An instant New York Times bestseller
“A haunting, harrowing testament to survival." — People Magazine
“An addictive chronicle of a polygamist community.” — New York Magazine
“Unforgettable” — Entertainment Weekly
The thirty-ninth of her father’s forty-two children, Ruth Wariner grew up in polygamist family on a farm in rural Mexico. In The Sound of Gravel, she offers an unforgettable portrait of the violence that threatened her community, her family’s fierce sense of loyalty, and her own unshakeable belief in the possibility of a better life. An intimate, gripping tale of triumph and courage, The Sound of Gravel is a heart-stopping true story.
Wariner is her mother's fourth daughter and her father's 39th child. So begins this intense memoir of growing up in a sect of polygamous Mormons who are striving to build a utopia in the Mexican desert. The men tend the cows and do odd jobs in the States, while the women tend their children and their pregnancies and make regular trips into El Paso to pick up welfare benefits. Wariner's dad is murdered by a rival when the author is three, and her mom replaces him with Lane, whom Wariner comes to abhor. Poverty and jealousy are enormous stressors. Sister-wives fight for resources, and Lane isn't much of a provider. A fight over which wife deserves a new showerhead leads to Lane viciously beating Wariner's mother, and she flees with the kids to her parents' home in California. The author spends blissful months enjoying chocolate ice cream and hot showers before her mother succumbs to Lane's charms and her own convictions and returns the family to the colony. Squalor and child abuse follow, and the family grinds apathetically along until Lane's mismanagement of life brings a final crisis. By age 15, Wariner has had enough. Fed up with hearing "It's God's will" whenever something goes wrong, she rescues herself and then eventually writes this memoir, which condemns using religion to evade moral responsibility. This well-written book is hard to put down and hard to forget.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Wow, just wow
An unbelievable story written so beautifully by an incredible woman. It was so hard to put down that I read the last half in one sitting! A must read in my opinion. Inspiring and educating.
one of the best books i have ever read
i almost didn’t buy this book- and wow would that have been one of the worst decisions i could make. while not polygamous, or religious at all for that matter, this book taught me so many lessons about love, family, and hope. often times, as a society, we forget to appreciate the ones around us and take lots of things for granted. when my fully furnished, new house is “too cold” in the winter, i complain. seeing how ruth lived with no heating system and more remarkably, how she never complained, taught me a valuable lesson about gratitude. i also intend on being closer with family and telling them more often how much they mean to me. most importantly, hope. ruth’s ability to never give up despite sexism harassment and long days inspires me everyday. thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your childhood memories with me and other readers, but most importantly, teaching life lessons in a touching way. definitely one of my favorite books i have ever read. thank you.
What a powerful, heart breaking, amazingly hopeful memoir. Absolutely incredible. Thank you, Ruth, for sharing your beautiful story, and for including the epilogue. 💓