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Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife    by Irene Spencer order for
Shattered Dreams
by Irene Spencer
Order:  USA  Can
Center Street, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Jessica Weaver

While many Americans were living the Cleaver lifestyle in the 1950s, with a working father, a stay-at-home mother, and two or three children, Irene LeBaron was a teenaged bride - the second wife of a fundamentalist Mormon, relocated to a Mormon community in Mexico, and instructed to bear children. All of this would be for her future glory in a celestial kingdom, where her husband would have even more wives and she would tend to more children.

Raised in a polygamous Mormon family, Irene was told from the time she was young that the Principle of polygamy was the only way to bring glory to herself. When she questioned the basics of Mormonism, she was shut down and told to just believe without question. So despite being madly in love with a non-devout Mormon, she eloped with Verlan LeBaron at age sixteen and moved to Mexico to be his second wife and a sister-wife to her half sister, Charlotte. From the beginning of the marriage, Irene realized she wasn't cut out to be a plural wife; as one of ten wives twenty-eight years later, she finally escaped the lifestyle.

The memoir is intriguing because of the subject matter, but the writing is very train-of-thought and the author seems to feel the need to describe every detail of her entire life. There are no real themes that carry throughout the text, which makes it difficult to follow along and stay with the narrative. The topic, however, is fascinating enough to keep you with it until the end.

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