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IRENE SPENCER grew up in a fundamentalist Mormon family- the thirteenth of thirty-one children- so it was no surprise that she found herself, at sixteen years of age, in a plural marriage, sharing her husband with a half sister.Enduring abject poverty, living in isolation, and suffering the neglect of a husband with divided loyalties created unbearable conditions. Yet IrenIRENE SPENCER grew up in a fundamentalist Mormon family- the thirteenth of thirty-one children- so it was no surprise that she found herself, at sixteen years of age, in a plural marriage, sharing her husband with a half sister.Enduring abject poverty, living in isolation, and suffering the neglect of a husband with divided loyalties created unbearable conditions. Yet Irene managed to overcome these obstacles to seek a life that she believed would be better for her and her children. She made a bold step into the "outside world" and into a freedom she never knew existed.The details of her harrowing experience will appall, astonish, and in the end, greatly inspire. This dramatic story reveals how far religion can be stretched and abused, and how one woman and her children found their way into truth and redemption....

Title : shattered dreams my life as a polygamist s wife
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ISBN : 6322788
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 400 Pages
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shattered dreams my life as a polygamist s wife Reviews

  • Petra X
    2018-10-30 12:22

    Update This is a view I hadn't considered before, and maybe it doesn't apply to fundamentalists, but the view has to come from somewhere. I was watching that show Sister Wives on tv. The fourth wife said that she didn't want to marry just a man, she wanted to marry a family and friends. She said she didn't want to be the first wife because she would have the agony of jealousy when the second one came in. She didn't want to be the second who would have to live with that. She wanted to be a third or fourth, where it had all settled down. ***I've read several books on the practice of polygamy by Fundamentalist Mormons, but none were as good as this book. It is a very detailed account of the philosophy and lifestyle of these people, the original Mormons. The subjugation of women, not as low as Muslim women, but still below any other group of women in the West, is evident. Not just from their almost non-position in the religion - they are just vessels to produce bodies for waiting souls - but also because they are essentially slave labour. The husbands in these polygamous families detailed in the book are away working arriving home with meagre amounts of money (the bulk of it was donated to missionary and other church work), and expecting the up to 9 wives and 58 children to support themselves and produce spare agricultural produce to sell. Wives have to give their consent to a husband taking more wives, but if they aren't informed, well.... Husbands play favourites, living with the wife they are in love with, deny sex except for procreation (unless, it is hinted, you are a favourite), and have a fine old time of life with the promised reward of becoming gods on their own planets after death.Only men can be so elevated and this godhead status is almost guaranteed if he marries a 'quorum' of seven wives and has fifty children (who could support 58 people? This is where the slave labour comes in, endless work for no personal reward). A woman's reward is that is she is very, very good, sweet and obedient then her husband will pull her through 'the veil' of death and ennoble her to be a goddess on his very own planet. If she is a bad woman, not sweet, obedient or uses birth control or tries to frustrate her husband in his duty of marrying many women, then she will burn in hell for all eternity. Nice.I understand that the rule of polygamy was abandoned when a condition for statehood of Utah was that polygamy be banned although the US courts had long ruled it to be illegal. I do have difficulty with a religion whose founder was a convicted conman and whose revelations (and those of his high-status co-religionists) benefit men, make use of women and whose beliefs are very hard to sustain 'gods on other planets' in today's world. When those religions then change their own absolutely sacred laws,perhaps the most essential one, because it is expedient to do so, I have a hard time seeing how anyone could actually believe in it and adhere to its principles. I also have a hard time in wondering how present LDS Mormons can accept the watering-down of the religion knowing it was done to appease the government, and side-lining of those who still follow it. This book does nothing to make me more positive and understanding. But then faith never required evidence, and facts that don't fit can always be explained away in any religion or set of beliefs.That said, I respect people because of their actions and sometimes because of what they say, not because of what they believe - I'm not the thought-police. And I'm aware that my own existentialist philosophy isn't held in any high esteem by those who have other beliefs. The book is a relevation of what it actually meant to be a polygamist wife. Highly recommended.Original review 8 Dec 2009, updated 6 Sept 2013

  • Skye
    2018-11-02 07:04

    Fascinating train wreck of a story, but my feminist sensibilities had a hard time allowing the author to lead such a life. She turned down a chance a real love to do what she thought god wanted. Strike one. Followed "signs" to lead her into what she knew would be a life of submission and silence. Strike two. Any children would also be prey. Strikes three, four, and five.At the hands of men, she had decades full of heartbreak, broken promises, charismatic bullies and endless suffering under the pretense of it all being god's command. Religious brainwashing, faith, call it what you will, is not an excuse - for all of her yelling and screaming she didn't try to help herself until it was almost too late. I just couldn't summon sympathy for her and was at times disgusted with her alternating tales of strength and weakness - "refused" to allow her husband another wife? Well, he did it anyway and she accepted it. Children malnourished because this husband was off working, marrying, etc. elsewhere? Oh well, she'll just beg and borrow food instead of holding the man who kept her helpless accountable. This ain't no "Big Love".Compelling book, but the author? Well, she just pissed me off.

