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Publisher's Summary

When she was 18 years old, Carolyn Jessop was coerced into an arranged marriage with a total stranger - a man 32 years her senior. Merril Jessop already had three wives. But arranged plural marriages were an integral part of Carolyn's heritage: She was born into and raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), the radical offshoot of the Mormon Church. Over the next 15 years, Carolyn had eight children and withstood her husband's psychological abuse and the watchful eyes of his other wives, who were locked in a constant battle for supremacy.

Carolyn was miserable for years and wanted out, but she knew that if she tried to leave and got caught, her children would be taken away from her. But in 2003 Carolyn chose freedom over fear and fled her home with her eight children.

Escape exposes a world that is tantamount to a prison camp, created by religious fanatics. Against this background, Carolyn Jessop's flight takes on an extraordinary, inspiring power. She became the first woman ever granted full custody of her children in a contested suit involving the FLDS. And in 2006 her reports to the Utah attorney general on church abuses formed a crucial part of the case that led to the arrest of its notorious leader, Warren Jeffs.

©2007 Visionary Classics, LLC; (P)2007 Books on Tape

Critic Reviews

"The story Carolyn Jessop tells is so weird and shocking that one hesitates to believe a sect like this, with 10,000 polygamous followers, could really exist in 21st-century America. But Jessop's courageous, heart-wrenching account is absolutely factual. This riveting book reminds us that truth can indeed be much, much stranger than fiction." (Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air and Into the Wild)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Kim
  • Spokane, WA, United States
  • 12-17-11

Questions answered - candid and informative.

If you are at all curious about the polygamist lifestyle - at least the most extremely negative version of it - then this book will answer your questions. The matter-of-fact delivery of the narrator seems to fit well with the stoic style of writer - I could see how an overly emotional rendition might have worn on my patience after awhile. However, I have to say that it could've been several hours shorter without losing much of the story, and at least some emotion would have been nice. I sympathize greatly with the plight of this woman and the tough choices she had to make to survive - she is a true survivor and someone to be admired for her courage and willingness to share her story.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Cheryl D
  • San Antonio, TX, USA
  • 10-28-07

Like a train wreck you can't turn away

This book tells the tale of a FLDS woman who lives her life in the polygamist sect located in Colorado City and thankfully escapes to a better life with her children. You may know this group from the recent news concerning the arrest and conviction of their leader, Warren Jeffs. Carolyn's story leads you from one harrowing, distasteful, unbeliveable tale (which are true!) that you can not stop listening to. I listened to this non stop - so much so that it drove my family crazy b/c I had my headphones on constantly. Not since the book The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls has a book based on reality made me cringe, angry and proud of the author/victim of the story. Worthwhile read and a lot of background to so many of those news reports we've all seen in the last year or so.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Incredible Story of Guts and Grit

This is the story of a woman born into a fundamentalist cult. Her story of abuse and oppression is told with meticulous detail and stunning revelation. And the courage, perseverance and just sheer mettle that leaving the cult required was well documented. It's easy to say, "just leave" but for this woman, with eight children and limited resources, one child with serious medical issues, facing two impossible alternatives must have been daunting. Especially the entry into the civilized world as we know it, coming from such a sheltered and controlled environment. Sometimes I found myself thinking prison inmates have more freedom than this woman and her "sister wives" had.

It is truly amazing to read about the lengths to which a group can go to control women, all in the name of spirituality. Of course, such a program of control and abuse has nothing whatever to do with true spirituality.

I knew what to expect from this story before reading, as elements of the various incidents had been on the news in the not too distant past and I believe the author was interviewed on one of the TV network talk shows.

I do wish more care had been taken in editing and/or in the selection of a co-author. Although the story practically writes itself, I thought there was too much of what I call "generic" writing, involving the use or overuse of the same phrase, as in, dining out for a festive "date night" being repeatedly referred to as "going out for a steak dinner". While I know that even with many vegetarians and vegans around, there will always be people who love steak, but to hear it repeatedly, and used as "code" for a nice evening out signified to me a lack of imagination. Of course, such a term could be an authentic indication of the limited background and spartan lifestyle of the narrator.

