The Outlaw Life

running, reading, blogging, loving

[03] Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage

OOOOHKAY. So. This book. I feel the need to preface this book analy-cussion thingy (analysis/discussion. get it?) by saying that I am, like, weirdly in love with this show. And with polygamists in general. This interest ranges from the extreme (couldn’t stop reading books like Escape and other FLDS compound related books) to the tame (see book, left) to the completely fictional (DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED about the crap ending to Big Love. Although all my love to Gennifer Goodwin). I don’t know what it is, but I blame the same part of me that decided to be be a sociologist in my undergrad and the part of me that likes to creep on people at the coffee shop to see what they’re ordering. It’s like a look inside a social environment that exists within the parameters of a social structure I also exist in. If that makes sense. Which it probably doesn’t.

Anyway, so this book is about now famous polygamist Kody Brown and his four wives, who are the subjects of the TLC show Sister Wives. If you haven’t watched it, and overwrought reality TV is your thing (sign me up for a double dose, if you please!) then you might just enjoy this kind of “behind the scenes” look at how the Brown family came to be. Only, here’s the thing. THEY ALL SEEM TO HATE EACH OTHER! It’s hilarious. Don’t get me wrong. I understand, as a newly married lady, that I’m just now coming to understand some of the complications, drama, and behind-closed-doors¬† situations that can, apparently, make married life somewhat difficult from time to time! And I imagine that, once you start adding multiple wives and children in to the mix, things can get a little overwhelming pretty fast. HOWEVER. Something just feels different about this particular familial tale.

The book opens and ends with chapters from Kody, wherein he offers his opinions and his “side” of the story as to how his family came to be, and how they keep functioning amidst the drama (those who watch the show will know that, shortly after ‘coming out’ as polygamists, the family faced ridicule in Utah, and so decided to move the entire family to Las Vegas). Between that, the story of the family unfolds as each of the four wives has a chance to talk about each “phase” of the relationship, including when various children were born and when the other wives came in to the family. The chapters go in order of the wives – Mary, Janelle, Christine, and Robin – and they all, basically, cover the same block of time in each chapter, so the reader seems pretty much the same set of events described from three or four point of views (Robin, the last wife, didn’t offer many opinions on the early years of the marriage). The ONLY¬† thing is that each of the women seem to say the same thing:

“I was hurt because the other wives misunderstood. Only not really. I misunderstood their misunderstanding. But I didn’t say anything because, you know. Kody. And the family.”

THEY ALL DO IT. So this entire family is essentially just everyone saying “I felt HURT. My feelings were treated BADLY.” But no one ever seemed to realize that if it’s happening to THEM, MAYBE it’s happening to a sister wive. I don’t know. A lot of it came across more like a dorm of girls who all happen to be dating the same man, than it did a personal description of plural marriage and what that’s like. And maybe I’m being unfair. The book never really touted itself as being any kind of description or defense of plural marriage as a whole – just to tell their story. But, as Spiderman tells us, with great power comes great responsibility, and I guess I just felt like if the Browns have chosen to make themselves known as a polygamist family, it’s kind of their “job” to ambassador for their lifestyle. Including like writing a better book.

Rating: Eh.

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