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Hidden Wives Paperback – June 8, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This undistinguished debut by the pseudonymous Avery (two sisters who were raised in a fundamentalist Catholic community) focuses on a horrifically oppressive Utah religious sect. Young female members of Blood of the Lamb, like sisters Sara and Rachel Shaw, are generally wedded by the age of 15, assigned to be sealed for all time and all eternity in a celestial marriage. Male members, by contrast, can only attain the highest level of heaven by taking at least three wives. Prophet Silver, the movement's leader, decrees that Sara must marry her father's half-brother, and singles out the attractive Rachel for his own special attention. Both girls, after exposure to the outside world, consider leaving the community. The violence, sexual abuse, and the predictable consequences of inbreeding aren't for the faint of heart, but readers should also be prepared for more melodrama than drama. Betty Webb does a better job with the contemporary polygamy theme in Desert Lost. (June)
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“Avery's captivating story set in the world of polygamy depicts the struggles of two teenage girls deciding whether to follow beliefs ingrained in them from birth. A compelling plot, authentic characters, and a genuine love story make this a great read.” ―RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars)

“Though fiction, Hidden Wives reads like a first-hand, eyewitness account of polygamist lifestyle... a suspenseful page turner you can't afford to miss.” ―Irene Spencer, New York Times bestselling author of Shattered Dreams

“A poignant yet realistic tale of family love, loyalty, and dysfunction set in a ripped-from-the-headlines polygamist cult. This is no watered-down Big Love but a gripping foray into the realities of family ties that strangle. Hidden Wives is an engrossing insider's look into a world where faith is confused with religion, but where the powerful bond between two sisters and their search for justice succeeds in restoring faith in us all.” ―Karen White, award-winning author of The Lost Hours

Hidden Wives is a compelling story that rivets the reader's attention from start to finish. With searing insight, Avery manages to capture the all too real horrors which girls and women must endure inside fundamentalist Mormon and Christian polygamist cults.” ―Andrea Moore-Emmett, award-winning author of God's Brothel

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765326892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765326898
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,335,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By Julie Merilatt VINE VOICE on June 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
I was completely mesmerized by the story of Rachel and Sara, two sisters raised in a polygamous fundamentalist Mormon sect. Though they have been immersed in the bizarre dogma of their religion their entire lives, circumstances eventually persuade them to make some serious decisions about remaining with a community that condones plural and often underage marriage. As events unfolded, I became more and more engrossed in every aspect of their lives. Sara wants nothing more than to continue her education and rebels at the prospect of marrying her uncle. Rachel is more timid and accepting of her situation despite finding happiness with a boy her own age. They endure an incredibly abusive father, hostile mothers, betrothals to considerably older men, and countless other horrific incidences that left me terrified for them. As I read, I had an insistent fear for their lives, but at the same time, hope that they would defy the strict conventions that they were raised to adhere to. There was solidarity between Sara and Rachel that demonstrated the connection between sisters and the need to support each other regardless.

The conclusion was satisfying and went in a different direction than I had originally anticipated. The last few chapters contained so many different vindicating elements and occurred so rapidly, I wish I had more content to absorb. There were a few things that I would have liked to see developed more, perhaps in an epilogue, but I enjoyed the novel as a whole so much that I cannot even find fault with the hurried conclusion after all that had transpired.

The author's apparent knowledge of the religion and its customs was impressive.
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Approximately a mile and a half from a town in Utah called Centennial, lies a commuity called Blood of the Lamb in which men are the gods of their households and women are disposable. The "prophet" of this community claims he receives instructions directly from his god and therefore his words are infallible. He has 50 wives. His "apostles" are the richest in the community and they also have many young wives. The more common men in the community have about three or four wives a piece.

Sara and Rachel come from such a household. They have four mothers and one very abusive father. But he is "god" of his house and his word is law.. At 16 years of age, Sara and Rachel are waiting their betrothals. Sara is dismayed to discover she must marry her own uncle. Rachel is beautiful and of course, seventeen different men receive "testments from god" that they are designated to be her husband. Thus, her fate remains in the balance. May the richest "man of god" win.

Sara find herself "buried in truth" (I'm not going to explain that terminology cause it would ruin the story) and begins to think for herself. Does she want to marry her uncle and have deformed babies? No. She wants an education. She wants to read books. She is a headstrong girl and finds herself meeting a young boy from outside the community, a black boy. Here's the deal: Blood of the Lamb community claims that black people are animals.. they are spawn of Satan. (Have you ever heard a more smelly pile of bull crap?) Irvin is his name and he begins to open Sara's eyes even more. There may be a future outside Blood of the Lamb community for her .. Will it involve Irvin?

Rachel is not quite as strong as Sara and she is completely brainwashed by this cult.
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Format: Paperback
Claire Avery's Hidden Wives presents a piercingly emotional landscape through Sara and Rachel, two sisters coming-of-age in The Blood of the Lamb community - a fundamental polygamist sect in Utah. At 15 and 16-years-of-age, Sara and Rachel are bordering on spinsterhood. Most "girls" receive their marriage confirmations as early as 13-years-of-age through the "law of placing." The more wives a man has, the more likely he will attain the status of a god in the afterlife. It does not take long for the reader to realize the caustic effect of this practice: bride shortages. With the shortage of brides comes the unspeakable acts of child marriages, incest, rape, and violence. One of the most difficult parts of the book to read was the birth of a child as a result of an incestuous relationship - absolutely heartbreaking. Yet it is in these most mordant moments that we also see unmitigated acts of kindness, forgiveness, love, and authenticity. The most liberating and pivotal moments in the novel for me, are when Sara decides to take books from the local supermarket and return them after she has read them. I envisioned Sara reading Jackie Collins, Candace Bushnell, and Jennifer Weiner. It is through this small act of defiance that Sara sets herself apart from the rest of her community. She begins to question status quo and realizes that there is an entirely different world that exists outside the Blood of the Lamb Community. While this act of defiance almost costs Sara her life, it also leads her to meet a young black man who suffers from echolalia. I had not realized what this was prior to reading this book and think the writers are brilliant in their creation of this character. When I first began reading the dialogue between the characters...Read more ›
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