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Lost Boy, by Brent W. Jeffs - Excerpt

Lost Boy, by Brent W. Jeffs - Excerpt

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3.46

(59)
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In the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), girls can become valuable property as plural wives, but boys are expendable, even a liability. In this powerful and heartbreaking account, former FLDS member Brent Jeffs reveals both the terror and the love he experienced growing up on his prophet’s compound—and the harsh exile existence that so many boys face once they have been expelled by the sect.

Brent Jeffs is the nephew of Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of the FLDS. The son of a prominent family in the church, Brent could have grown up to have multiple wives of his own and significant power in the 10,000-strong community. But he knew that behind the group’s pious public image—women in chaste dresses carrying babies on their hips—lay a much darker reality. So he walked away, and was the first to file a sexual-abuse lawsuit against his uncle. Now Brent shares his courageous story and that of many other young men who have become “lost boys” when they leave the FLDS, either by choice or by expulsion.

Brent experienced firsthand the absolute power that church leaders wield—the kind of power that corrupts and perverts those who will do anything to maintain it. Once young men no longer belong to the church, they are cast out into a world for which they are utterly unprepared. More often than not, they succumb to the temptations of alcohol and other drugs.

Tragically, Brent lost two of his brothers in this struggle, one to suicide, the other to overdose. In this book he shows that lost boys can triumph and that abuse and trauma can be overcome, and he hopes that readers will be inspired to help former FLDS members find their way in the world.
In the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), girls can become valuable property as plural wives, but boys are expendable, even a liability. In this powerful and heartbreaking account, former FLDS member Brent Jeffs reveals both the terror and the love he experienced growing up on his prophet’s compound—and the harsh exile existence that so many boys face once they have been expelled by the sect.

Brent Jeffs is the nephew of Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of the FLDS. The son of a prominent family in the church, Brent could have grown up to have multiple wives of his own and significant power in the 10,000-strong community. But he knew that behind the group’s pious public image—women in chaste dresses carrying babies on their hips—lay a much darker reality. So he walked away, and was the first to file a sexual-abuse lawsuit against his uncle. Now Brent shares his courageous story and that of many other young men who have become “lost boys” when they leave the FLDS, either by choice or by expulsion.

Brent experienced firsthand the absolute power that church leaders wield—the kind of power that corrupts and perverts those who will do anything to maintain it. Once young men no longer belong to the church, they are cast out into a world for which they are utterly unprepared. More often than not, they succumb to the temptations of alcohol and other drugs.

Tragically, Brent lost two of his brothers in this struggle, one to suicide, the other to overdose. In this book he shows that lost boys can triumph and that abuse and trauma can be overcome, and he hopes that readers will be inspired to help former FLDS members find their way in the world.

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Publish date: May 19, 2009
Added to Scribd: May 20, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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08/21/2013

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BRENT W
.
 JEFFS
with
Maia Szalavitz
 
Copyright © 2009 by Brent Jeffs and Maia SzalavitzAll Rights ReservedPublished in the United States by Broadway Books, an imprint of the CrownPublishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.www.broadwaybooks.com
broadway books
and its logo, a letter B bisected on the diagonal, are trademarks of Random House, Inc.Photo credits appear on page 243.
 Book design by Casey Hampton
library of congress cataloging-in-publication data
Jeffs, Brent W.Lost boy / by Brent W. Jeffs with Maia Szalavitz.p. cm.Includes bibliographical references.1. Jeffs, Brent W. 2. Polygamy—United States. 3. Mormons—United States—Biography.4. Sexual abuse—United States. 5. Mormon fundamentalism—United States.6. Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I. Szalavitz, Maia. II. Title.HQ994.J44 2009289.3092—dc22[B]2008053028ISBN 978-0-7679-3177-9
printed in the united states of america
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
first edition
www.BroadwayBooks.com

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bbellthom reviewed this
Rated 4/5
This was a good book on the life of a boy in the Mormon Religion. I have read other books about the Mormon religion but always from a females perspective. It always amazes me how a few bad people can brainwash hundreds.
venqat65 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Amazing look into the life of a former fundamental Mormon. I was amazed that this story occurred in contemporary times. Very good book.
wrighty_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
In the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), girls can become valuable property as plural wives but boys are expendable, even a liability. In this powerful and heartbreaking account, former FLDS member Brett Jeffs reveals both the terror and the love he experienced growing up on his prophet's compound - and the harsh exile existence that so many boys face once they're expelled from the sect.The most memorable FLDS member in current time is past leader Warren Jeffs who is now in prison for multiple offenses. Brett Jeffs is his nephew and could have grown up to have multiple wives and power within the church. After realizing that there were darker secrets behind the church's pious public image he walked away and was the first to file sexual abuse charges against his uncle.He shares the history of the Mormon church and startling details of his own life growing up in a polygamous family. He describes how harsh and isolated life was and the fact that his uncle, the prophet, maintained absolute power and could change the rules at will and often did. Their religion demanded complete obedience with no individuality and the reality of the outside world was distorted and viewed as evil. Since multiple wives are encouraged, young men are seen as competition and are often cast out unprepared for the real world. They frequently turn to drugs and alcohol and suffer emotional and psychological distress.Eventually Brent Jeffs left the church with his whole family, which was highly unusual, but continued to live a polygamous life. This is usually hard to do outside of the FLDS. Fortunately they had the love and support of each other, which is also unusual. Brett Jeffs repressed memories of his uncle molesting him and other boys ages 5-7, eventually led him to press charges against him. He tells of his own struggles into adulthood and what has become of him and his family members. He has also helped establish support for other lost boys so their own transition may be easier than his was.I was fascinated by the insight Brent Jeffs provided into the FLDS. It's sickening to realize how much power an individual can have over so many other lives and the corruption that was involved under the guise of religion and God. I'll be curious to see how these lost boys and others from the community will fare in the future. I hope that this man's courage will help them to all have an easier life. If this is a topic of interest I would highly recommend this book.Thank you to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for a copy of this book.
sturgispubliclibrary reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Brent Jeffs gives a harrowing account of his experience growing up in and later leaving the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). His recollection of events that took place in his polygamous family provided insight into some of the struggles a household with more than one wife/mother might face. Brent also explains why boys, even those from privileged FLDS families, are not guaranteed a spot in church leadership and that many are kicked out of the church and abandoned by their families only to become “lost boys.” Brent tells his story with the assistance of Maia Szalavitz, and her style makes the book compelling to read and easy to follow. At times the descriptions of Brent smoking “chronic” and listening to rap were hard to picture, but then again, much in the book was hard to imagine. The book was upsetting at times, but I was impressed by Brent Jeffs’ bravery at facing a world that he was raised not to trust and ultimately seeking justice against those who wronged him.
lallybroch_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I have always been fascinated with the FLDS church and polygamy. I have a lot of books on the subject but haven't made the time to read most of them yet. When I received Lost Boy to review from LibraryThing I was very excited.Jeffs story is fascinating. I was pulled into it right from the start and read the entire book in two sittings. The detail he provides along with all the colorful, and unbelievable, people in his life, make Lost Boy unforgettable. The story is told in almost a conversational tone, and while that worked great in some parts, in other parts in came of as unpolished. I was actually surprised that there was another author credited on Lost Boy with the informal feel of the book.If you are interested in polygamy or the FLDS Church I highly recommend Lost Boy.
picardyrose reviewed this
Rated 2/5
Clear description of how the FLDS church works and why its people behave the way they do. But the book was marred by Brent Jeffs' eagerness to present himself as one who questioned the faith -- as a 6-year-old? -- and its flat tone made me reluctant to believe all he said.
lisalynne_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
More than anything else I have read about the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, this book gives you a real feeling of what it's like to grow up in the church - and later be kicked out of it. He had a lot of good times growing upad: his love for his brothers, the fishing trips with his father, big community events that brought out the best in their community. But there were also problems. How can there not be when one man is juggling three wives (two of whom are sisters who didn't get along when they lived at home, the third a teenager from a dysfunctional family), 20 kids and a demanding religion?To an outsider, the religion's tenets make it a prime target for abuse. The primary tenet of the religion is complete obedience. The Prophet can change the rules at will, because he receives instructions directly from God. Members are taught from childhood that everyone outside their religion is bad - evil, corrupt and untrustworthy - so they have little contact with the outside world. When you believe that one man holds the fate of your immortal soul, how do you turn away from him?The book is full of detail about their daily lives, something I often found missing in other books about the FLDS. What they wore, how they were educated, the logistics of such a large household and the crazy rules they lived by. They were taught, for example, that the Earth was made up of bits and pieces of previous worlds. Men who had married the at least 3 wives and were granted access to the celestial heaven would have their own planet, populated with their wives and children. Bits of these leftover worlds were used to make the Earth, so dinosaur bones were a relic of one of those other worlds, not something that walked on Earth, necessarily. No outsider would believe a story like that! But when it's all you've known, it probably seems more reasonable.Through the years, Brent Jeffs and his brothers have suffered for their parents' obedience. They were sexually abused by Warren Jeffs, aided by two of his brothers. They had problems with alcohol and drugs after being throw out of the church (their family was excommunicated because their father invited his eldest son back home after the death of his infant daughter). They had very little education, no idea of how to survive in the modern world and they were ill-equipped to make their own way. Brent Jeff's lawsuit, along with the claims of other Lost Boys. were instrumental in bringing some sort of justice to Warren Jeffs. Still, the book highlights just how difficult it is to break up this cult. It was not so long ago that authorities took mroe than 400 children from their families, in a move that was highly criticized. There is little doubt that these children are at risk for abuse, but how do you protect them when that abuse is a central part of their religious belief? The book is well-written and seems very clearly told in Brent's own words. He presents the whole story - black, white and chades of gray. The only thing I really missed was information about his sisters. He talks at length about his brothers and how they fared, but it made me wonder about the rest of his family.
heatherlee1229 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
There were a lot of great things about this book. First, Jeffs’ story pulls you in from the beginning and the book is VERY hard to put down. His accounts of what life was like in the FLDS church were fascinating to read about, and even though I had already read these same types of stories from two other perspectives, both perspectives were female so it was very interesting to hear about his life as a child from a male’s point of view. It was interesting to me that Jeffs questioned his family’s lifestyle even as a child; since he had the benefit of a public school education for kindergarten he saw firsthand that his way of life was not exactly “normal” and so he started having independent thoughts about polygamy even as a little kid. I was also fascinated by the dynamics of his immediate family, which was his father, his mother, and his father’s other two wives (one of whom was also his aunt/mother’s sister). What was interesting was that since his parents had both been raised in the church, even Jeffs’ mother was excited when the second wife (her sister) married his dad. Everyone in the family truly believed in the principle, even when things got incredibly tough between the sisters conflict-wise, Brent’s mother always believed that they were doing the right thing in the eyes of God by practicing polygamy.Brent Jeffs’ story is different from other polygamy memoirs because his family actually all left the church together. Technically, they were declared apostates and forced out, but when Jeffs left the church he took his parents, brothers, and sisters all with him, unlike most individuals who leave the church. This was interesting because even though his parents left the church, they still remained polygamous and their struggles living polygamy without the shelter of the FLDS were very interesting to read about. Another thing that was different about Jeffs’ memoir was that he really “outed” Warren Jeffs, his uncle and prophet of the FLDS church for several years before finally being arrested and given a very long sentence last year. Warren Jeffs, in addition to his many crimes against the women and children in the FLDS, raped Brent Jeffs and many other boys for years when the boys were between the ages of five and seven. In fact, Brent along with two of his brothers had repressed these memories for years because of how painful they were. Brent himself didn’t even recall the abuse until he was hypnotized in therapy as an adult. Brent and his brothers were the main force behind getting Warren Jeffs caught and captured. Because Jeffs’ memoir is so new, there was a lot of information in the book about Warren Jeffs not previously revealed in other polygamy memoirs.One aspect of this book really fell short for me, I have to admit, and that is the quality of the writing. It seems that Jeffs had a co-writer, but even with her assistance, the book is not written all that well. Jeffs wrote in a very conversational style, which was nice when reading the book – the reader really feels like he is telling him/her his story. But, it’s almost TOO conversational – some sentences don’t make a lot of sense, there’s a lot of slang and swear words, and tons of sentence fragments, run-on sentences, etc. Personally, I don’t normally pay too much attention to writing style, but it was starting to get in the way of my enjoyment of the book in this case. I really feel bad for criticizing what was otherwise a pretty good book, but it stuck out so much to me that I feel compelled to mention it.Generally, if you are interested in polygamy (as I know MANY of you are!) Lost Boy is well worth the read. Brent Jeffs provides a new and interesting perspective to the story of the FLDS church and his story really needs to be heard. I’m glad, for his sake and ours, that he had the opportunity to tell it.
devourerofbooks reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Brent Jeffs was part of a family of polygamist royalty as the grandson of FLDS prophet Rulon Jeffs. Unfortunately, this did not translate into an easy life. Brent's father Ward was the only one of Rulon's sons to go to Vietnam and he returned with PTSD. Add to this the fact that two of Ward's three sister-wives were actually sisters who had never gotten along and the third was a supremely messed up teenager who married him to get away from a controlling mother and didn't seem to know how to interact with other people, particularly children, and you can start to see why Brent's life may not have been very easy.However, things did not stop there. When Brent and some of his brothers were around 5 years old, they were molested by their uncle Warren Jeffs, the man who would later take over his father Rulon's position as FLDS prophet. Warren molested them only from about ages 5-7, but afterwards seemed determined to make life difficult for them - not a hard task since he was the principal of their school. This led Brent and many of his brothers, all of whom seem to have initially repressed these memories, to become rather troubled adolescents.This was a very interesting book. It seems that most books dealing with polygamy and FLDS explore the effect this life has on women. In "Lost Boy," we see the effect it can have both on the boys who are pushed out and the men who are more fully integrated into the polygamous adult male life style, like Brent's father. The writing isn't the best - there are far too many exclamation points! in some places - but it is serviceable. This is not the sort of book you read looking for lovely prose anyway, you read it to learn what is happening perhaps only miles from where you live. By that metric, I think this book succeeds. I found it to be an interesting and informative read, and one I would recommend to people interested in this topic.
psujulie reviewed this
Rated 3/5
I was pretty happy when I found out that I was being sent a copy of LOST BOY by Brent W. Jeffs with Maia Szalavitz as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewer Program. I am a regular viewer of the HBO series Big Love, and I'm strangely fascinated with the beliefs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS.) I knew this book was going to be one of those tell-all books, but I had no idea just how amazing Brent Jeffs' story is.It's difficult to say that I could actually enjoy a book like this, so I'll say that I found it very interesting and almost unbelievable. When I use the term "unbelievable," I don't mean that I didn't find the book truthful; rather I am just blown away by Brent Jeffs' story. As I read this book, I was utterly disgusted by how much damage Warren Jeffs did to so many people. I almost hate to admit this, but one of the main reasons I wanted to read this book was to get details about Warren Jeffs. I'm not going to go into specifics here because I don't want to give away too much of Jeffs' story; however, suffice it to say, that the mental and physical abuse that took place in this church is horrific.I guess what amazed me most about this book was that ultimately, it wasn't just a sensationalized account of Warren Jeffs and the FLDS. As sad as this book was (and it is very, very sad), I actually found this book to be uplifting. I have so much respect for Brent Jeffs. I am amazed by how he was able to work through his problems (unlike so many members of his family) and eventually find love and happiness. I can't imagine even surviving what Brent Jeffs went though, but that he was able to open up and share his story with so many others is remarkably brave to me. Even when he decided to go after Warren Jeffs, his motives were about saving others -- he didn't do it for financial gain.I also thought it was very interesting how the author portrayed his parents. Despite their questionable parenting skills, he shows them as loving parents who were caught up in a bad situation. It was clear that he has a good relationship with both of his parents and loves them despite their lack of support when he was young. He also showed how difficult the FLDS rules were for his parents to follow, and I eventually found myself feeling sorry for them (once I got over my anger for certain aspects of their behavior.) I think the love of his family and his respect for his parents helped him work through his abuse and start a new life.I was a little bit surprised that Brent Jeffs wrote this book with another author because at times, I didn't really think the writing was polished. I thought the first part of the book was much rougher than the second. I'm not sure if the writing detracted from my appreciation of the book because it read like Brent Jeffs was telling his story to me -- maybe that was the authors' and editors' intent. All I'm saying is that I was surprised to find that someone helped him write it.If your book club enjoys reading non-fiction or memoirs, then LOST BOY might be a good fit for your group. I was slightly surprised that there is a reading guide available for this book, but the more I think about it, the more I can see the value in discussing this book. I thought the discussion questions were very thought-provoking, and I think it would be very interesting to hear my friends' opinions on Brent Jeffs and his family. In fact, as I was reading this book, I kept telling my family and friends things that happened in this book because I so wanted to talk about it with someone!

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