Escape (Carolyn Jessop)


By Carolyn Jessop

Escape is a memoir written by a woman in fundamentalist Mormonism (or the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) who was forced into polygamy as a teenage girl. It is the story of her initial belief that polygamy was the morally correct thing to do, as a devout follower of her religion. Within their fifteen years of marriage, she gave birth to eight children to a man she did not love but was obligated to obey as her only link to god. However, within the confines of this marriage to a man old enough to be her father (and a powerful force in their FLDS community), she found the strength to become educated, independent, and create her own moral/ religious compass. She got an education, secured a job outside of the control of her husband, and eventually escaped, despite all of the odds against her and all women involved in such loveless, arranged, and often abusive marriages.

For any one intrigued by the secrets of fundamentalist Mormonism (or Mormonism in general), this is a great read as it reveals countless insights into the mindset and traditions of the devout. I was compelled by her adventure, her bravery, her personal growth, and the insight she developed towards herself, her religion, love, and what it means to be a woman in such a fiercely patriarchal culture. Jessop pulls you in and has your heart racing as she retells the unimaginable struggles she had to endure. On numerous occasions, I found myself in disbelief that such atrocities were possible, but more-so, that so many women so readily accept what is handed to them without question.

Carolyn Jessop is a unique heroine. However, my only issue with this book was the fact that, while I am impressed with her and her story, no one could possibly be more impressed than HER. Much of the book reads like an adolescent girl bragging as though she was the end-all-be-all. In this memoir, no one is as smart as her, no one is as creative as her, no one is capable of what she is capable of. If she writes a story, then it is the best story ever written and the whole world falls to its knees in shock and admiration. If she has an idea, it is the most brilliant idea that has ever been imagined. If she…well, you get the point.

Other that my wanting to tell her to get over herself a bit, I definitely recommend Escape, if not for the revealed information alone. It will make you want to empower yourself and chose your own destiny- not because the book is so insanely inspiring that you will want to reach for the stars- but because you will see (if you are a female) how wonderful it is to have the choice.

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