Solomon's work is far from the sometimes maddeningly prosaic crowd of memoirs by people recounting small triumphs
and plain glories. As the 28th of 48 children born to a polygamist, Solomon tells her astonishing tale with so much
emotional clarity and raw honesty that the Utah dirt she played in seems wedged between the pages. Because this is
a story about Solon's staggeringly large family, she launches into a great deal of family history, tracing the clan's
polygamist past recounting the recriminations and threats of arrest that color each generation. She describes her father,
Rulon Allred, with a subtle combination of attraction and repulsion, giving polygamy a human face while showing how
flawed that countenance can be.
...when she begins to lay bare her personal history, the book crackles with new life. The writing style, a gentle
cadence full of detail, serves the story well, as when the author, who was born in 1949, describes her family as being
like the deer in the mountains above Salt Lake Valley: "For the most part we were shy, gentle creatures who kept to
ourselves, ruminants chewing on our private theology, who dealt with aggression by freezing or running." As Solomon
tells of the struggles of the wives her father had, and the hard times they endured as the authorities sought to enforce
antipolygamy laws, she delves deeply into matters of identity, belonging, persecution, and independence.
Forecast: The Elizabeth Smart case may have renewed interest in polygamy and readers seeking a first-person account
of that world could gravitate to this. ...more literary than sensational....
Solomon opens her memoir with the startling revelation that she is the 28th of her father's 48 children. The daughter
of a fourth-generation polygamist, she grew up in a world alternately filled with love and fear. In the abundant years,
she basked in her father's attention on fishing trips and shared the attention of the mothers. In the darker periods,
she and her family members hid from prying neighbors or were scattered across several states, living on the edge of
poverty. Solomon provides a remarkably balanced account of the contradictions and pressures she experienced from within
her family and from the surrounding culture. She portrays her father as a gentle doctor filled with the conviction that
he was upholding the true Mormon faith and as a man capable of making selfish and blind decisions. She also records the
hypocrisies and violence of fellow Mormons and government officials in their campaigns against polygamy. The inclusion
of historical accounts of her grandparents' and great-grandparents' lives as polygamists provides a necessary context
for understanding her love for her family and the difficult choices she faced. Recommended for all libraries.
Solomon, the daughter of a polygamous, fundamentalist Mormon, could well have called her story Secrets and Lies to
indicate the tenor of the early life that she looks back on with remarkable clarity and even humor. The twenty-eighth
of forty-eight children, she was instilled, as were her many brothers, by her father with the sense of the family's
difference, which the world beyond its circle, even most other Mormons (the church officially abolished polygamy in 1890),
wouldn't welcome. Although an inquisitive, sensitive child with a strong desire to stake an individual claim in the
world, she also suffered an identity crisis, which in the social context of "plural wives" (which Mormons termed their
practice) is perhaps understandable. Exacerbating her crisis was living in the constant fear that her family would be
discovered by a government raid, torn asunder, and driven into poverty while fleeing ever-encroaching authorities.
Eventually, she fell in love, chose monogamous marriageand many members of her family disowned her. A rare story,
indeed, told with much grace and humility.
Dorothy Allred Solomon is the twenty-eighth of 48 children born to the many wives of Mormon fundamentalist sect leader
Rulon Allred, who was assassinated in 1977 by religious rivals. She is a profoundly wise-souled refugee from an old,
weird, mostly invisible corner of Americaone where the Old Testament stylings of Mormon passion confronted the
wild American West. Her harrowing family history and bracingly vivid, frequently poetic memoir, Predators, Prey, and
Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy (Norton) is a document of consistent fascination and intermittently
astonishing power. To read this book is to shape-shift into premodern, larger-than-life beliefs and emotionsand
also to relive their consequences, if only for a few moments.
An unusual memoir from the daughter of Mormon fundamentalists who maintained the Principle of Plural Marriage long after
the church officially abolished it. "I am the only daughter of my father's fourth plural wife, twenty-eighth of
forty-eight childrena middle kid, you might say, with the middle kid's propensity for identity crisis.", writes
Solomon. Polygamy was illegal, of course; in 1945, four years before the author was born, her father stood trial and went
to prison.... Throughout Solomon's childhood, the family was forced to scatter to various states and across the border
into Mexico. Solomon writes of great loneliness; when the family was separated, months would go by without a visit from
her father. And while the author's own full-siblings and mother survived, some of her half-siblings weren't so fortunate.
Major and minor transgressions had to be denied; the family did everything possible to avoid contact with the authorities....
Solomon began questioning the fundamentalist doctrine as a teenager, eventually joining the mainstream Mormon church. She
made a monogamous marriage to a Vietnam veteran with whom she had four children. She turned to writing as a way to
understand her past, couching her narratives as fiction in order to protect her family. Just as she made peace with her
charismatic father, a rival fundamentalist group murdered him in 1977....Intriguing domestic particulars of a
little-known way of life.
Solomon chronicles the hardships and costs of polygamy, but she also writes respectfully and affectionaly of her childhood. . . . [Daughter of the Saints] will find a large readership because polygamy is intriguing for most of us, and because Solomon's prose is clean and forceful and lovely. But readers who pick up this memoir merely because they are titillated by the topic of polygamy will find that they are drawn in by the deeper story Solomon tells. She has written a memoir that is, to be sure, captivating in its polygamous particulars. But more importantly, she has written a memoir about universal things, about how to tell the truth and about the hard road of family love.
A remarkable tale. . . .[Solomon] is outspoken and frank, free of the dissembling to avoid prosecution that she calls 'practicing Mormon logic.'
Probably the best book ever written about polygamy. It is neither an apologia for polygamy nor an exposé. . . . It is a psychological study about how polygamy shapes those trapped in it, even willingly. . . . [T]his is, we know from the opening sentence, a writer we can believe.
As one who has suffered its trauma, [Solomon] is especially qualified to tackle the subject in all its ethical and emotional complexity. . . . Solomon is too respectful of the sanctity of individual conscience, and too subtle in her intelligence, to stoop to silly generalizations or sensationalistic clichés about the roots of religious violence.
Unflinching....Solomon tells a rare story with breathtaking clarity.
What makes [Daughter of the Saints] so admirable and appealing is how resolutely it avoids sensationalism and how fairly and sympathetically it attempts to describe the inner and outer struggles of living with an adored, patriarchal daddy....The book is remarkably honest about the rivalries and sacrifices endured by plural wives, and about the heavy price paid by their sons and daughters. But ultimately, Solomon ... is less interested in passing judgment or assigning blame than in illuminating the human faces of the men, women, and children who inhabit this hidden and mysterious corner of our culture.
In spite of all the troubles she chronicles, Solomon's recollections of her father ... are suffused with warmth and affection. Her descriptions of the natural beauty of Utah rise to the level of poetry. Solomon has an extraordinary memory for childhood incidents and feelings. When coupled with material gleaned from family journals, it enables her to recreate not simply her own growing-up but also an incredibly rich and convoluted social order that has seldom been depicted from the inside.
Solomon's richly textured writing about what her eyes have seen captivates the mind and heart, providing a rare opportunity to glimpse and American family life vastly different from most of ours.
Startling and personal. . . . A starkly revealing autobiographical 'tell-all' exposé of contemporary polygamy that also speaks of the author's dedicated striving to find God's path as a woman caught up in a patriarchal fringe society.
Powerful.... Written clearly, gracefully, and succinctly.
An eerily compelling insider's view. . . . A remarkable look at female identity within plural marriage.
Exceptional....Amazing and true.