  • Maren
    2018-11-02 06:24

    I have so many thoughts after reading this book. Let me preface my notes by saying that I could hardly put my mind to rest last night after finishing this...:1. Why in the world did Irene stay with Verlan so long? My conclusion is that either she's a complete push-over and enabler, or the brainwashing was beyond her ability to get past. Or both. Honestly, I am still in awe at her raising dozens of kids (yes, dozens since two of her sister-wives left for jobs and she raised their kids too in many ways) all the while living in such primitive living conditions. I wanted to cry when I read about her grinding wheat and cooking over open fires in the mid-20th century!!! Come on!2. As a practicing LDS (NOT a fundamentalist, I might add), I was disgusted by how many of the tenents I hold dear to be twisted out of proportion to enslave and bind this wives to the "priesthood" authority their husbands held. Yikes, it really made me treasure what I do have in my own faith. I'm so glad Irene found some peace to her faith by the end of the book.3. I felt like Irene gave a well-rounded picture of the main characters--just when you decided you hated Verlan, you realized that in many ways, he was just doing the best he could according to his thoughts. Same for the sister-wives. There were no one-dimensional characters here.4. At the end of the book, she talks about the fact that she didn't talk much about Ervil and his murderous rampages. I'm glad she left that story out--it belongs in another book. OF course, now I'm going to have find that book and read it, but this book wasn't about Ervil, it was about Irene. 5. As one who suffers from mental illness, I worship at Irene's feet (j/k). How in the world she managed to surmount so many trials and stresses are beyond me--the mental fortitude is something I certainly don't have. She's my hero.

  • Renee
    2018-10-29 09:29

    Shattered Dreams is a fascinating look at a way of life totally foreign to most people. Irene Spencer grew up in the branch of the Mormon faith that still believed in polygamy. The second of what was ultimately her husband's ten wives, she became the mother of thirteen of his 58 children. The statistics are important as they show the unimaginable situation in which Irene Spencer spend much of her life. This book is a brutally honest memoir of a woman' life. It follows her from place to place, never enough money, rarely in a finished house, living in abject poverty. She loves her husband but is able to spend very little time with him. He is spread too thin trying to meet the needs of both his large family and his church. She yearns for romance and affection, neither of which have a place in the religion she embraces. Her husband rarely sees his children- hard to spend quality time with 58 children. She helps her "sister wives" with their children in an extended system of family and obligations.

  • Sara
    2018-10-24 10:25

    It was interesting to read this after reading Carolyn Jessup's Escape. Both memoirs are about the author's polygamous marriage with the "blessing" of FLDS, but they center on different aspects of it; whereas Escape spoke not only of the authors abusive marriage but also getting out of it and getting custody of her children through the court system, this book is more about the hardships endured by those in this polygamous society and the author's struggle with her belief system and her desire to get out of it. Parts of Shattered Dreams were frustrating because of how indoctrinated and brainwashed the author was by the "prophets" in her FLDS sect. She'd grown up being told time and time again how polygamy is a mandate from God and that it never fails; only people fail to live it properly. Considering the struggle at the end of Escape, where Jessup deals with trying to get her kids away from all this brainwashing and not completely succeeding, I could understand here just how deep this brainwashing ran and how horrible it was. Irene Spencer wanted to marry someone else, but a leader within her society ruled against it and she went along with his judgment, instead becoming the second wife of her half-sister's husband against even her mother's protests (her mother fled from polygamy and failed to reverse the indoctrination given to her children). From there, because polygamy was illegal, Spencer and her family move to Mexico and then Nicaragua, all in an effort to conceal their plural marriages. Reading about the conditions in which she lived was amazing - no electricity, hand washing all clothes, no plumbing, etc. I felt so angry at times, thinking about how anyone could willingly live this sort of life simply because they were repeatedly told it was God's will! I thought this book, overall, was a very good read. Some of the dialogue felt a bit stilted, but not enough to lessen my enjoyment of the book. Though the content continually frustrated me, it certainly opened my eyes to a lot of things...

  • Ruth Turner
    2018-10-26 13:18

    DNFWhat a colossal pain in the a** this woman is…Yes, I’ll marry you, Glen.Ummm…no, I don’t think I will afterall.I’ve changed my mind. I’ll marry you.Ummm…well no, maybe not.Guess what? Changed my mind again. Let’s get married.Ummm…no, I guess not.Ok, this time for sure.Damn…changed my mind again. Sorry, Glen.Go to hell, says Glen.Smart man. What took you so long? Well, maybe not so smart!Ummmm…wait a minute…maybe God will say it’s ok to marry you even though you aren’t a believer.Ummm…sorry. God and Uncle Rulon say no, even though we love each other.Ummm…bursts into tears.By the end of chapter five I was exhausted!***I made it to page 235/680…how I don’t know. The author does nothing but whine and complain…about everything.As for her husband…didn’t like him much either, although I must congratulate him for having the forethought to surround himself with other wives. He’d probably have hung himself from the nearest tree if she was the only one. I would have!

