Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Lonely Polygamist

This was the red headed step-child that was not picked by my book club. Instead we voted in The Imperfectionists (which we meet to discuss soon, so that review will probably wait until then). I gobbled up The Imperfectionists and now hardly remember anything to discuss for book club, and then moved on to The Lonely Polygamist.

I thought this book was funny, smart, fascinating and surprisingly touching. It mostly revolves around the story of Golden Richards, who is "living The Principal" in a polygamist community in Utah. He has four wives and 28 children and he's having a midlife crisis. He's having an affair with another woman (ironic, no?) and is still trying to get over the accidental death of one of his children. He's overwhelmed by his larger than life family and seems to have stepped into this exotic lifestyle almost by accident.

The book isn't really about the soap-style drama of having multiple wives, but it does touch on the every day inconveniences and frustrations. Many of the chapters are actually focused on some of the more introverted members of the family - for example Rusty the 11 year old "trouble maker" and Trish, "The 4th Wife", and it makes you think less about the morality of polygamy and more about what Family means and the effects of parents' choices on their children. I loved the chapters narrated by Rusty - they reminded me of how much I fell in love with Oskar in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I'm not saying that this book had the same kind of emotional impact on me, but I still got really attached to Rusty and found myself giggling (and feeling intense sympathy) at how accurately the author captured the voice of a pre-pubescent boy.

I think the book isn't out in paperback yet, but when it does get released, I definitely recommend it.

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