In Hidden Wives we meet two sisters (Sara-15 and Rachel-16) who are members of a polygamist sect in Utah. The Blood of the Lamb community believes that Celestial Marriage is a requirement to enter the kingdom of God. Three wives is the minimum allowed to stand before God's presence. In order to marry, a man must receive a "testament" of marriage for a particular girl. This testament is then brought before the prophet (who is directly in contact with God), who then prays and eventually grants or denies the petition.
Rachel and Sara live in such a household. Their father has four wives with a ton of children hanging underfoot. The girls being the older ones in the group are actually quite old when it comes to marriage since most girls in the community marry anywhere from 12 to 14 years of age (in some cases even younger than that). So it is not a surprise when they, along with their father, are called before the prophet to discuss their lack of husband. Sara is quickly given leave to marry her uncle as his fifth wife, but things are not that easy for Rachel. See Rachel is a very beautiful girl and 16 men have all had testimonies about her putting the prophet in a tight spot.
Sara, who has been doubting their beliefs, becomes even more convinced that all is not right with their community when a new family joins the cult. This new family is wealthy and they bring money along with a construction company to help build a new school for the many children in the community along with new homes for the prophet and his apostles. This new family also has a young son - Luke has no faith in the beliefs of the Blood of the Lamb and begins to tell the girls all that is wrong with the prophet, the high birth defects among their babies, the young girls being forced to marry men who can well be their grandfathers and, in some cases, their great-grandfathers. His plans are to escape and Sara is more than willing to do the same - especially since on more than one occasion she has realized that women are expendable and easily replaced amongst their cult. But Rachel is another story - she readily believes anything the prophet says and will follow him blindly. Sara knows that the only way to save herself and her sister is to escape, even if it means leaving their family and the only life they've ever known behind - but she'll have to convince Rachel of this... and hope that she can accomplish it before it's too late.
Polygamy?! Why is it that I am so intrigued by this subject?
And considering the dark nature of this book I can't help but want to gush about it to everyone. Because yes, it is that good.
The Claire Avery team (sisters who use the pseudonym) have accurately portrayed the daily lives of these two young girls who have been brought up in a household with extreme religious beliefs. You can clearly tell how much research was done in order to come up with such a detailed story. Not only was the story riveting, but I found myself engrossed by how much I learned from it.
I loved reading the different perspectives of both girls. Sara with her doubts, her love of learning, books, education and Rachel, who was willing to accept the word of the prophet blindly and faithfully and anything differently was considered blasphemy.
There were so many different subjects touched upon in this story and I do want to mention that this is not a book for the faint of heart. The lives that these girls live are not happy one's. There is abuse (mental, physical, sexual and verbal), violence, racism, incest and, of course, religion.
I have to say that I could not put this book down - I lost sleep over it on a work night and I am not complaining either. I found myself coiled tightly, just waiting to see what would happen next. It was that suspenseful. I needed to know what would happen to Sara, Rachel, Luke and Irvin. I was rooting for them from the start and I just could not bother to take a break ... and sleep (the horror!) - without seeing the whole thing through. I went through so many emotions reading it - sadness, outrage, heartbreak, hope, joy. An amazing, thought-provoking and powerful story. One that will stay with you long after you are done with it. Highly recommended.
About the author:
To learn more about who "Claire Avery" is, please visit the blog and website. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.
This book was provided for review by: