Book Review: Escape


Carolyn Jessop


448 pages

I admit it; I am hopelessly addicted to TLC’s TV show Sister Wives.  For those of you in the dark, it is a reality show based on a man named Kody Brown and his four wives, not to mention countless children.  Not having much experience with the polygamist lifestyle, I was surprised to see how normal and seemingly logical the lifestyle is.  The idea of having “sister wives” actually makes sense when watching the show, so reading this memoir was a shock to my system!

Carolyn Jessop married her husband, Merril Jessop, straight after high school after being coerced by her parents and other members of the FDLS church.  Merrill was over twice her age, and Carolyn had absolutely no interest in marrying him.  However, she had grown up in the church and believed that she had no choice but to enter into this mandated marriage to a man that already had three wives and numerous children.

Carolyn spent many years being stifled in a loveless marriage.  Merril allowed

Merril Jessop and six of his wives

her to continue in her schooling, but he was also a very possessive and controlling husband who cared little about what any of his wives wanted.  Carolyn risked her life to bear eight children, one of which had severe health issues.  Because of her lifestyle, Carolyn had to fight to get her son the healthcare he desperately needed.  Unbelievably, the police officers in her area were all members of the FDLS, so she wasn’t even able to call an ambulance for her son unless her husband consented.

Carolyn had hoped to escape her lifestyle for years, but was hindered by the health issues of her son, not to mention the danger involved.  She was eventually able to flee one night when Merril was out of town, but the FDLS was on her trail almost the second she left.  And although she was able to escape,, her older children were used to the lifestyle they had grown up in, and were not happy that they were forced to leave the only family they had ever known.

I was shocked by the behavior exhibited in Escape by Merril and other members of the church.  The FDLS is portrayed as a dangerous cult, which is the opposite of what we see on Sister Wives.  I tend to believe that Escape is probably a more accurate portrayal of the FDLS church as it was operated under Warren Jeffs.  Kody Brown and his wives seem to be secretive about their religion, so there are a lot of questions surrounding their beliefs and how closely they follow the FDLS doctrines.

I guess you could say Escape brought up a lot of questions for me, and now I am even more curious about the FDLS faith.

Other Reviews:

S Krishna’s Books

Maw Books Blog

I purchased this book for my Kindle.

8 Responses

  1. I haven’t read this book, but I’d agree with you that the book is probably more realistic. Those reality shows only show you what they want you to see.

  2. It’s so crazy that this kind of thing goes on daily within the US!! Definitely sounds like a shocking story!

  3. I read this a while ago (prior to blogging days) and it was definitely an eye-opener. I think she has a 2nd book out but haven’t read it yet.

  4. I have a copy of this book but haven’t read it yet. It is hard to believe that this is allowed to go to this extreme in this country.

  5. My interest in the FDLS church was piqued when I listened to The 19th Wife a year or two ago. It’s mostly fiction but is interwoven with a historical storyline that’s mostly true, I believe. You might enjoy it!

  6. I think we are talking about the difference between polygamists (Sister Wives) and fanatic FLDS communities (Escape). The people described in Escape would NEVER consent to being filmed.

    I am fascinated with this subject and do a lot of reading on it. 🙂 No clue why, but it’s just so interesting to me.

    • I agree that the Brown family from Sister Wives are definitely not fanatics, but from what I have been able to glean, they are members of the FDLS. They refuse to discuss their religious leanings though, so it is hard to tell where they stand as far as their ties to FDLS. Plus, I know absolutely nothing about the faith in general, so I probably shouldn’t be theorizing on any of it in the first place!

  7. I’d never heard of this book, but it sounds fascinating. Have you ever read Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven? If not, I’d highly recommend it. Thanks for the review!

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