  • britt_brooke
    2018-11-09 06:25

    “ ... in polygamy, nothing is ever enough.” This is a very detailed account of Spencer’s life as a Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint (FLDS) and destitute polygamist raising a shit-ton of kids. I couldn’t help but love her blunt personality, but my heart ached for her. If you’ve read The Sound of Gravel, you might be interested to know that Irene Spencer’s husband Verlan and Ruth Wariner’s father Joel were brothers.

  • Books Ring Mah Bell
    2018-10-30 08:27

    Irene Spencer takes us inside her life as wife #2 (out of 9!!!) in a Polygamist union. A life that is NOT easy, by any stretch. She does pretty well living in poverty; for many years not having enough food, not having electricity or running water. She has to make her own underwear and maternity clothes (sometimes out of flour sacks). The part she struggles with is sharing her husband. I wish I could say I felt for her, but honestly, after the 25th time she's throwing a tantrum and crying on her bed over her husband courting/marrying yet another wife, I thought, "Hey Lady! You KNEW what you were getting into! You signed up for this! You KNEW he wanted at least 7 wives, so shut up!"But all the indoctrination in the world can't stop jealousy.As the years pass and he adds wives and she continues to be pregnant again and again, her internal struggle between what she wants and what God wants gets more and more difficult to bear. All she longs for is a little attention, some love. She wonders many times why God expects such a sacrifice from her and why He (the Lord) does not seem to care if she's happy. She starts to dislike the idea of eternity, in which she will be exalted as a Goddess. This means she will live forever with her sister wives and children while her husband becomes a God. IF he marries enough women and creates enough children.The thought that people REALLY believe that amazes me. Maybe even scares me a bit.The entire story is riveting, really. She has a great sense of humor that shows many times in the book. (My favorite example of this is when her husband brings her a store bought bra, and a friend asks how he knows what size to get for all his wives. She replies that he tries one on his elbow for this wife, one on his knee for another wife and one on his head for her!)Fascinating, quick, easy read.

  • Karen
    2018-11-06 07:28

    Reading this book left me with at least one clear and resounding thought: "Thank God I wasn't raised in a crazy religious cult." Irene Spencer tells a mesmerizing tale of her upbringing as a fourth generation fundamentalist Mormon, an upbringing that led her into a polygamous marriage at age sixteen. Taught all her life to uphold the Principle of plural marriage, the author sacrificed again and again, leaving a man she truly loved (but whose insistence on monogamy would have damned her eternally, as her elders told her) to enter a world of poverty and unhappiness. Amazingly, she stuck with the marriage for twenty-five years, produced fourteen children, and "welcomed" nine other wives into her family. She moved dozens of times, all around Mexico, and Nicaragua. Most of her homes had no electricity. Jealousy and misery marked much of the author's life, though she kept her spirits up through a strong sense of humor.I got angry reading this book, frustrated, and often compeltely horrified. I wanted the author to remove her children from the life she'd given them. Then I'd remind myself that the author was the product of indoctrination. The fact that she left the lifestyle at all says something about her determination. I recommend the book with a few reservations. It's a great story, but the dialogue often seems unrealistic. This could easily be explained by the fact that the author was trying to recreate conversations she'd had decades ago. Sometimes I wondered about the authenticity of the spirit of those conversations though. I can't say for sure what made me think this except that some of the conversations felt too scripted. The second thing that bugged me about the book was that the author, although obviously happier once she finally left polygamy, traded in one kind of fundamentalism for another. She proudly talks about being a Born Again Christian in the epilogue. She ended the book still talking about God's great gifts in her life, and I wondered why she felt that her Mormon fundamentalist beliefs were all wrong but these new ones were all right.

  • Michele
    2018-10-29 11:13

    Too Many Wives . . . Too Many KidsI can honestly say I’ve never read anything quite like the life story of Irene Spencer in her memoir Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist’s Wife. Stories like this are seldom told. Either the subject doesn’t live to tell the tale, or more specifically, her lack of formal education, interaction with the outside world OR her religion would forbid it.My first thought upon finishing this long story of poverty, grief and heartache was, thank GOD she escaped this lifestyle and found a way to help the world to better understand plural marriage. To most of us, it’s a mystery. In spite of the current HBO television drama “Big Love,” which focuses on a polygamist family functioning in the outside world and fundamentalists living in a Utah colony, and last summer’s news story about the raid of a Texas colony practicing polygamy, I don’t think many outside of the Mormon church know much about the practice or the history of it. The author lays it all bare and particularly helps the reader understand the rationalizations and belief system behind the practice of polygamy. From growing up in a polygamist household and her struggle through the decision making process of staying faithful to her religion, she becomes the second wife of a man named Verlan LeBaron. What follows is a life of constant pregnancies, constant moving and constant disappointment.Spencer’s writing style is simple and charming. You can’t help but like her and stay with her through page after page of her complaints and heartbreaks. Above all else, it’s a fascinating story. I found myself constantly turning to the center photo spread to help keep track of what ultimately became a family of ten wives and over forty children. As I said, it’s amazing she lived to tell the tale.It’s one of those books that will remind you how important it is to count your blessings, and I recommend it for those who enjoy reading memoirs of unique characters.

