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The Sound of Gravel

A Memoir

by Ruth Wariner

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner X
The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Jan 2016, 352 pages

    Apr 2017, 352 pages


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There are currently 30 reader reviews for The Sound of Gravel
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Tracey S. (Largo, FL)

Great read!
I read this book in about 2 days. I could not put it down. Ruth's story was unbelievable. She endured so much as a little girl and didn't have much time to really be a kid. The story of being in a polygamist family was intriguing to me. And their living conditions were beyond belief and it made me sad and angry that Ruth's mom just accepted it and let Lane's other wife have more than she had. This book reminded me of "The Glass Castle". I totally recommend it!
Anita S. (Boynton Beach, FL)

This book is about a woman who grew up in a religious sect whose members practiced polygamy. It is a memoir and the author starts her story when she was 5 years old.
And what a story it is! This book reads like a novel and a could hardly put it down. I was truly amazed at the author's memory. She remembers conversations, the food she ate and even what she wearing. The author, Ruth Wariner, grew up in Mexico in a community where people were trying to live a life envisioned by a man (Ruth's father) who claimed to be a prophet. For me this was a story of misguided people who were living in a dream world that didn't exist. It is a story of deprivation, of a mother always making poor choices and of children who grow up poorly clothed, poorly fed and poorly educated. It is also a story of girls and women who in my opinion were brainwashed to believe that men were gods and had to be obeyed. One of the worst parts were when the author told about the pedophile husband her Mother and became his third or fourth wife. When the community learned about what he was doing, they really did nothing to protect the children. What kind of religion allows this to happen? Why didn't the wives of this man call the police? Although the author explains motives I still found it hard to understand the people who lived this kind of life. I admire the author very much because she had to overcome her upbringing with great difficulty and break out and make a new life for herself. This book is great. It will be a terrific book for book clubs because there is so much to be analyzed and discussed.
Diane D. (Blairstown, NJ)

I've always been interested in how the polygamous Mormons lived their lives, so I felt as if I "had" to read this book. I never thought how it would affect the point where I couldn't read it at night, because I would stay awake, thinking about it.

I loved the book, even though it had me in tears at times & shocked me at other times. I wanted to shake Ruthie's mother many times, throughout the book, and I wanted to hug Ruthie even more. My heart went out to all the kids in the book, and I bless Ruthie for all she did for her siblings.

For the book to have been written, I knew it would end well. It is a fantastic first book, which felt as if it needed to be written. Thank you, Ruth Wariner!
Linda H. (Glasgow, KY)

Surviving a Polygamist Upbring
Ruth Wariner's memoir The Sound of Gravel is an honest, straight-forward, mesmerizing and eye-opening account of her precarious childhood upbringing in a polygamous household in Colonia LeBaron on the outskirts of Chihuahua, Mexico written without self-pity or histrionics. She was third generation in an off-shoot fundamentalist Mormon sect called "Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Time" led by her patriarch father Joel LeBaron who was killed by his brother and rival in 1972, the year of her birth. Ruth was her mother's fourth child and thirty-ninth of her father's forty-one offspring. Daily living was hardscrabble made worse by an abusive stepfather. Inspired by their mother's consistent love, faith and family ties, Ruth was able to summon the courage, determination and resolve to escape. Her warmth and generous heart allows the reader a glimpse into her life and an opportunity to examine what matters most. The Sound of Gravel will soon be a well-deserved popular selection for book clubs.
Annie P. (Murrells Inlet, SC)

A well-told story
Sound of Gravel as a novel is a difficult but interesting read. As a memoir, it is mind-boggling that people actually manage to convince themselves that what they are doing and what they believe is acceptable, not only to society, but to the human race and, if God is in your realm, that He would condone such aberrant behavior. At times I wanted to just throw the book across the room, but then had to dive back into it, hoping for justice. Sound of Gravel is one of those books you want to chew the pages of but can't because you have to hear the rest of the story. Ruth is a lifeline for her siblings and neighbor children. I was amazed at the ending. Thank you, Ruth Wariner, for a terrible story well-told.
Jamie M. (Racine, WI)

A Memoir You Won't Want To Put Down
This was an excellent memoir about growing up in a polygamist family. Most people don't know a lot about polygamy except what they hear on the news in rare occasions or the current reality shows about certain families. I, for one, know there are multiple points of view about everything and because someone is in a polygamist family doesn't mean their life is the same as others in the same religion. This book was quite the eye opener for me with the little bit I've learned over the years and quite the opposite of "the famous Brown family" where they don't seem to want for anything except acceptance. To grow up in this religious lifestyle dirt poor is bad enough for the children in this family but to also deal with a predator on top of that made this a gut wrenching read that was hard to put down. I don't rate a lot of books with 5 stars but this memoir is well deserving of it and highly recommended by me.
Susan S. (Lafayette, CA)

A fascinating look at hidden world
To say I "enjoyed' this book does a disservice to its subject matter, but it was thoroughly engrossing, and horrifying, from start to finish. Ruth Wariner presents us with a memoir that takes us from her young childhood into her teenage years, at all times presenting her story as her younger self perceived it it at the time. We see her slowly come to realize what is obvious to the reader from page 1 - there is something deeply wrong with the patriarchal society in which the women have no rights, and in which the husbands and fathers take little or no responsibility for the economic support of their numerous wives, and many, many children. This is a thoroughly fascinating, though exceedingly unsettling, glimpse into a world that most of us know very little about.
Priscilla M. (Houston, TX)

A story of triumph over circumstances
This was a very personal account of a difficult, hardscrabble childhood spent in a polygamist community in Mexico. As a woman, it was hard for me to read about a life of being subjected to the whims of a husband and a church whose beliefs include multiple wives, as many children as you can bear, and complete obedience to both. We see this lifestyle through the eyes of young Ruth. When the story begins, Ruth states that she was her mother's fourth child and her father's thirty-ninth. Her mother was his fifth wife. This offshoot of the Mormon church believed that in order to reach the highest level of heaven, a man had to have at least two wives. Women who married polygamists were to have as many children as they could so they could become goddesses. In the meantime, the people in this community lived in poverty in houses without electricity or bathrooms. Ruth tells her story with honesty and love, but the reader's heart breaks for her and her siblings. Her survival and her ability to triumph over adversity make this gritty account shine with hope for the human heart and spirit.

Beyond the Book:
  Misery Lit

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