Thursday, June 5, 2008

Escape by Carolyn Jessop

-- by Miranda

Remember a few weeks ago when every news show was talking about that crazy polygamist cult and the authorities took away all the children on accusations of child abuse? If you don't remember this, you obviously don't watch CNN or read People Magazine. Get some culture, yo.

Anyway, this book is the memoir of Carolyn Jessop, a woman who escaped the cult with her 8 children. I'm a few chapters in and so far it's pretty fascinating.

(On a related note, I was watching Without A Trace last night and part of the episode involved the missing girl joining and then escaping from a cult. Anybody else see that episode? It was pretty good.)

Here's a chapter by chapter summary of what I've read so far:

Acknowledgements

Pretty standard fare here, various thank yous to people who helped her escape and write the book. My favorite line in the acknowledgements section is "The FLDS is constructed on a scaffolding of lies."

Preface: The Choice was Freedom or Fear

The preface is a brief description of how Carolyn and her children escaped the FLDS compound on April 21, 2003. It's actually a fairly detailed account, I wonder if she'll go into it even further later on in the book.

Ch 1: Early Childhood

As the chapter heading suggests, this chapter covers the early years of Carolyn's childhood. Her family had a brief happy time while living in Salt Lake City, before moving to the polygamist camp. Carolyn and her siblings were beaten almost every day by their mother, which is not unusual for this "religion." Carolyn's Grandmother spews FLDS propaganda that the children eat up as if she were telling them normal bed-time stories.

Ch 2: Child's Play

Apparently the most funnest game for the children in the compoud was "Apocalypse." It's a very complicated version of hide-and-go-seek, and the losers burn in hell. Or something. The children behave like children, and get beaten some more. The kids have a strange system to manipulate the adults into not beating them so hard. It involves a lot of screaming.

Ch 3: School Days

Carolyn's experiences at school are unusual. They are taught "facts" like the fact that dinosaurs never existed. The principal beats the crap out of his mentally challenged son, in front of everyone. In fact, the principal smacks around an entire classroom of young children and only gets a warning from the school board. Did I mention that the school is run by the FLDS? You probably figured that. Carolyn also becomes so frightened of her bus driver that she walks to and from school, about a mile each way.

Ch 4: New Wife, New Mother

Carolyn's cousin (her mother's niece), Rosie, becomes her father's second wife. Her father really likes Rosie, which eases some of the tension in the house, but Carolyn's mother's jealousy keeps things mighty unpleasant. Rosie has a nursing degree, making her one of the few women in the cult with a college education and a real job. Carolyn, who is eager to learn, looks up to Rosie because she sees the ways her education has given her freedoms. There's also some sort of divide in the cult, and people with opposing viewpoints refuse to speak or to let their families associate with one another. It's very strange. By now Carolyn has reached high school, but she has to take correspondence courses because the high school is run by FLDS members on the opposite side of the divide.

Ch 5: Linda's Flight to Freedom

Carolyn's older sister Linda escapes from the community with her friend Claudel. Carolyn sees how this shames her family and vows that she will never disgrace her father or her family by fleeing.

I'm still only halfway through chapter 5. I'll write more when I get more time to read.

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