  • Margaret
    2018-11-08 07:13

    This book deserves six stars in my mind. I have been reading since I could read and I think that I was 6 when I got my first library card. I have never read a book like this in my entire reading history! I am amazed at what this woman went through and her ultimate testimony of how she continues to speak out and help other polygamist wives caught in this hellish trap. At some point while reading I felt physically and emotionally caught on a train that was proceeding towards a cliff! No worries, I lived. Irene Spencer tells her story with courage and with a spunky sense of humor that I often chuckled while reading her book. This is not a gossipy book at all. I love reading memoirs of courageous people and I am very curious about situations out there that are unique or difficult. This book is dramatic but not for the sole purpose of gossip or sensationalizing, which is a complete turn-off for me. I had a feeling that the author was relating her story from a born again Christian view-point, sure enough she talks about that in the epilogue. She writes from her heart and tells her story in such a way that grips you from the beginning. I was curious about why she didn't elaborate about her brother-in-law and his murderous antics but she explains that very well at the end and I admired her reasons for not giving him any attention in her book. An awesome, awesome read!

  • Julie
    2018-10-25 13:19

    It was interesting to me that a book on polygamy was on the Amazon Top 100, so I put it on hold at the library. I think the authors story, while certainly tragic, is different from most of the polygamist girls that are married off young. Her mother left her father (as did another of the fathers 3 wives) when the author was young. Her mother then begged her for years not to follow into polygamy. She had a nice guy she was in love with who was desperate to marry her - monogamously. Yet she still chose polygamy, and became the 2nd of what would be 10 wives to a controlling, selfish jerk. She was a mother to 14 children, before she had a nervous breakdown and ran away from her Mexican home, where she returned to for just one year not much later. Her husband died in a car crash just days after she told him she was going to follow through with the divorce she had been threatening for years. While visiting one of her sons in Alaska, she became a born-again Christian, and has now been married to her current husband (as the only wife) for 19 years.So it's sad. Really sad. But I just felt like she had a lot more choice to enter polygamy than a lot of other child brides. So while she tried to blame everything on her husband and upbringing, I just didn't totally buy that.

  • Carrie
    2018-11-10 10:34

    While reading this book, I discovered my husband may still technically belong to the Mormon church his mom signed him up for as a kid. Well, probably not, since they excommunicated his sister. Myself, I totally disagree with Mormonism, polygamy, and people who do things for religious purposes, especially when it goes against common sense. I kind of enjoyed the story just to see how different someone's life can be from mine. There were a lot of extremely unfortunate incidents described here that were sometimes funny, too. I admired the fact that despite the author's extreme poverty, she still managed to keep a strong work ethic. She can also write better than any high school dropout welfare mother I have ever encountered! Still, I think if I met her in real life I would get very frustrated trying to talk to her. I wanted to shake her for bad decisions and bad jokes.As a book, Shattered Dreams is pretty easy to read. It's probably aimed at people like me who have never even paid much attention to the idea of plural marriage. It's pretty interesting.

  • Jessica
    2018-10-30 07:08

    I think I was equally horrified and fascinated by this book. The author was a really feisty woman, and that made the situations she had to endure a lot easier to read about. I even found myself laughing at different parts. With that said, I was annoyed at her often inaccurate connections to the LDS and FLDS churches (mostly relating to their reasons for practicing polygamy). I also was disappointed by the ending of the book. I kept waiting for the whole "what didn't kill me made me stronger" speech, but for me it never happened.

  • Abby
    2018-11-06 11:13

    I really enjoyed this memoir. Knowing very little about the fundamentalist Mormon church, I found Spencer's candor and honesty about being a polygamist's wife refreshing, heartbreaking, and informative. Spencer never stoops to the level of pathos or moralizing. She tells her story straight-up and to the point, detailing how she falls in love with her brother-in-law and becomes his second wife, the abject poverty she lived in for much of her life, bearing 13 children, and more often than not, caring for 20+ children. The end, which details her eventual conversion to Christianity, got a little too "God-heavy" for my personal tastes, but I respect her description of learning to love a more benevolent God as represented by the Christian faith, rather than the punishing and angry God as represented by the fundamentalist Mormon faith.All that being said, though, what I liked most about the book is that for all the crap that Spencer lived through, she never once "bad-mouths" the fundamentalist Mormon faith. She points out the flaws of polygamy and the belief structure, but she never gets dirty and starts pointing fingers. I appreciated her honesty and forthrightness in telling what must have been a difficult story to tell.Highly, highly recommended!

  • Alycia
    2018-10-16 09:33

    When she went back to Vernon at the end, I wanted to slap her.

