Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the authors for review. The views expressed here are honest and are in no way influenced by the authors or the publishers.
Synopsis via Goodreads
Fifteen-year-old Sara and her beautiful sister, Rachel, are too young to legally drive a car—but are approaching spinsterhood in Utah’s secret Blood of the Lamb polygamist community. Having long since reached the “age of preparedness,” they will soon be married off to much older men selected by the hidden sect’s revered Prophet. As Sara, chosen to become her uncle’s fifth wife, grows more distraught over her impending incestuous marriage, she begins to scrutinize the faith she has followed blindly her entire life. But for Rachel, who will be married to one of the many powerful community leaders vying for her hand, disobeying the Prophet means eternal damnation. Her friendship with the newest member of the community, the young and handsome Luke, starts as an attempt to save his agnostic soul, but ends with the pair falling helplessly in love. When Rachel is forbidden to see him, her absolute faith in the Prophet is severely tested. When Rachel’s future husband is finally announced, violence erupts, and the girls must find the strength to escape the only life they have ever known…before it’s too late.
Polygamy has never been more popular than in this present century. From the arrest of polygamist leaders like Warren Jeffs to the well known Showtime miniseries Big Love, the tenets of Polygamy as well as its ugly is being exposed to the world. Enter the storytelling duo of Michelle and Marie who are offering their interpretation on Polygamy in their debut novel Hidden Wives. Hidden Wives is the story of two sisters, living in the Principle and subsequently finding freedom by running away. The story is heart wrenching and emotional and it places the Principle on a cross to be crucified by the readers. Despite the fact that I enjoyed the story, it did miss a certain something to make the story truly great.
Some of the major themes which ironically are the criticism leveled against Polygamy were very evident in the book. Child marriages, exploitation, abuse (sexual and verbal), racism and segregation; the list goes on and on. In telling the story of Rachel and Sara, Avery made sure that no element of the Principle was glossed over or spared. This tactic definitely helped the reader to empathize with the characters and made you more emotionally invested in the story.
Another bonus was the element of suspense and drama that served to elevate the story so much so that I found it difficult to put this book down. Many of the times that I read this book, I was actually on one of my long, traffic filled trips to work and in that regards it was pretty difficult for me to stop reading and then come back to it later in the day. It wasn’t so much about the choice of words but rather the compelling scenarios that the author created for the characters. You saw firsthand the effects of polygamy on the girls and as the reader I couldn’t help but get emotional.
Having said all of that, I did raise in my thesis that Hidden Wives was just a few short lines from being great. My issue with the story is the fact that most of the buildup or the development of the story was quite fleeting. The authors didn’t spend much time telling me why I should be angry or be sad or show concern for the characters in the story. In fact as a result of the choice of words I felt like I was being forced to feel a certain way without even knowing why. These short comings persisted 8 chapters into the story until we meet Luke and his family and the story kicks into first gear. Then later on in the story the book became more about advocacy. While this aspect was an ok addition to the book, advocacy tends to bore the readers especially if the material is mostly fictious. Plus if this was the intention of the authors then I would have much prefer to have that aspect play a secondary role to the story and not take it over entirely.
If you can look past the negatives then Hidden Wives should definitely be in your library. It has a great storyline with just enough drama and suspense to keep you invested in how the story turns out.