Monday, November 30, 2009

The 19th Wife

I want to preface this book review by giving a little background. There are a lot of places I look when deciding on what book to read next. And constantly, it seems, I have a stack of books on my dresser in order of what to read next. One place I am perpetually looking for reading ideas is through David's mother. She is a former teacher/special education librarian. So, not only is she an awesome cook and baker, she reads constantly. Kinda like me. Are you starting to see how we get along so well? She's also obsessed with audiobooks...but, rather than listen to them in the car, she listens to hers while she's quilting and cooking. We're both awesome multi-taskers. Haha, or something. Anyway! Donna (that's her name if I haven't mentioned it before) belongs to a book club and this was their book for one meeting. I have to admit that I was a little sheepish about reading a book about polygamy. I mean, seriously? Totally not my thing. I remember Donna telling me that it really gave her insight to how a polygamous family lives and functions...and I have to agree. This book is extremely insightful. Also, it was a New York Times Bestseller...and once you read it you'll know why!

First off, I want to say this book kind of confused me at first. I couldn't tell what was going on because it jumps back and forth between two stories. One story is a fictional story about a modern day murder in a polygamous family (the 19th wife is the accused). The second story is the basic history of the Church of Latter Day Saints/Mormon Church, how the church morphs and splits and who the infamous "19th Wife" is, Ann Eliza Young, and her story. Once I had figured this out, I decided I liked the modern day story best. It had a little more action, wasn't quite so dry and was written more like a novel. Then, about halfway through the book I changed my mind. The true story was really good too! However, when I say true, I want to clarify something. In the epilogue of this book the author explains that this book is truly fictional, while Ann Eliza Young and her story are true. The reason he wants to stress this is because the society in which she lived her life is very secretive. Even today if you want to try and write a nonfiction book about this type of society, you will be met with ill discourse and, quite probably, be ran out of town. This, in fact, happened to the author! He even writes a parallel story that occurs to the fictional character in the book. So! That being said, this is a kinda-nonfiction book...if you can say that. The premise of the true story is correct, but Mr. Ebershoff had to fill in cracks in the story so that it all meshes together into a full story and makes sense.

One thing I want to say about this book you ever have those books where you feel like it's taking you forever to get through it? This was one of those books for me. And it's not because it's unexciting or slow because I couldn't hardly put it down once I was halfway through! But, this book isn't small, my copy is 507 pages and it's not the size of a normal paperback or hardback-like the New Moon I read over the weekend in less than a 36 hour period. So, don't expect to just whip on through this book. However, if you want a good book for a long road trip or even one that you don't mind reading for a while, I highly recommend it! Like I said earlier in this post, very insightful and a great read!

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