Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wives and Sisters by Natalie Collins

Title: Wives and Sisters

Author: Natalie Collins

Genre: Women Lit

Summary: A renounced Mormon struggles to find closure to the horrific crimes she has been subject to and the Mormon Church could have prevented.

The Take-Away: Many of the rumors about the Mormon church make it into this novel and are always balanced with the someone saying "that's not the church, that's just the person." While it seems like a contradiction, having experienced that same phenomenon in the church of my youth, I understood how people think that way.

The main character, Allison Jensen, is six when she first realizes that God will not always protect her. She fears her baptism, which will occur at age 8, because she will be held accountable for all of her sins. A huge responsibility for anyone, but especially for one whose father believes in punishing his children with a belt across their rear. Her mother intercedes, but only to receive the punishment herself.

When her best friend is kidnapped before her eyes, Allison begins to doubt what is being taught in her Mormon home. Her questions deepen as she grows older, but she never truly breaks free of the church. Instead she stays close by and tries to find the truth about what happened when she was six. While filling in the missing memories, she is raped. Allison correctly believes that it is connected to her searching and resolves to uncover what the church has been protecting.

The narrative is so engaging and so involving, that I really had difficulty remembering that it was fiction and not a quasi-autobiography. I cared so deeply about the character that each set-back brought pain to me, and occasionally, tears to my eyes. When the mystery is solved, I felt the same since of emptiness that Allison must have felt realizing that she could move on.

Recommendation: It's a dark, gloomy, but eye-opening reading. Well worth the time.

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