“I had my secrets. A voice inside me told me I didn’t belong here, that there was another life waiting for me. And with each passing year, that voice became louder.”
What a unique story!! I love stories that take me on journeys that I’ve never been on before and this was absolutely one of those. Wife Number Seven was captivating and unconventional. The beautiful writing drew me in and the unique story kept my attention from the first page until the last.
The story is about Brinley, the seventh wife in a polygamist family. Bound by the customs of their ways and the beliefs of their faith, her life was fully planned out for her. At nineteen years of age, their prophet assigned her to marry a fifty year old elder in their community. The prophet’s will was not questioned because their belief was that his direction came directly from a higher power. But Brinley dared to dream of more… of a life outside the compound where she could choose how to live her life and who to love.
“Could I ever leave this life?
I’d be lying to myself if I pretended the thought didn’t cross my mind.”
One day, on an errand trip into town, she meets Porter Hammond. He’s not much older than her and had been exiled from their compound a few years back. Call him their resident bad boy, or rule-breaker, if you will. He’s struggling with many things himself too, namely a drug addiction, but he shows her a life and a love that before she’d only dreamed of, and gives her reason to finally want to follow her dreams.
“Why are you really here? … Tell me the truth.” He leaned in closer, whispering into my ear, “It’s okay, you can say it.”
“Say what?” I whispered…
“You’ve been thinking about me, haven’t you?”
Brinley’s moral struggles were portrayed very compellingly as the doctrines that had been drilled into her head her whole life began to pale in comparison to what she wanted in her heart. But those beliefs were designed to keep her bound to their ways and it had strongly shaped her world view in such a way that breaking free was no easy task. I really felt her uncertainty and fear as well as her longing for a new life.
“It seemed that no matter what I did, I’d be haunted by guilt. I could abandon my family, my belief system, and my God, or I could walk away from Porter, the one man who’s ever stirred my heart.”
But no matter how strong those teachings were, she couldn’t stop thinking about the boy with the clear blue eyes who’d challenged her and who’d left their world. They met in secret knowing the consequences of being discovered… but each day, those consequences began to seem more and more like a blessing.
“I want to know everything there is to know about you, the real you. Not the fake mold they’ve placed you in. The real Brinley. The only who matters.”
I’m being asked a lot about this so I just want to address the issue of her “husband” at the compound and to be very clear that this is not a love triangle, neither is it cheating. She was assigned to her husband, a man old enough to be her father and who she absolutely did not love. There are scenes where she has to ‘be with’ him and it’s also not violent or anything but just please know that it is not something she wants at all. The only man she ever loves in this whole book is Porter. Her struggles with leaving the compound have to do with her making the choice to leave the only life and comfort she’s ever known, but her feelings towards her husband are never a factor in that. So I just wanted to be clear on that. Porter is her only love.
“I need you to be mine.”
“I am,” I insisted.
“Mine alone, Brin. Not shared with some fuckhead who has no idea how special you are, how absolutely remarkable you are. Please, please do this. For us.”
I’ll be honest though, before reading this, I was intrigued by the idea but not quite sure if this was the story for me. So I just took a little peek at the first chapter to see what it was like and then totally got sucked in.
I found the culture fascinating and the story captivating. It was eye-opening for sure and I didn’t want to stop reading. I feel that, while the culture in this story was an extreme example, the general commentary on how far people will be willing to go to fit in with their society and to do what they believe is expected of them instead of pursuing happiness reaches far and wide. While the example in this book is specific, I believe the message is universal.
If you’re looking for something totally different, give this book a try!
Rating: 4 — 4.5 stars. Standalone.