  • Maria Armada
    2018-11-11 12:26

    Very interesting book. A quick summation would be: a biography of a woman who followed a fundametalist mormon lifestyle which demands polygamy. Her husband married 7 women, she was the second wife, and bore him 13 children (out of a total of 47) and raised them in dire poverty in rural Mexico.I had passed up this book several times but then I read "Prophet of Blood" about the FLDS cult run by the LeBaron brothers and this women was married to one of the "non-prophet" brothers (over 4 Lebaron brothers claimed to be prophets, the "one might and strong" and the other brothers followed them as "god on earth") So I was suddenly much more interested in this book now that I discovered it was about a women married to one of the notorious LeBarons. However, Irene (who was married to Verlan LeBaron who followed brother Joel as a prophet) barely mentions this bizarre fact - at least 265 pages into the book its barely merited more than a passing mention. I'm not sure if its because her life is strange enough without concentrating on the fact that her husband (who had 7 wives total - over 40 children) followed his own brother (Joel) as a prophet while another brother "Ervil" claimed he was the true prophet, split their cult and then ordered his followers to kill Joel - which they did. Ervil went on to order the deaths of over 20 people for not following him as a god's voice on earth. Instead Irene concentrates on her hardships as living as one of many wives, constantly pregnant, and dirt poor. It's more interesting that it sounds and at times it you think you are reading about a women living in pioneer time of the 19th century instead of an American woman in the 1950's. She delivers over 12 babies for sister wives and friends, gives birth at home to most of her brood. I have to think she had a lot of editoral assitance or even ghost writer help because the writing is interesting and flows well. I may be mistaken, and maybe later in life she got an eductation, but she was was married and had 3 kids when most girls are graduating high school and was sheltered from reading anything but FLDS scriptures for decades. Education was not a priority for celestial brides. I can't imagine a woman with such a background would be capable of this book without some major help - but maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised to find out after her "baby machine" days ended and her husband died she was able to finish her education and expand her horizons. I have about a 100 pages left and at this point I would recommend the book to most people as a very interesting story, but particularly to those interested in polygamy, fundamentalist mormons, and quirky memoirs. My major disappointment is her lack of focus on the cult she lived in for over 20 years. I'm currently on a reading kick about cults (Scientology, Children of God, FLDS, etc..) and after reading about the FLDS LeBaron Cult ("Prophet of Blood") I immediately sought out this book for a woman and insider's view of living within in it. Unfortunately, I've yet to get that from this book. She seems to only want to discuss the hardship and details of polygamy rather than the bizarre cultic and religious beliefs she devoted her and her own children too. I am still holding out hope that the book will delve more into the topic because it is nearing the 1970's when all the murders Ervil ordered occured, beginning with murdering Irene's own prophet Joel. She will have discuss the cult in depth to some degree to explain the murder of her prophet by his own brother - if she tries to sum it up in a paragraph or two I will be very disappointed. I figure I will finish the book today or tomorrow and I will edit my review to reflect this. I can at least say it has been a page turner for me.

  • Annika
    2018-10-27 12:10

    If I mark this as 2 stars, it looks like I really disliked it, when two stars = "okay". If I mark it as 3 stars, it says "I liked it" and that is quite a stretch. I didn't LIKE it. I just was interested by the incredible horror that is polygamy (you can already see that I'm biased) and so I read this account. Yes, I understand this is ONE woman's account of polygamy and being a "sister-wife" for almost 30 years.I understand she does not speak for all sister-wives.But I went into this with my own preconceived notions of polygamy (none of which are favorable...men are idiots to think they can "handle" more than one woman at once or shove one aside if problems arise, or think they can procreate their way into glory) and so I kept with this book until the somewhat happier ending.Irene was a daughter of polygamy (her mother was a second-wife) and so she reminds us throughout her entire ordeal that she grew up with this lifestyle, she knew NO differently, and it just "was". She never thought to question anything, she never thought to double-check scripture, she doesn't know anyone who DOESN'T live the polygamous lifestyle (the Principle, in the book), she has no friends, she only knows sister-wives, or aunts, or her own mother. Surprisingly, her own mother's disastrous results in polygamy forced her to encourage her daughter to marry a man she loved, for monogamy only, and NOT live the Principle.Irene doesn't listen, she believes God has chosen her to be one of many wives to Verlan LeBaron. She is 17 years old, and it's the early 1950s. Irene becomes Verlan's second wife (her sister, Charlotte, was his first wife), and so begins a sad, pathetic tale of an "obedient" wife through the horrors of poverty, jealousy, cultism, and polygamy. Irene Spencer the author is no fan of polygamy. She is a confused, brainwashed little girl. While given the chance (before Verlan) to marry a man who only wanted to be married to HER, she refused. I don't think she even understood why she didn't choose him, because I certainly didn't. But then again, I'm sitting here in modern-day Texas in my monogamous marriage, daughter of a monogamous marriage, and saying "No, Irene, don't do it!!"Verlan isn't a *bad* guy. He isn't evil. He isn't purposefully a jerk, or probably even accidentally a jerk. He's just a pathetic man who sincerely believes that seven wives will earn him godhood status in the next life, and his realm of children (I lost count) will earn him higher status. He sincerely does believe his wives will be goddesses (only through their husband, of course). He tries to do what is right, and that is righteousness by his own beliefs. He isn't abusive or anything, in terms of physical or verbal. He says awful things to her, but I honestly think he was clueless. Like when Irene is bawling and in hysterics over his wanting to take his sixth wife (a pretty little 15 year old girl, when he is 38 years old), he tells her to "shape up. Pull it together". Really, Verlan? More like, REALLY IRENE?? That's just all they know! And wives absolutely cannot be disobedient or jealous. That is ingrained on them.It's an interesting book, of course, but to say I liked this story, is sad. It's a sad story, it has sad ideals, and sad lies, and sad characters. Recommended for anyone who wants one woman's perspective from being a sister-wife.

