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Virtual Book Club: Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer

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Shattered Dreams by Irene Spencer is a memoir from the author's first marriage--to a polygamous husband who had 10 wives. It is a heartbreaking book, as one can imagine, and not the first I've read about this subject. At just under 400 pages, it is a big book, but a very quick read, and once I actually had the time to sit down and really get into it, I quickly finished 250 pages in 2 days!
Young Irene is only 16 years old when she runs off to marry a man named Verlan LeBaron (from the LeBaron clan of Time Magazine polygamy 'fame') and become his second wife. Throughout the 28 years married to him, she endured extreme poverty, utter physical and mental exhaustion as a wife & mother caring for 13 kids (and often times, other wives' kids), and severe loneliness and isolation.
Her husband only lived to his early fifties, but in his 30+ years of being married to 10 different women, he sired 59 children and moved his family(ies) all over Mexico, Central America, and the Southwest of the USA many times to flee persecution and governmental oversight.
This was a very fascinating book into the life of a woman who has to share her husband, and give up everything to "live the Principle" (to be exalted in the afterlife, they were to help their husbands marry & sire as many children as possible in order to populate their own planets), and shows just how far illusions and false teachings can go. It was at times frightening and disheartening to know there are still people stuck in this mind game of trying to pay for their sins of jealousy and sacrifice everything--even their sanity--in order to gain 'godhood' in the afterlife. Mrs. Spencer ends her book with her epilogue; telling the reader she couldn't believe what a huge lie it all was--that someone already died to save us from our sins and the grace He gave was freely given. A very sad tale, but like all great stories, a wonderful ending.
Mrs. Spencer's newest book was just out in August of this year, Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement.
Have you read this and if so, what did you think?

Our next read for Book Club is Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.
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Stay tuned for part 3 of our Alternative Educational Series. Post 1 & 2.

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