Tuesday, July 8, 2008

One Lost Boy

I review LDS fiction for Meridian Magazine, but this summer I signed up for LDS Publisher's Summer Trek reading program so I'm reading a few books that don't fall into the category I normally review. One such book is One Lost Boy by David Beagley. This is the story of a boy, the author, who until he was six went to the LDS church, attended Primary, and lived a fairly normal life, then his father became involved with a polygamous group. Though his mother was heartbroken over the situation she believed divorce was worse than polygamy and was persuaded to endorse her husband's lifestyle. The older children (there were twelve children altogether) wanted nothing more to do with their father and left home, but the younger children had no choice but to enter a life of drudgery, indoctrination, and hiding from the law. The first wife and children had to move frequently. David's mother ran a day care center out of her home, then a farm, and eventually turned her home into a care center for the elderly, taking on any task to support her family and provide her philandering husband with a monthly check while he spent his time courting and marrying other women. Eventually he had more than fifty children.

In time David and the brother closest to him devised a plan to run away. From the age of sixteen he was on his own. David had been sneaking off to attend the LDS church long before he ran away and after he reached his oldest brother in Arizona he struggled to finish school and go on a mission. Insecurities, a debilitating illness, a Dear John letter, a transfer to a different mission, all proved to be trials of his faith.

Since this book details a real person's search for faith, belonging, and love it is different from a novel. If the story were fiction, there are obvious weaknesses I could point out, but since it is a narrative of a real life, I'll just say that the story held my attention throughout and I was most deeply impressed by observing the growth of David's testimony and the sense that his testimony continued to grow beyond the events of his youth.


Kerry Blair said...

I'm reading a book on the same subject called His Favorite Wife. I think the author's name is Susan Schmidt, but I'm not certain except for the first name. I'm having a hard time because, boy, does that woman need an editor, but otherwise it is very compelling. It begins with her at 14, already being courted by three or four married men. She eventually marries one of the infamous LeBaron's -- a man old enough to be her grandfather almost. She tells her story well and it really tugs at the heart!

Stephanie Black said...

Sounds like a riveting read, Jennie. Thanks for the review.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Excellent review as always, Jennie. =)