Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hidden Wives

Hidden Wives is a novel about two sisters coming of age in a polygamous cult in America. The book outlines the hardships they face at a crucial moment in their lives, and how these situations influence their decision about staying in their community to marry the men chosen for them, or to escape.

Although the author based many of the issues such as underage marriage, lack of education, and abuse on real situations, it was as if she chose all the shocking elements known about such groups to write about, and tried to cram them all into the story.

The characters needed more development. Rachel and Luke love each other. Why? They just met at the beginning of the book. Rachel barely speaks to him. There seems to be a mutual physical attraction. Why are we suppose to think their love conquers all, if all we know about their love is how attractive they find each other? Providing more depth would help the readers care when they are overwhelmed with the horrifying experiences of the characters. They won't feel it is just more drama for the story, they will identify with the characters, and feel outraged that such things really do happen.

The author grew up in a fundamentalist religious group, and feels passionate about the topic. The point of her book was to show why America shouldn't allow groups to do whatever they want under the guise of religious freedom. Abuses wherever they happen should not be tolerated. I agree what happens in some of these groups is horrible, and the public should be made aware of them. I think that the author should have tried to develop her story more using some of the real scenarios, but maybe not all. She could have included a note about the research she did for the book, and where you could read more about this topic in a nonfiction setting, instead of trying to put everything in this book.

I would recommend reading other books on this topic if you are interested. Caroline Jessop's Escape is her personal account of what happened to her in such a group, and is gripping.


  1. I agree that such groups shouldn't be allowed to do _whatever_ they want. I'm not certain how much freedom they should be allowed though.

    Did one of the sisters in the book decide to stay? If so, did the author portray it as an unmitigated mistake, or did she point out reasons on both sides?

    1. No, both left. One seemed likely to stay, but she was half convinced half forced to leave. The author showed the emotional turmoil that resulted for this sister, but she recovered rather quickly and suddenly from it, which sort of bothered me. I guess it is possible it is addressed more in the next book, but it seemed neatly tied up in this book.

      The main reason given for the girl wanting to stay was that she was brainwashed.