Book Review: Breaking Free
Happy Monday friend! How are you doing? I’ve been super busy of late, getting my freelance business off the ground and also thinking about restarting a wedding blog with a friend!
Now onto the book! Here’s the official blurb:
Born into the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Rachel Jeffs was raised in a strict patriarchal culture defined by subordinate sister wives and men they must obey. No one in this radical splinter sect of the Mormon Church was more powerful or terrifying than its leader Warren Jeffs—Rachel’s father.
Living outside mainstream Mormonism and federal law, Jeffs arranged marriages between underage girls and middle-aged and elderly members of his congregation. In 2006, he gained international notoriety when the FBI placed him on its Ten Most Wanted List. Though he is serving a life sentence for child sexual assault, Jeffs’ iron grip on the church remains firm, and his edicts to his followers increasingly restrictive and bizarre.
In Breaking Free, Rachel blows the lid off this taciturn community made famous by John Krakauer’s bestselling Under the Banner of Heaven to offer a harrowing look at her life with Warren Jeffs, and the years of physical and emotional abuse she suffered. Sexually assaulted, compelled into an arranged polygamous marriage, locked away in “houses of hiding” as punishment for perceived transgressions, and physically separated from her children, Rachel, Jeffs’ first plural daughter by his second of more than fifty wives, eventually found the courage to leave the church in 2015.
As someone who has Mormon friends (and has watched far too many episodes of Sister Wives), I’ll be honest and say I thought I was pretty well versed in the FLDS Church, but I was wrong. Rachel’s book was such an eye-opener, in so many ways. The myriad of ways in which Warren Jeffs brainwashes and manipulates the members of that church is horrendous and despicable. But despite that, Rachel’s story is one of hope.
The book is concise, well written and easy to read. If you are unfamiliar with the LDS Church, then you may need to look up what a few things mean (Priesthood blessing comes to mind) but it’s meant to be read by everyone. My overwhelming feeling for Rachel throughout the book was sorrow. Sorrow at how her father treated not only her but also his wives and children; sorrow at how she and her children were treated by her sister wives for most of the book; and sorrow at how often she was separated from her children as punishment. Now, I’m all for religious freedom. If you believe in plural marriage and want to live it, you are a better person than I. But seeing how poorly the men, women and children of the FLDS Church have been treated appalls me, and I hope that the reign of terror perpetrated by Warren Jeffs upon those who believe in him shall soon come to an end.
If you’ve ever wondered what life inside the FLDS Church is like – and how Rachel escaped, please read this book.
Have you read Rachel’s story? What did you think? Any other recommendations?