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
Amazing story of perseverance
I was unaware that this was a true story until I got into the book. Couldn’t put it down thereafter. To think that’s this is a true life experience is eye opening. Very well written.
Could not put this book down. Amazing what Ruthie and her family went through and what courage she had at just 15 years old.
Really puts life into perspective. Thank you for sharing your story.