Friday, June 27, 2008

Finishing "Escape"

-- Miranda

Remember how I posted a little chapter-by-chapter thing for the first part of Escape? That was nice and all, but I'm finished with the book now and I don't feel like back tracking to tell you what happened, chapter-by-chapter. Also, the chapters are pretty short, so it would take forever to go through them all.

Basically the book tells the story of Carolyn Jessop's entire life, from being born into the FLDS to becoming the fourth wife of a fifty-year-old man (Carolyn was 18) to her escape from the cult with her eight children and the legal battle she waged. Carolyn, I believe, is the first woman to ever escape the FLDS with all of her children and win custody over the children. Carolyn's husband was a very powerful man in the FLDS, and no one believed that she stood a chance.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is Carolyn's explanations about how Warren Jeffs came to take over the FLDS. It's interesting to see things from her perspective: She sees him as a power-hungry maniac who manipulates facts to gain complete control over the cult. It's also interesting that, as she mentions periodically throughout the book, she didn't loose her faith in the religion until towards the end. Despite the fact that she always hated her husband and that he was physically and severely emotionally abusive, she for years believed that their marriage was ordained by the prophet.

Going into it I knew I was going to be reading some bat-shit craziness about the cult. It was some of the smaller details that were really the most affecting. Showing affection for your children is frowned upon. When the other children began making fun of her oldest child whenever she hugged or kissed him, she stopped. When she left the cult she had to relearn to show affection for her eight children. Another thing I hadn't really anticipated was the way sex was used in the marriage. It's hard to understand without reading the book and getting a handle on the sexual politics within a plural marriage, but a wife who does not sleep with her husband has less power than the other wives. Even though she hated her husband, Carolyn kept sleeping with him. She did this mostly to protect her children. While she was on her husband's good side, the other wives and children wouldn't harm her kids. It's really fucked up.

Anyway, I think it's a good story and it's competently written. Four out of Five stars. Solid B.

((Also, it comes to my attention that Katherine Heigl is going to star in and produce the film version of this book. I'm thinking it's not a good idea. I'm a little wary of KH since she dumped on the writers of her show. Sure Grey's was a bit of a slump this season, but did she have to be such a bitch about it. Then again, according to the rumor mill, she's a bitch in general.

If you asked me, the best idea for this book would be to break it down into a 2 part miniseries, probably Lifetime. The first part would be about her abusive marriage, the second about her escape and legal battle. One of the sub-genres of Lifetime is the "Mother takes Law into own hands after Child is wronged" and this sort of fits the profile. There's just so much to tell in the story, I'm not sure a Katherine Heigl movie could do it justice.))

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