  • Shelley Kresan
    2018-11-10 11:28

    Probably the 10th book in a succession of books about the FLDS and fundamentalist Mormons. This one HAS to be the most frustrating to me. She balks at the lifestyle from the beginning and seemed to have a strong spirit, but she stayed and stayed. She went through all this when it was at least physically easier to leave, but despite all evidence to the contrary she believed that the Principle was her only way to be a Goddess and continue to serve the man who put her through hell throughout eternity.Even after contracting Typhoid and German Measles; going through almost continual emotional abuse; seeing her child fall into a cesspool and almost drown in human waste; absolutely denying her children an education, decent food, security, running water or electricity AND fearing for their lives because another insane LaBaron decided to go on a blood atonement rampage and force them to move constantly SHE STILL CANNOT LEAVE.She whines and cries and stamps her feet, but still runs back to Verlan like an abused puppy dog. This is a man who promised her special trips but instead announces that he's marrying yet another wife. He then forces off her wedding ring, gives it to the new wife and takes her on the trip she was supposed to go on.She whined and cried and seemed to make life miserable. Most of the time I wished she would either embrace it and shut up or leave. She did neither. He had to die before she left.While I can understand the cult brainwashing that she had to overcome, you would think that she could have done something for her kids' sake at least. I have no respect for Irene Spencer.

  • Kelsey Hanson
    2018-10-23 10:08

    This book gives one of the most comprehensive books on what it's like to be in a polygamist family. This book doesn't focus on just the negative aspects (although trust me there are plenty of negative moments). This book doesn't follow the FLDS branch (Warren Jeffs and his followers) but it is a branch of Mormanism. While there is no direct abuse (unless you count women getting young pretty early), there is still a lot of pain when it comes to sharing a husband and trying to build a life with so many other people especially due to poverty because of such a large family. I admire that Spencer shows that although the system of polygamy may be controlling, there are still many well meaning people in the system who are attempting to get to heaven and are scared to death of being condemned by their faith.

  • Erin
    2018-10-25 06:16

    This book filled in some of the gaps that Favorite Wife didn't cover. This book is by Verlan's second wife, Irene, while Favorite Wife is by Verlan's 5th wife, Susan. I found both pretty enthralling. I doubt though that a reader could have followed this book as well without having read Favorite Wife first. This book makes a lot of references to things that I only understood as a result of having read the other book. It's pretty interesting that both wives, despite ultimately leaving the religion, had a shared fondness for Verlan. He certainly wasn't the jerk that Merrill Jessop was (the husband in "Escape"). I think I'm done with the subject for a while. Let's hope anyway. My husband gives me weird looks when I randomly exclaim how happy I am that we are each other's only spouse.

  • jenn
    2018-11-14 13:07

    This book is seriously frakked up. I'm glad Irene Spencer shared her story, when so many women in her situation, even today, suffer in silence. I spent most of the book pretty shocked and angry that anyone would put their kids through this level of poverty. Particularly when the author's constant defense of her actions was that she liked sleeping with her "husband" too much to leave him. Dude, when your baby falls through the rotting floor of an outhouse and almost drowns in pee and poop, it might be time to rethink some of your choices.

  • Jill Lamond
    2018-10-25 08:31

    This autobiography was not only extremely readable and fast paced but it was also well-written. Irene doesn't hold back in sharing all the details of her polygamous lifestyle. It is a fascinating insight into a completely different point of view. If you liked the TV show, Big Love, then I think you would enjoy this.

