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The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir

The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir

Written by Ruth Wariner

Narrated by Ruth Wariner


The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir

Written by Ruth Wariner

Narrated by Ruth Wariner

ratings:
4.5/5 (176 ratings)
Length:
9 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jan 5, 2016
ISBN:
9781427268150
Format:
Audiobook

Description

A riveting, deeply-affecting audiobook memoir of one girl's coming-of-age experiences in a polygamist cult.

Ruth Wariner was the thirty-ninth of her father's forty-two children. Growing up on a farm in rural Mexico, where authorities turned 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.

In need of government assistance and supplemental income, Ruth and her siblings are carted back and forth between Mexico and the United States, where her mother collects welfare and her step-father 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 Ruth 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 true story of a girl fighting for peace and love. This is an intimate, gripping audio-book resonant with triumph, courage, and resilience.

A Macmillan Audio production.

Publisher:
Released:
Jan 5, 2016
ISBN:
9781427268150
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

RUTH WARINER lives in Portland, Oregon. After Wariner left Colonia LeBaron, the polygamist Mormon colony where she grew up, she moved to California, where she raised her three youngest sisters. 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.

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Reviews

What people think about The Sound of Gravel

4.6
176 ratings / 34 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    I read this book pretty quickly; it is a very compelling memoir. Some parts were hard to read, but it wasn’t too graphic or anything like that. It was just so hard to read knowing this was real, and had happened to the writer. It was well-written, and I would love to read more from Wariner, especially if she wrote about the gap from the end of the memoir to now.
  • (4/5)
    A story that will open your eyes and show you another way of life. My heart broke for Ruthie and her family. There is such love between the siblings in this story! I can only imagine how difficult this book was to write.
  • (4/5)
    This is the kind of memoir where the details are so vivid and so unfathomable that you forget you're not reading fiction. In Tracy McMillan's memoir, there's a line about how she thinks people who don't remember much of childhood probably had good ones without much being noteworthy. Ruth Wariner's childhood growing up in a polygamous colony was clearly memorable, and this detailed account is entirely believable and yet hard to fathom.
  • (2/5)
    Disturbing memoir of a woman who was raised in a polygamous LDS sect in Mexico. She described her mother as a 'woman who wanted nothing more than to be loved' while I saw her as a brainwashed woman who subjected her children to her pedophile second husband (not that her first husband was stable - he had visions of the US being destroyed). The fact that she said that he should be 'forgiven' for his sins was enough to make me want to throw the book across the room. I realize that, in the end, the author was a brave woman who made sure that her siblings were safe and is deserving of praise, but part of me wonders if her life as a young, poor, abused child growing up with a group of religious zealots somehow affected her permanently.
  • (5/5)
    A heartbreaking story. No one should ever have to live like this. So much abuse and mistreatment. All in the name of religion. Couldn't put it down. The ending of her old life in Mexico was so horrendous I really struggled to find the fortitude to continue reading.
  • (5/5)
    I could not put this memoir down. The story of a young girl growing up in polygamy was gripping. It is a look into a lifestyle and loyalties that I cannot understand (and still don't) that you will not be able to forget.
  • (4/5)
    Ruth Wariner's story of her life, until she is fifteen years old, is sad, harrowing, and compelling. Her life lived in a polygamist family, over the border into Mexico, is just....messy. The polygamy thing is always confusing; none of the wives in this story ever seem to be happy; the children are not well taken care of. The whole lifestyle is just very discouraging. But the way this girl fights to be free of this tangled situation, while trying to help her siblings as well, is inspiring. Also, some stories like this make me feel so bad that it is hard for me to make myself keep going back to read the book. This book was not this way. It is well-written and easy to read. I think part of it is that as Ruth is growing up she doesn't realize how wrong her life really is. It is just what she is used to. That somehow makes it easier to read, for me at least.I read it for book club and am anxious to hear the discussion tomorrow. This is a very interesting, nonfiction book & I recommend it!
  • (5/5)
    Wow, this is an excellent memoir. Such a horrendous childhood, and yet she has come out the other side as a survivor.
  • (3/5)
    Certainly a harrowing story by an admirable woman who overcame unthinkable obstacles and triumphed. I have seen others compare this to The Glass Castle, but this is not its equal. Certainly both are about difficult childhoods with terrible parents, but Glass Castle was about larger truths and provided exceptional character profiles. This is interesting, but not more than the sum of its parts. Recommended for those (like me) a little obsessed with polygamous cults.
  • (5/5)
    I love memoirs and this one piqued my interest and I loved it. I listened to it on audio and it is read by the author which made it even more personal. Ruth Wariner was born into a polygamist family. Her father was murdered when she was just a few months old by his own church members. Her mother remarried another leader in their church and continued to have children. Her family lived mainly in Mexico but moved to the states a few times during various family struggles. They were always poor, living mostly on rice and beans, with no proper bathrooms, and minimal electricity. Visiting her grandparents in California would open her eyes to cartoons, macaroni and cheese, and showers. But, beyond the poverty were the abuse that her mother and Ruth suffered through, the mental illness, her siblings' handicaps. Her story is gripping and heart-breaking. But, you know she makes it out because of the book which makes it easier to get through the devastatingly awful situations she had to survive. It's an eye-opening look into the world of polygamy, poverty, and family loyalty.
  • (5/5)
    I haven't read a book in a long time that grabbed me so immediately from the beginning and kept me reading feverishly to the end. The mom in me was horrified at the depictions of life without electricity, adequate food, or appropriate adult supervision. The kid in me recognized the moments of magic, even in this seemingly dismal childhood. This is a memoir for readers who think they don't like memoirs - The Sound of Gravel will keep you up at night, bring tears to your eyes, and once again make you believe in happy endings. Highest recommendations.(Source - ARC from publisher - thank you Flatiron Books!)
  • (5/5)
    Wow. What a story - I enjoy memoirs and this one is a true story of survival. Narrator is the author which added to the impact of the book. Her strength and courage as a child is amazing. I am always impressed and inspired by memoirs like this one.
  • (4/5)
    The 39th child in a fundamentalist LDS family escapes plural marriage, extreme poverty, and incestuous pedophiles in a remote polygamist community in Mexico.
  • (4/5)
    This story is a riveting testimony to the courage and resiliency of the human spirit. This was a well written book that was hard to put down. Anyone that has experienced childhood trauma would benefit from reading this book. In spite of tremendous trauma, pain, loss, and abuse, the author's life was redeemed. Ruth's determination was inspiring and she gives many people the strength to move past any trauma they maybe have gone through themselves.
  • (5/5)
    Heartbreaking and inspirational. Thought about Ruthie for days.
  • (5/5)
    An excellent and unforgettable memoir! Having the author do the reading added a dimension of authenticity rarely found. The ability for Ruth and her siblings to overcome overwhelming odds should be an inspiration for anyone.
  • (5/5)
    Sad, gripping, well written. A vivid glimpse into a foreign world.
  • (5/5)
    Oh my!! What an eye opening story of a brave young woman in the fight for her life and the lives of her siblings.
  • (5/5)
    Heartbreaking story. I would highly recommend. I learned so much.
  • (5/5)
    Great sad story. So glad Ruth survived to tell it.
  • (5/5)
    Couldn't stop listening to this book - what a horrific story for this woman to live through! She is an inspiration and a hero!
  • (5/5)
    Both fantastic and heartbreaking...A true story of the human spirit.
  • (5/5)
    The author is such a strong and amazing woman. I appreciate her sharing her story.
  • (3/5)
    Well written story about mormons and child abuse. Unbelievable how women put up with men like this.
  • (2/5)
    Disturbing memoir of a woman who was raised in a polygamous LDS sect in Mexico. She described her mother as a 'woman who wanted nothing more than to be loved' while I saw her as a brainwashed woman who subjected her children to her pedophile second husband (not that her first husband was stable - he had visions of the US being destroyed). The fact that she said that he should be 'forgiven' for his sins was enough to make me want to throw the book across the room. I realize that, in the end, the author was a brave woman who made sure that her siblings were safe and is deserving of praise, but part of me wonders if her life as a young, poor, abused child growing up with a group of religious zealots somehow affected her permanently.
  • (4/5)
    So tough to read but what a story of survival and strength and commitment to family. Wow!
  • (5/5)
    I love memoirs and this one doesn’t disappoint. If you enjoyed Hillbilly Elegy or Educated, you will appreciate this one. Ruth Wariner is an excellent writer and storyteller.
  • (5/5)
    I really can't find the words to express how I feel about this story. I am at an absolute loss of words here. This story has plagued me and I can't stop thinking ahout it. I can't even begin to fathom what Ruth has been through and while I'm glad she and her remaining siblings are doing well today, I still feel empty and hollow after experiencing her story. Her story definitely should be heard and I am thankful she had the strength to share it. Just wow. I am completely shaken after this.
  • (5/5)
    "I slowly walked toward my mother's grave. I picked up a large handful of gravel and rolled the hot pieces of stone and sand in my hand, thinking about the place..."Ruth Wariner blew me away with this captivating memoir. I started it one night, late, with the thought of reading a few pages to get the flavor of the story and found myself reading until I just couldn't stay awake any longer.What immediately struck me was the dire poverty as compared to other polygamist enclaves I was aware existed. I just couldn't wrap my head around her mother; her deeply entrenched belief that husband was a prophet and her need to raise her children in such squalor. I would love to have been inside the minds of these sister wives. Rhetorical questions keep popping into my mind one after another. What kind of moral example does a parent send to their children when they illegally leach social assistance from the US as a means of survival? How can anyone consider this a religious lifestyle; overlooking sexual predators, murder, malnutrition et al? What drives a man to yearn more and more wives and more and more children that they simply ignore or abuse?The story is made more powerful as the narration begins when Ruthie is five years old. The horrors and dangers she must overcome are almost unimaginable and made more so as viewed from a young child's perspective; especially a child as perceptive and engaging as Ruth. As we listen to Ruthie's story, as she ages, it becomes unbearable to witness the adult community immune to the needs of these children. Again, I ask, when given the opportunity several times to make her children's lives more comfortable and safe, why does Ruth's mother return the family to the horrors of Colonia LeBaron?Ruth packs more than a lifetime of emotion and strength of character in this amazing memoir. And most importantly, we are asked to question our definitions of religion, trust, love, happiness, loyalty, family tradition, and more. This book will have you thinking about a lot of things for a very long time.Highly recommended. This brilliant work is a book club must read. I want to thank the publisher, Flatiron Pres via edelweiss for the free advance e-reader copy in exchange for my honest review.
  • (4/5)
    First, let me say that I rarely read memoirs - it's just not something that I enjoy. I am so glad that I made an exception with this book. Ruth Wariner's story is one that will stay in my mind. How she survived her childhood is amazing. At the start of her book, she tells us that she is the 39th of her father's 42 children and is part of a polygamous cult in Mexico. She lived in a run down home with no electricity with her mom and brothers and sisters, several of whom were special needs kids, she was a happy child even as her family's life spun out of control. The book was amazing and even though it was difficult to read in parts, I am very glad that I read it. The author does an amazing job of telling her story and the one word that comes to mind when I think of her is RESILIENCE.