I don’t always get around to reading books right when they come out. I might be really good at BUYING them when they come out, but then they sit on my “To Be Read” shelf waiting sometimes years for me to return. (Yes, I have a bookshelf that is FULL of nothing but books that are waiting to be read. It’s an ever growing pile that I have no expectation of ever completing.)
THE SOUND OF GRAVEL came out in 2016. I can’t remember what first put it on my reading radar, but there’s a good chance that it was Jen Hatmaker’s podcast, “For the Love.” Back in September of 2017 she had the author, Ruth Wariner and her cousin Anna LeBaron who is also an author come and speak about their experiences growing up in a polygamist colony in Mexico. I love Jen and trust her in all things so I quickly put both on my TBR list, starting with THE SOUND OF GRAVEL first.
“Ruth Wariner was the thirty-ninth of her father’s forty-two children. Growing up on a farm in rural Mexico, where authorities turned a blind eye to the practices of her community, Ruth lives in a ramshackle house without indoor plumbing or electricity. At church, preachers teach that God will punish the wicked by destroying the world and that women can only ascend to Heaven by entering into polygamous marriages and giving birth to as many children as possible. After Ruth’s father—the man who had been the founding prophet of the colony—is brutally murdered by his brother in a bid for church power, her mother remarries, becoming the second wife of another faithful congregant.
In need of government assistance and supplemental income, Ruth and her siblings are carted back and forth between Mexico and the United States, where her mother collects welfare and her stepfather works a variety of odd jobs. Ruth comes to love the time she spends in the States, realizing that perhaps the community into which she was born is not the right one for her. As Ruth begins to doubt her family’s beliefs and question her mother’s choices, she struggles to balance her fierce love for her siblings with her determination to forge a better life for herself.” ~from Goodreads
This memoir is filled with dark shadows of evil. Evil rooted in righteousness, carelessness, ignorance, and neglect. At times, Ruth Wariner’s memoir, THE SOUND OF GRAVEL, about growing up in a polygamist community in rural Mexico seems unbelievable. People can’t possibly live this way! Parents can’t possibly make these choices! Oh, but they do. And those who survive and are resilient enough to tell the story allowing us a special peek inside their amazing journey.
The only light that breaks through the darkness of this story comes from the children, not the adults. The children’s love for one another and their will to survive is what compels you to keep reading. And in the end, they are their own saviors.
If you are a fan of memoirs, this isn’t one to be missed.
The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
Published by Flatiron Books, January 2016
Where I read: I don’t even remember because I was too engrossed in the story to notice.
Stephenie’s Goodreads Rating: 4 out of 5 stars