Anna LeBaron grew up in a fundamentalist Mormon cult and at the age of nine she was shipped off to Mexico to audition to be the wife of one of her father’s church members. At the time she barely knew her own father and when he comes to visit, she spends lots of time observing him while he writes out long messages supposedly from God.
She misses living with her mother and wonders when she will see her again, but she is told they must sacrifice for God’s work. Despite modest dressing and fears about worldly entertainment and music, the cult she is growing up in rarely speaks of Jesus, so despite all her trials, Anna barely knows to call on Jesus for help. It’s seems the god in this cult is the cult leader, but life is about to change for Anna in several ways and the twists and turns will take her to the edge of what faith she has.
LeBaron’s childhood was not one of comfort and security, but of child labor and neglect. I can’t imagine a more narcissistic father than one who feels he gets direct messages from God and neglects his children. And to be honest even though her mother was persuaded, her absence in young Anna’s life is sadly neglectful. As with other memoirs I have read from those who escaped a fundamentalist Mormon cult, it seems the mothers are often dealing with their own stress and abuse to the point of not seeing the needs of their children.
This story has several twists and turns that I was not expecting. I kept that out of the review so you can read it yourself. Despite all the things that happened to her, Anna LeBaron retains her optimistic and resilient spirit. As she grows and decides to take her life into her own hands, she faces even more devastating obstacles including murder, but she is a true survivor and retains her heart of compassion regardless of what others have done.
This story is not a cry for pity. LeBaron’s matter of fact storytelling seems to assume life just is what it is, and we all have choices in this life. Some of her family members made different choices, but Anna LeBaron makes lemonade out of the lemons life has thrown at her.
I received this book as an advance reader copy from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review. It came during the busy holidays, but I couldn’t put it down and finished it two days. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in true stories of survival.