A girl Ruth Wariner was the thirty-ninth of her father’s forty-two children. Growing up on a farm in rural Mexico, where authorities turn a blind eye to the practices of her community, Ruth lives in a ramshackle house without indoor plumbing or electricity. At church, preachers teach that God will punish the wicked by destroying the world and that women can only ascend to Heaven by entering into polygamous marriages and giving birth to as many children as possible. After Ruth’s father - the man who had been the founding prophet of the colony - is brutally murdered by his brother in a bid for church power, her mother remarries, becoming the second wife of another faithful congregant.
Ruth and her siblings are carted back and forth between Mexico and the United States, where Ruth’s mother collects welfare and her stepfather works a variety of odd jobs. Ruth comes to love the time she spends in the States, realizing that perhaps the community into which she was born is not the right one for her. As she begins to doubt her family’s beliefs and question her mother’s choices, she struggles to balance her fierce love for her siblings with her determination to forge a better life for herself.
Recounted from the innocent and hopeful perspective of a child, The Sound of Gravel is the remarkable memoir of one girl’s fight for peace and love. This is an intimate, gripping tale of triumph, courage, and resilience.
“What chance does a girl have in a world where men believe that they (and they alone) are destined to be gods? This is the question Ruth Wariner bravely asks as she brings us into the hardscrabble Mormon polygamous communities of remote northern Mexico. Like a Dorothy Allison of the American West, Wariner shows us the humanity and tenacity in the people she comes from while making no apology for wanting something better for herself.”
―Joanna Brooks, author of The Book of Mormon Girl
“In her exquisite and powerful telling, Wariner takes us to the darkest recesses of extreme polygamist Mormonism―on a painfully real and personal level―and brings us back to the light.”
―April Christofferson, author of Trapped
“The Sound of Gravel takes us into the complex relationships of families with intransigent beliefs, religious convictions so dogmatic that harrowing consequences are forced upon their children. Ruth Wariner, this child of an isolated polygamist community, not only survives the oppression, but writes this unaffected tale of compassion and haunting sadness.”
―Sonya Lea, author of Wondering Who You Are: A Memoir
“The Sound of Gravel is a powerful indictment against religious fundamentalism and the way zealots control and harm generations of women and children. This is an important, and ultimately triumphant, story.”
―Julia Scheeres, New York Times bestselling author of Jesus Land and A Thousand Lives
By Anna LeBaron
Reading Ruth's story was so much like reading about my own life growing up in a violent, polygamist cult.
Ruth makes the shows, documentaries, news reports and other media you see on television about the fundamentalist Mormons come to life, even as you are wishing nobody ever had to experience such realities. Thank you, Ruth, for your vulnerability, bravery and courage. I applaud you!
By Carolyn Dube
I could not put this book down! Ruth shares her story of her escape from a polygamist cult. She overcame the unimaginable, as she faught for herself and her siblings. I shed tears for her pain.
About the author:Ruth Wariner lives in Portland, Oregon. At the age of fifteen, Ruth left Colonia LeBaron, the polygamist Mormon colony where she grew up, and moved to California. She raised her three youngest sisters in California and Oregon. After earning her GED, she put herself through college and graduate school, eventually becoming a high school Spanish teacher. She remains close to her siblings and is happily married. The Sound of Gravel is her first book.