Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udell

It always amazes when a book is populated with characters that I find annoying or distasteful, yet I'm satisfied with my reading experience by the time I finish. I like a book with colorful characters with a few flaws, but I usually would like to root for at least one of them. In The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udell, I found myself wanting to to line up every character, every single character, and just do a running slap until I ran out of faces. Still, I don't regret a minute of the reading experience.

The novel details the life of Golden, an almost reluctant polygamist, his four wives, and 28 children. He's too meek to really be the patriarch of such a clan, so the children run wild while his wives brood over his continuous, seemingly willful absence. As the story progresses, the reader learns the secret history of the family and each member's struggle for control over their own lives in a world where little individuality is accepted.

As much as I wanted to punch literally everyone in it, the book offers an interesting view into the dynamics of a plural marriage. Imagine Big Love in novel form and you pretty much have it. Polygamy is such an exotic phenomenon, yet it exists in our own backyards. If I met a polygamist family, I would have so many questions that would probably be too rude to say out loud: What keeps it all together? How do the children get the individual attention that they need and deserve? How does the arrangement stay vital? So many questions, but no polygamists to ask.

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