  • Bree T
    2018-11-06 06:20

    Irene Spencer was born into a polygamist household. Her mother was one of four wives, although she did leave Irene’s father when Irene was still a child. Despite the fact that Irene did not spend her entire adolescence growing up within a polygamist arrangement, she certainly had enough teachings of their fundamentalist Mormon faith to feel the need to fulfill her role as a vessel for a man. Although Irene had the chance of a monogamous marriage borne of love, ultimately she turned her back on this to marry her half sister’s husband, becoming a second wife at just 16.Irene married Verlan LeBaron and moved to his family’s ranch in Mexico in order to avoid the US authorities cracking down on polygamists. For the next 28 years, Irene lived in Mexico and Nicaragua in startling poverty, giving birth to thirteen children, twelve of whom lived and she adopted a fourteenth child. As well as caring for her own ever growing brood of children, Irene often cared for those of her sister wives as well. Despite the fact that Verlan’s first wife, Irene’s sister Charlotte and particularly Irene herself didn’t particularly care for Verlan to be adding to the family, he was determined to be elevated to god status and went on to add many more wives and children into a family he couldn’t afford to feed, house or clothe.But it wasn’t the isolation or the poverty that Irene struggled with – she was resourceful and she could cope with that. It was her husband’s stretched affections, the fact that she had to share him with other women and as the amount of wives grew and her husband traveled further and further to earn money or spread the word of the church, she could go months waiting for her turn to spend just a night with him. Irene constantly struggled with the desire to be a good wife and fulfill her destiny as a vessel in order for her husband to achieve his status. But on the other hand she was also a woman who just wanted love and attention from her husband, to be put first for once in her life.I’ve read some fiction books around polygamy but apart from watching the car crash TV show Sister Wives I haven’t really investigated a lot of true stories. I think that this book is fabulous at stripping it back and letting people really see what the lives of polygamous women are like. Irene is married off when she is just 16, the third wheel with a resentful, distant sister wife (in more ways than one as Irene and Charlotte have the same father but different sister mothers). She isn’t in love with her husband but she wants to be and she wants him to be in love with her. Irene has a passionate need to be loved and wanted and from the beginning she resents having to share Verlan with Charlotte. When Verlan comes to Irene and says he wants to add a third wife to their family, she loses it, ranting and raving and refusing (sister wives are supposed to give permission) before Verlan talks her around. This sets a pattern that repeats itself often over the next nearly three decades: Verlan has word from God that he must take X person as his wife (usually younger, prettier) and Irene loses it but eventually ends up agreeing to do it because Verlan gets sulky with her when she doesn’t play by the rules.It’s never fun to read about women being oppressed but in many ways, this is the grand-daddy of them all in terms of the subjugation of women. Women are nothing but slaves in the home and vaginas to birth children because the more wives and children a brethren has, the higher his status will be elevated to in the afterlife. I felt sympathy for Irene, who wanted a normal sexual relationship with her husband but he adhered to the fact that sex was only for the purposes of procreation and men should not have sex with pregnant women, those who have just given birth or those that are still lactating. Irene was also incredibly fertile: she basically got pregnant every single time Verlan went anywhere near her. She had thirteen pregnancies by the time she was 33 resulting in 12 live babies. Nearly all of her babies were born at home with only another church member attending as a midwife. Several times she was the one acting as the midwife and she wrote of her desperate fear that something would go wrong. At one stage she was caring for close to thirty children as several of her sister wives returned to America to work in order to attempt to support the expanding family. She was often depressed, run down and suffering from lack of sleep and nutrition. Their living environment was primitive, nearly always lacking electricity, decent heating, proper flooring, a functioning bathroom and enough room for all of them. At times they lived in a camper van as Verlan’s brother, the head of the church had one crazy idea after another about farming impossible land or living in a jungle.As much as I found the story fascinating, at times it was incredibly frustrating. Irene was clearly never cut out for the polygamist lifestyle, she desired love and attention from her husband, to be considered special, to be considered his number one priority. Verlan was basically a manipulative prick, partially because it was the way he would’ve been raised and partially because I think with nearly all of these ‘prophets’ and seniors in these fundamentalist Mormon religions, it goes to their heads. They’re middle aged men and yet they’re having ‘visions’ or messages from God that they must marry that beautiful young 16yo blonde girl. Verlan wanted pretty, young brides and he didn’t really care what his other wives thought about it. He was going to do whatever he wanted. He may have wrapped it up in the Covenant or the Principle but partially it’s just a man with an ego taking advantage of girls who have been raised to do what they’re told. Several times, many times, Irene wants to leave and threatens to and it got a bit tedious in the end – just leave then! Take your kids and get out of the Mexican or Nicaraguan hellhole and go back to civilisation. And then she does do this and I was like hooray! Only for her to go back! It was claimed it would all be explained, that it would be understood why she went back but it really isn’t other than being a bit of mystical woo-woo about premonitions and visions and whatever, none of which I could take seriously.Despite the fact that it did infuriate me, or probably because it did, it’s still a great depiction of what it is like for someone to live in this manner without the pious determination to be a good sister wife who never gets jealous or has issues. Irene Spencer does lay it all on the line, issues, jealousy and all.

  • Melissa
    2018-10-24 07:28

    Having already read "His Favorite Wife" I was much surprised to find out that this book was written by a sister-wife of "His Favorite Wife"'s author. Eagerly, I set into it to find a different perspective of the same family. And like the others, I found it immensely heart breaking.Irene starts the tale of her life as a small girl growing up in a polygamous family. Coming from four generations of polygamy, the doctrines are all she knows of life. When her mother leaves her father and becomes married to an abusive man, she escapes to her Aunt's polygamous family and in doing so meets the charming Verlan LeBaron. While she has a love at home, but sadly only one that would turn into monogamous for he and give her no hope of being "exalted" she turns to him thinking it would be better for her future.In a secret wedding, she becomes his second wife. Only then does she realize the heartache she's gotten herself into. She has to compete with his first and to her mind, favorite wife who is also her half sister. Throughout the years she has thirteen children with Verlan and also sees the addition of 8 more wives to his family. Each one breaks her heart and she wants some time with him. Throughout these years she is forced to move a number of times and must make do with many hardships and living in poverty.Surprisingly there's not much in there about her sister-wife Susan who was the author of the aforementioned book but Irene does say that she thought of her fondly and held no grievances towards her. It was interesting to see the difference between the two books because in Susan's book she made Irene out to be happy and cheerful and loving, while in this book it was clearly shown that she was always miserable. Irene had a sense of humor though and to my opinion that had to have helped keep her going despite everything.Such a sad book but it was nice to see that she was finally able to leave and found love and someone who deserved her. I was shocked to find out how large her family has grown. With thirteen children she now has 118 grandchildren and 37 great grandchildren. That's a whole lot of family!After reading so much about polygamous families and thier lives I find it so unbelievable that more is not done to help those that want out. I know there are several groups that have been formed but it seems like in Utah, Mexico, and other areas that there is not much accountability for the despair these people live. Hopefully as more books like these come out there will be more women who are able to escape this life.Having wrote the book herself, I would have to say Irene did a marvelous job. She tells her story clearly and concisely and even manages to put a bit of humor in such a sad story. I strongly recommend reading this book just for the value of learning.Shattered DreamsCopyright 2007385 pagesAlso includes a good portion of photos in the middle.

