I had in the past read writings by people who had fled the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a breakaway sect from the mainstream LDS church that believes in and advocates polygamy. And I didn’t think much of them.
I personally believe polygamy is extremely harmful to women, and the sect’s practice — which seemed to increase in recent years — of arranging the “marriages” of young teen girls to far older men is particularly abhorrent.
And most of the writers, even though they had fled the sect, had an irritating tendency to defend the practice. They might disagree with the leaders — the Warren Jeffs and the Ervil LeBarons — who warped the FLDS principles to advance their own questionable goals, but the women (and those I have read have been uniformly women) were quick to defend their own fathers and other male relatives; the practice, they insisted, was both sound and in keeping with Christian philosophy.
And so Brent W. Jeffs’ “Lost Boy” was the proverbial fresh breeze in the desert. Jeffs, nephew of Warren, grew up in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., which was and is the stronghold of the branch of the FLDS formerly headed by Rulon Jeffs and seized by his son Warren. After Brent Jeffs’ father dares to allow two of his battling wives to live separately, in defiance of Rulon/Warren dictates, he’s booted from the church, and Brent’s mother decides to leave as well — and with no means of support, no viable alternative to the only lives they’ve known.
Brent Jeffs tries to hang on — to “keep sweet“ — but eventually he is forced to leave as well, becoming one of the “lost boys” who have been cast adrift by the sect, often because they serve as competition for the older men when it comes to those younger wives.
And Brent is keeping a darker secret. He alleges he has memories of being raped at age 5 by Warren and that his older brother does as well. After his tortured brother commits suicide, Brent and some of the other “Lost Boys” sue Jeffs, who eventually is imprisoned on criminal charges, and whose case still is working through the courts.
Brent Jeffs has a co-author for “Lost Boy.” While the writing isn’t particularly memorable, it does come across as extremely frank, and the story is riveting. And I had to love lines like this:
“There were now two skinny, six-foot-plus religious fundamentalist polygamists on the FBI’s list: Warren and Osama bin Laden.”