March 21, 2017 has been burned in my brain for close to a year. My friend, Anna’s book baby gets born today! Happy book birthday, Anna!

Her book is a memoir about growing up in polygamy. However, it’s less about polygamy and more about fathering.

Anna and I first met online as two rejects from a book launch group. We connected over Facebook and ended up on a ministry team planning retreats all over the country. Fast forward to October 2015. We met for the first time in person at the first retreat in Wisconsin and we cannot be more different.

Anna is bubbly and quick with a hug. She’s everyone’s friend and no one’s fool. This lady has been through it, as you can read in her new book, The Polygamist’s Daughter, releasing TODAY on Amazon and in bookstores around the country.  And yet, she’s warm, inviting and encouraging.

These two pictures are from the retreats we have attended together. I’m missing the beach house time we shared together in North Carolina, but here for you, dear reader, is the video of me breaking into her house this past July because she dared not be home when I drove my butt all the way to Texas.

Lately, our friendship looks like this, which is unfortunate, but we make due.

Here’s me receiving my advance reader copy of her book:

Here’s my review of her book —

Anna LeBaron, daughter of polygamist cult leader Ervil LeBaron, shares her remarkable upbringing in a poignant new memoir releasing March 21, 2017.

LeBaron writes from an adult perspective looking back, which gives the story a unique flavor compared to her cousin, Ruth Wariner, and her child-told perspective of escaping a different branch of the same polygamist family in 2016’s The Sound of Gravel. Both women tell heart-wrenching tales of hunger, abandonment, transient lifestyles, child labor and emotional abuse. However, LeBaron’s memoir takes a darker turn when murders, ordered by her father from prison and conducted as a “blood atonement for sinners”, are carried out by family members loyal to the patriarch cult leader.

[I found myself at my desk at work, reading the book, and my colleagues suddenly concerned about my sharp intake of breath and loud string of inappropriate exclamations at certain critical parts of the book. It was an interesting day, to say the least.]

First time author, LeBaron, focuses hard on sticking to her story even though there’s more to be told. Whole books and even a movie were released in prior decades about her father and his crimes. However, LeBaron merely states the facts behind the cases and spares the reader the gory details. I found myself wanting to know more of the crime story, but to Anna’s credit, that’s not her job. She sticks to what she knows from her vantage point, allowing others in her massive family tree to tell their story if they so choose.

The focus of LeBaron’s story shifts from chronological childhood stories and turns inward when she starts working with a counselor to unravel her past in order to create a better future for herself and her family. The tone of the book deepens to include Anna’s realization that Ervil was not her “father”, but merely her “dad”. A true father nurtures, protects, encourages and loves unconditionally. She discovers God as her true father. This realization brings the book full-circle and will leave the reader wanting to know more about God as a true father.

Note: I received an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review of this book.

Watch Anna’s interview with Tyndale, her publisher, below. She’s since been interviewed by BBC, and picked up by numerous podcasts and newspapers, including the New York Post.