  • Tracy Lee
    2018-10-29 13:12

    Interesting. Easy to read. Gave some insight as to how a woman married to a man married to 8 other women lives (answer: not very well). Frustrating because throughout the book the author makes very definitive statements about how she won't do certain things and how she's leaving the husband (she was wife #2) and how miserable she is/hates her life/depressed/suicidal, each child she gives birth to without the husband even being in the same country is going to be her last...until the next baby... and each wife he adds to his harem is the last straw for her... except not really. I kept waiting for her to get a backbone - she had all the signs of being a strong woman and capable of leaving the man, she had a family that supported her outside of her husband's clan... and yet she never really left - years and years of threatening a divorce and she never makes it. Statements like "he even tricked me into going on a trip to Europe with him" - really? He tricked you? I'd like to see that trick. As miserable as her life was (and oh boy, it was the bottom of poverty: living and raising 13 children of her own in homes with no electricity, no running water, no medical care) and as neglected as she felt, and as much as her husband used her/took advantage of her/ignored her/manipulated her she continues to profess love for him and exalt him as a good man. Which makes no sense to me at all - all through the book she does not show how he is anything other than callous towards her and completely disregards her wants/needs/desires/wishes - he's a selfish egomaniac so I never felt anything other than confusion as to how - in the same breath - she feels so much love for him. He doesn't come across as a mean person or cruel, just a man that truly believes that his women are possessions and their only purpose in life is to make babies - all while being obedient - so it never seems to cross his mind that perhaps they have feelings too. Overall the book is interesting for its glimpse inside a Mormon polygamist marriage so it is worth reading if you are curious about that but the author's personal life and choices left me feeling frustrated.

  • Nouran Attia
    2018-10-29 08:15

    I was having some sort of reader's block, but this book was interesting enough to grab my attention and push me forward to keep on going. It discussed Mormonism and practicing polygamy which was something I never knew existed before reading this book. It was gripping to see the character go through all that in her lifetime and actually know that this is for real and that this really happened. On the other hand, listening to the character complain and thinking why isn't she taking some course of action happened a lot while reading the book, but taking into consideration that she was being told to only obey and not think for herself since birth, and being threatened with Hell whenever she tried to, puts things in perspective and helps to explain her dilemma, and I quote:"And as my mind expanded, I experienced something I would never have expected: anger... We were to believe and follow the narrow edicts of our husbands, our teachers, and our leaders-period. We weren't to bother ourselves with anything else... When I began to explore outside my faith, I saw why they had gone to such lengths to keep us ignorant. There were so many other ways to think about things, some of them quite persuasive."I think it would be quite interesting to get a peak into the mind/life of her husband Verlan LeBaron, some of their children, and maybe the other wives, that would give a different perspective on the story.

  • Paula
    2018-11-14 12:29

    I think it is unfortunate that people live the way that they do. But who am I to judge? Honestly? Though I certainly wouldn't live that way and at the same time, am thankful to read about people who do live that way.For those that have low self-esteem, especially in the realm of family, marriage and even God, I suppose it doesn't surprise me that this happened.I do continue to question Mormonism and other religious faiths. How can something be taught to your "God" and than over time, change how things are working within your religion. Time and time again, I find that religion is subject to change based merely on society standards. If "God" told you to live life a certain why, why change it?That being said, this book is an easy read. Mrs Spencer, regardless of how we view certain things, opened her life to the ways of how Mormons used to live and believe (and some Mormons still do). I find it sad and heartbreaking that some women think so low of themselves that they feel the need to eat, sleep, live the way that their "husband" wants them to. I find it very degrading to women and females. But again, sometimes when they grow up in that environment-they know of nothing else.

  • Susie
    2018-10-21 06:29

    This book should have been called I Shattered My Own Dreams.

  • Linnea
    2018-10-23 09:18

    This is a very heavy and intense book. I felt the author did a fantastic job writing her story and leaving nothing out. It left me heavy hearted, but also gave me insight to a lifestyle I don't know much about it. I would definitely recommend it- just know it isn't a light read and parts were tough to get through without getting emotionally angry and upset.