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Audible Torn by God: A Family's Struggle with PolygamyAuthor Zoe Murdock –

When the beliefs you ve been brought up with don t seem like they re going to get you where you should be, what are you going to do If one set of beliefs conflict with another, how do you choose between them How far will you go to live commandments To the point of ignoring your family How are you going to make up your mind what to do The story s narrator, Bethy, decidesI was going to learn as much as I could about everything I was going to listen carefully but then I would decide the truth for myself Lots of book blurbs say this is about polygamy It s not Polygamy is only a fear which can drive and show conflicts within a belief system. Torn by God A Family s Struggle with Polygamy is a family drama that takes place in 1959 in a small Mormon town in Utah It chronicles the devastation brought upon the Sterling family when the father has a vision which leads him to become involved with a local polygamist group run by a self serving fundamentalist The father comes to believe that the Mormon Church never should have rescinded polygamy Even though the practice is now against the law and grounds for excommunication, he feels it is something God demands of him Twelve year old Beth watches helplessly as her mother sinks into depression and illness When her father leaves town to build a church for the polygamists, the family is cast off by the Mormon community and it is up to Beth to take care of her sick mother and her little brother The story delves deep into the controversial association between mainstream Mormons and fundamentalist off shoot groups such as those led by Warren Jeffs It explores the power of indoctrination and religious control It is a story inspired by true events.Read newspaper interviews and listen to a radio podcast at Beth Sterling, at 13, is witness to her father, who brightly lit by sunlight through a break in the clouds, is standing naked in the midst of a rushing stream, while looking heavenward and appearing to be speaking to someone Although Beth cannot see this being, shortly after leaving the creek the father divulges to his daughter that he has received a revelation from God Thus begins the uninvited change of life that leads Beth and her family to a brief but intense and disastrous brush with polygamy, paving the way for the small town with its dominant religion, to not just exclude but nearly forget about this family as different family members experience bullying by classmates, severe depression, near starvation, abandonment and atheism Thankfully Beth has a friend and a teacher who come to her aid when most needed, turning the father away from a path of complete destruction of the family.This book was a very personal read for me even though there are few likenesses to the life of the protagonist, 12 year old, Beth, and to my life growing up I feel sorry that Beth could not find in her Mormon community one member of the Church living their religion home teachers, visiting teachers, friends in the ward , non judgingly being there for her as a loving presence Hopefully the author, who based this on a real life story, did have some of that but perhaps has forgotten it in the obvious struggle she had growing up in this small one religion town, whose religion was colored by the one abusive and self serving excommunicated member of this faith, and the one mean girl who happened to also be the Bishop s daughter.The difficulty of reading a fictional reading of a real event is that the reader then has no idea what, if any, is truth, or is that not the author s intent I hope the author has found some redemption for herself through writing this novel. Another book of halves for me Two halves, totally opposite.The first half of this book is too little Nothing happens, no story progression, no real character development We watch the father slowly start to become involved with these polygamists butnothing comes of it They waffle around, everyone argues, they make up Then they have the exact same argument about thirty times I really, really struggled to continue reading the book up to that point.The second half is too much It s like the author suddenly realized they hadn t actually told a story at all and they needed to cram it all into the last little bit Also I m not entirely sure how old Beth is supposed to be, my guess is eleven or twelve based on what grade she s in But there is so much navel gazing using words and ideas that I m pretty sure no actual eleven year old would have that it s insane Especially not an eleven year old that thinks you can get pregnant from sitting on a toilet seat that a boy has peed on Beth goes back and forth between being so incredibly childlike that she s almost younger than she s meant to beand then talking and acting like a mid twenties woman I just didn t buy anything about the story I didn t care about any of the characters because none of them seemed real They were all the extremes of what a normal person like them would be I suppose also to be fair, I m an atheist and so literally all of this would have sounded like nonsense to me anyway BUT The ridiculous characters and unreliable personalities didn t help.So I guess I would say better than 2 stars but not quite 3 But bumping it up the half a star for the kid that hits the polygamist in the face with a stick Half a star for you, kiddo. Based On True Events, Torn By God Is A Riveting Family Drama That Takes Place In In A Small Mormon Town In Utah It Chronicles The Devastation Brought Upon The Sterling Family When The Father Has A Vision Which Leads Him To Become Involved With A Local Polygamist Group Run By A Self Serving Fundamentalist Named Brother Reuben Under The Influence Of This Group, The Father Comes To Believe That The Mormon Church Never Should Have Rescinded Polygamy He Knows That The Practice Is Against The Law And Grounds For Excommunication, But He Feels It Is Something God Demands Of Him Twelve Year Old Beth Watches Helplessly As Her Father Becomes Increasingly Involved With The Polygamists And Her Mother Sinks Into Depression And Illness Even Beth Is Not Safe From Brother Reuben With His Piercing Eyes And Suggestive Sexual Remarks When Her Father Leaves Home To Build A Church For The Polygamists, The Family Is Cast Off By The Mormon Community It Is Up To Beth To Take Care Of Her Sick Mother And Her Little Brother, Mikey This Story Delves Deep Into The Controversial Association Between Mainstream Mormons And Fundamentalist Off Shoot Groups Such As Those Led By Warren Jeffs Zoe s book about polygamy is a different take on the subject I have read articles and books about families within these groups, but never one that shows the viewpoint of the family that DOESN T want to be involved The story is about the father that becomes convinced he must bring his family into this lifestyle because God wants this of him His wife and two children are against this and rebel The mother becomes mentally ill and the children are left to fend for themselves This is a hard difficult subject to read about since I know it is inspired by Zoe s life But it is really worth your time Very well written and interesting all the way through I was lucky enough to briefly meet the author at a book signing a few years ago This book will remain on my book shelf and read again and again. The description sounds almost dull a father never actually becomes a polygamist, but dabbles in its ideals, splitting the family apart but this novel is far from boring It s told from the perspective of 12 year old Beth, who must be the rock for her mother and little brother as the father abandons the family, the Mormon church turns their back, Beth endures teasing and sexual abuse, the family starves, the mother fights a life threatening illnessa lot for a young girl to take on alone.There were a few points when Beth s voice was inconsistent that really interrupted the story for me As did the entire church scene near the end Without spoiling it, a lot of the Mormon culture ism was flat out wrong, that would never happen in an LDS church. Torn By God is a stirring memoir of a world few know about, yet everyone has heard of The Mormon faith holds many secrets Murdock paints starkly compelling scenes and captures the angst of a Mormon family s battle with the concept of polygamy Her characters come to life as they grapple with the old and the new ways of Mormonism and the toll that that battle can wage with the soul and how blind faith can tear a family apart The insights one gains from this book are timely and should be considered a must read this fall. It made me wonder all through the book about other family members Where were the grandmas, aunts, uncles on both sides Also it seemed that the memory of the girl was beyond extraordinaire Because it is a true story , I can t fault the suspposed happy ending, but in my head I was saying, REALLY This book is somewhat disturbing, but in a good way It s a good representation of how damaging spiritual abuse can be.