Escape by Carolyn Jessop


Escape is a haunting biography of Carolyn Jessop, a woman who was born into the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints community, a religious group in United States around Utah and Arizona. A religious group who believes in polygamy, woman degradation, absolute obedience, children brainwashing, apocalypse with resurrected Indian heroes and evil black people, and a bunch of other crap. Everything in the name of God. Seriously, like it’s mentioned in the book, how can things that are so harmful be works of God?

Carolyn was forced into marriage when she was 18 to a man of 50 years old. She was his 4th wife. She had 8 children in 15 years. The man married more women after Carolyn, last count up to 14. One would wonder, how anyone could be “trapped” into believing all those things and live faithfully for years (for lots of them, forever). This book explains how having been born in so tight community and programmed into following the rules, make people subservient. When you see only one way of living, it’s probably hard to imagine living any other way.

Escape covers Carolyn’s life from she was little, all throughout her marriage and struggles with Merril Jessop, until the end of her escape, closed by the winning of her custody battle for her children. She became the first woman who ever granted full custody of her children in a contested suit involving the FLDS. All 8 of them.

A blurb from Jon Krakauer sums it well:

“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 twenty-first-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.”

The last leader of FLDS, Warren Jeffs, was caught in 2007. In 2006 he was in FBI Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List. He was indicted with numerous counts including sexual conduct with minor, incest, and rape as an accomplice. From what Carolyn tells in her book, the leaders before Jeffs were sort of still okay. Sure, they practiced polygamy and they preached random forecasts of the state of the world. But they were still sympathetic. This Jeffs guy though, sounds like a total nutcase. He’s just out of his mind. Hungry for power, he just kept making things up to make people suffer. He’s crazy. Period. It’s tough to have a crazy man to be your leader who you believe is a prophet of God. Really.

I find stories about twisted churches are always interesting. How they can stray so far from their root is beyond me. In fact, stories about religions often fascinate me. How the hands of men are always the ones that twist and turn everything, rather than works of God. What an irony.

My only complaint is that the book is quite repetitive in stating the points of how unvaluable and miserable the women are in the community. It slows down somewhere in the middle too. But all in all, it’s a great insightful book. Considering the thickness, I finished it in only a short time. It made me want to know more and more.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Pages: 413
Publication year: 2007

First line

Last line
Freedom is extraordinary, and love a miracle.

Also reviewed by

Maw Books | Mindless Meandering


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