All in all, though, a very good read. Makes one appreciate an independent lifestyle all the more.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting, but slow

This was one of the few times I wished I had an abridged version of an audiobook. Ms. Jessop's story is fascinating, but gets bogged down by mediocre writing and endless repetition. Making it worse is the narrator, who speaks verrrry slooowly; I ended up listening to it on double speed, which made it more bearable during a long drive. In sum, it's definitely a story worth hearing, but I'd recommend waiting for an abridged audiobook or buying the print version so you can skim the redundant bits.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Scary and challenging

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This story touched me in so many ways. It is hard to believe that she was capable of making such a huge decision. It is also amazing that she survived any court system at all. Fabulous acceptance to change.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


OK, first off, I am LDS so I know the beginning history of the FLDS church when they were excommunicated and split from the founding LDS church. I thought I knew pretty much what the FLDS church believed in today as I see their members almost every day in my area. However, I was so completely wrong! It is absolutely amazing how far they have strayed from their original doctrine and have become a church of bigots and people that seek to destroy each other. Even though they believe that they believe in the Savior's teachings, they have completely turned away from His teachings and have become a Nazi-like society. This book is shocking and a real eye-opener! What these people has digressed into is horrifying to say the very least.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mark
  • Los Alamos, NM, USA
  • 05-17-08

Mind blowing

First of all I'll state that I'm mainstream Mormon. I grew up in northern Arizona and in Utah Valley. I knew that various polygamous existed but had never spoken with anyone who practiced polygamy. Due to the Texas raid I decided it was time to try and understand a little more about who they were

I have to admit I never knew how bad it was. I was raised by very loving parents in a large family (13 kids) so I can relate to them a little about living in a large family. I was shocked and felt horrible that such things were going on so close and nothing was being done. I have read many books about the Muslim world and other cultures and understand how much peer pressure works. Woman in some muslim countries are treated as slaves and property just like the woman in the FLDS cult. It isn't necessarily Islam that is the source of woman being abused it is people perverting religion and using it for power. It happens across many religions and places. Once the tradition gets started it is hard to break free and it perpetuates itself. You can't even really blame most of the men in the FLDS for what they do because they are taught to do it since they were small children. It is all they know. This book really shows how a closed culture can be easily turned into a cult.

I have no idea if the Texas raid will finally break the FLDS rein of terror and brainwashing but I hope it makes a sizable dent. It disgusted me like no other to read the horrors Carolyn went through. No human being should be subjected to that but it happens all the time all over the world. It makes me grateful for the opportunities the US offers to most of its citizens. Carolyn is a brave woman and her story touched me deeply. I have rarely felt so mad at a someone (Merill) before. I can't believe he isn't in jail if his wife and kids are willing to testify to his abuse. I knocked off one star because she kept repeating a few things over and over in the book.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Claudine
  • ESCONDIDO, CA, United States
  • 04-23-13

Captivating from the first sentence!

This story is awash with tales that you will find difficult to comprehend. I found myself asking how these events can take place in this century in the United States of America. But they did - and still do. Carolyn Jessop enlightens us all on the frightening results of cults and how the use of fear and violence to control people lives on today. I was captivated by her life story and was pulling for her as she battled more obstacles in her young life than most of us will in our entire lives. Mind control is insidious and totally devastating. But she - somehow - broke free. This book is an important lesson to all of us on how easily people's minds can be manipulated.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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I'm fascinated by polygamy. Fascinating story.

I don't know why polygamy fascinates me, but it does. I think because I can't imagine "sharing" my husband or having to live with sister wives. lol.. I'd never given it much thought before the show "sister wives" came to tv, but now I find it so interesting... This book is written by Carolyn Jessop, who grew up in ploygamy and was married off at 18 to a much older man who already had 3 wives and children. She wasn't happy about it in the least, but didn't know any other way of live.. She does an excellent job of describing her feelings, what the relationship was like between her, her husband and her sister wives and why people believe in polygamy. She goes on to describe what happened to their community once Warren Jeffs took over and how woman had/have absolutely NO power or rights.. It's amazing how woman are expected to stay "sweet" and put up with being treated like nothing more than a incubator.. After escaping her 17 year marriage, she then had to deal with how her children felt, how afraid they were of the real world and all the challenges that came with that. For anyone who wonders why woman stay and put up with this kind of situation, you'll totally understand after reading/listening to her story. Very well narrated. I listen while I work (I work from home) and found myself putting in more hours than normal just so I could continue listening to her story.. Fascinating..

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Joanne
  • Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada
  • 02-01-09

Triumph over tragidy

Well written and narrated. This is a long listen (over 15 hours) and some of the content is disturbing and difficult to listen to. At times it seems a long hall with depressing content. That being said, it is incredibly informative. I was familar with the organization through the news and felt like I was getting an insiders look through this book. "escape" says it all - so thankful for the exhale ending.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful