being released March 21, 2017. The author tells the story through a young girls eyes. It takes incredible courage to tell such a candid story like the one Anna pours out over every page. You are instantly transported into her life and living out every detail, as though you were right there with her. Being a daughter in a family of over 50 children, Anna manages to tell her story of a child most could never imagine. I know I couldn't. I was drawn in deeply by the way she shared her story full of grace, through a positive lens, with a touch humor that kept her going. In a story full of fear and despair, you will find such a sense of hope and togetherness. Her relationship with her siblings was beautiful. Her words bring such imagery with every page and chapter. At times, it's almost too much to take in. I found myself wanting to reach out and hug her, comfort her, and encourage her as a friend. And as a mother, I wanted to rescue and protect her. This memoir allows you to feel the gamete of emotions. The content is at times, very heavy and heart wrenching. It's absolutely captivating and haunting to read what in her daily life she had to endure. She keeps a delicate balance of giving just enough detail, while keeping privacy of others in tact. This book reads like it was meant for the movie screen. All the lies, always on the move, running & hiding, police and FBI raids, murders... I wanted it to be fiction. At times, I didn't want to read on because of the hurt and anger I felt. However, I knew that stories like this only get told when immense healing has been done on the inside. I'm so grateful she allowed us in. Anna shows us that no matter our earthly father, that there is a Father who we "don't have to work to be good enough, or perform at impossible standards." She says, "He accepted me because of what Jesus had done for me. Finally, I accepted that the Cross of Christ was enough. I sat there overcome by His deep love for me." This is truly a must read. You will explore areas of your heart and find grace hidden in the daily you never thought to open your eyes too. I received an Advanced Readers Copy in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Polygamist's Daughter is a heart wrenching story of betrayal, loss, and ultimate redemption told mostly through the eyes of a little girl missing her mama and longing for approval from her Important Daddy. What she doesn't understand is that her father is the head of a twisted cult, full of paranoia and murderous rage. It is a hard read, but an important one. Anna LeBaron tells her story with little sentimentality, and a great deal of warmth and love. She draws you into her history with the very first sentence: "At age nine, I had forty-nine siblings." From that point on she chronicles a childhood on the run. From Dallas to Denver to Veracruz, Mexico and back to the states. Her existence was one of deprivation, child labor, and separation from her mom and closest siblings, yet she managed to retain a sense of optimism and hopefulness. As a teenager, she finally managed to escaped the cult and in the process discovered the true love of her Heavenly Father. In the end, The Polygamist's Daughter is a story of forgiveness, redemption and love. I highly recommend it! Note: I received an Advance Reader Copy from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.