No matter how much I learn about the FLDS, every book brings new surprises. This one in particular, because it's not just one survivor's story, it's also the story of her tireless work to help other women and children escape lives of polygamous and abuse. One of the girls Flora Jessop rescued, first from the FLDS and then from the government agencies who insisted on returning her to her parents, was Fawn Broadbent. Fawn and her friend, Fawn Holm, ran away at the age of 15 to escape being married. One was promised to a first cousin, a common practice in Colorado City (Flora herself was married to a 19 year old first cousin at the age of 16), and the other to a man twice her age who had other wives and whom she hated. Fawn Broadbent's mother, Joyce, was interviewed for a National Geographic cover story in 2010 and was portrayed as an average, happy, loving mother who delighted in her lifestyle. No mention was made of her daughter or the many court battles that had finally resulted in her freedom. It was that Nat Geo article that made me pursue the issue more fully, as the writer painted an extremely positive picture of life in a polygamous cult. Perhaps the crew didn't interview anyone without a member of the "priesthood" present. Or maybe they just weren't aware of or interested in how deeply lifelong brainwashing can affect a person's POV.
Anyway, despite a rough beginning (some of Jessop's accounts of her own childhood abuse read too much like kiddy porn, but as I read I grew to understand her lack of objectivity on the matter), it became an excellent account of life among the FLDS and how unbelievably hard it is to escape. Even those who succeed too often give up and go back due to a total lack of understanding about the outside world, which they're taught from birth is purely evil. Because the girls often leave school between the ages of 10 and 13 and are immediately married off and impregnated, their emotional and psychological development stops, making it all but impossible to take up growing and learning as adults on the outside. That makes it all the more incredible that Jessop is able to do the work she does, as well as writing such a smart and readable book as this.