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The Sound of Gravel

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  43,298 ratings  ·  5,004 reviews
A riveting, deeply affecting true story of one girl’s coming-of-age in a polygamist family.

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 G
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 5th 2016 by Flatiron Books
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Robin Completely. Ruth appeared at our library in December and we discussed the fact that readers never got the "poor little me, see what I survived" tone. …moreCompletely. Ruth appeared at our library in December and we discussed the fact that readers never got the "poor little me, see what I survived" tone. Ruth's love of her family (even her mother, but not her stepfather) and strong character came through loud and clear, and you will end up admiring her as much as we did. Do read it.(less)
Megan My local library lists it in their catalog as "in processing". It is likely that your local library is still working on entering this book into the sy…moreMy local library lists it in their catalog as "in processing". It is likely that your local library is still working on entering this book into the system. But, frankly, if your local library doesn't have something that you want to read, why don't you ask someone at the library instead of random people on the internet?(less)

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Anna LeBaron
Nov 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Sound of Gravel is RIVETING. I read it in two sittings and could hardly put it down until I had read the last page. It was like she was telling my own story, because in many ways she was. We both lived the same deprived childhoods in a polygamist cult that eventually turned violent and deadly. The scenes she described were all too familiar to me, reminding me of my own very distant past.

I was given an Advance Reader Copy of this book by the author, who just happens to be my cousin.

Up until
Diane S ☔
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
My heart goes out to this young woman for her honesty, strength and courage in the writing of this memoir. I, no matter how much I read, will ever understand the mindset of women who join or become involved in cults or religions such as these when there is so little of benefit to themselves and their children. That this mother loved her children is apparent, she worked incredibly hard, tried to make things special at times, yet failed to defend them when they needed her most. I honestly don't ge ...more
Elyse  Walters
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ruth Wariner's memoir about her childhood should come with a warning:
GUARANTEED to keep you awake during sleeping hours.

Ruth grew up in LeBaron, Mexico....a small town in the Mexican countryside 200 miles south of El Paso, Texas, a fundamentalist Mormon family that believed in the
polygamist teaching. "The Colony", is what they called it. Her grandfather, Alma Dayer LaBaron was the founder in 1944.

I've read other stories and seen movies of polygamy 'compounds' in the United States. I've p
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Geez Louise! This is a heartbreaking memoir that made me sad and mad over and over again. Ruth Wariner's mother was a member of the LeBaron Mormon fundamentalist church based in Mexico. Ruth was the fourth of 10 children. Her father died when she was a baby, and her mother then became the second wife of a man who eventually had four wives and 24 children. There is no question that Ruth loved her mother, but as she recounts her story she doesn't present a rosy picture of the world in which her mo ...more

The rest of us followed silently, watching and listening as Mom took a wide step over the highway shoulder and onto the dirt road, the gravel crunching beneath her footsteps, the sound of home.

The Church of the Firstborn is a church founded by an excommunicated (LDS) Mormon by 1924, who was excommunicated for teaching / promoting and practicing plural marriage. While it is true that the LDS Mormon church at one time allowed plural marriage for approximately 60 years (almost twenty of those in “s
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)

id you ever wonder about those who were raised in a polygamist community? The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner is a firsthand account of a child growing up in a colony in rural Mexico. Ruth’s father was the founding prophet of the colony but he died when she was young leaving her to be raised by the textbook “evil” stepfather.

Her family lives in an unfinished house lacking indoor plumbing, electricity with no means of
Heidi The Reader
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Sound of Gravel is in the running for my favorite book club read this year! (Bull Mountain is the other pick I really enjoyed.) It is Ruth Warnier's memoir about her poverty stricken childhood in a polygamist cult in Mexico, her dysfunctional mother, abusive step-father, and struggle for survival along with her many siblings.

She pulls you in, first line: "I am my mother's fourth child and my father's thirty-ninth." pg 10, ebook. I read that sentence to my husband and his reaction was, "Are y
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic book. Anyone who knows my reading style knows that I'm not a huge fan of memoir. Honestly, I think most people who have written them are either too young or (and I don't think there's a good way to say this without sounding like an ass...) don't really have that much to say that I am interested in reading about. But when I heard about The Sound of Gravel, I was instantly intrigued: this is not your run-of-the-mill memoir.

This one will knock you off your feet. Ruth Wariner is ab
Diane Yannick
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh good heavens above. I read this book voraciously, ignoring the rest of my life completely. Ruth Wariner's courage is inconceivable. She grew up in a fanatical Mormon polygamist Doomsday cult in Mexico. The hardships (such a lame word for what she endured) were recounted without a single shred of self pity. She shares her riveting life story from her earliest memories as a child to her life as an adult. (Not enough about her current life so I'm hoping for a sequel.)

Ruth's mother was totally in
Jan 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This surprised me; it pulled me in much more than I ever thought it would.

All too often biographies are written more for the author themselves than for a public audience. This is not the case here. Ruth Wariner's book speaks of events that should be made public and will be of interest to many.

She speaks of what it is like to live in a fundamentalist Mormon community. We follow the first fifteen years of her life. Then, at fifteen and with four of her siblings in tow, Ruth Wariner left Colonia Le
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An open letter to Ruth Wariner.
Wow. What a story. What a life you were born into and what a strong young woman you were to endure and actually thrive. I could not put your memoir down until I finished it, as painful as it was in so many areas. Congratulations on surviving and best wishes for a happy ever after!
You deserve it more than you could know.

Adine Marc
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book in one sitting. I am one of Ervil LeBaron's youngest children. Ruth's father is my uncle Joel, my father's brother. Ruth Wariner, the author of this book, is my cousin. Ruth and I were not raised together, as our shared past runs on parallel tracks. As I read Ruth's words, I found echoes of my own childhood. The images her writing portrayed were so vivid to me, that at one point I almost could not finish. She tells her story of pain, abuse, and eventual freedom in an honest ...more
Kristy K
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

This is so disturbing, awful, heartbreaking, upsetting and a myriad of other negative emotions. What Ruth Wariner went through while growing up in a Mormon polygamist community (commune) was horrible and I am amazed that she was such a strong young girl who seems to have turned into an amazing person.
Ashley Considine
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought The Sound of Gravel was a great read. I found Ruth's story intoxicating and well-written (think Jeannette Walls, Glass Castle). Once the story line picked up steam, I couldn't put it down. It's amazing how well-adjusted Ruth seemed even at a young age amidst such chaos and injustice. Definitely recommend! ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Sound of Gravel is a memoir by Ruth Wariner about her childhood living in a Mormon polygamist community in Chihuahua Mexico during the 1970s. There are many trips to the United States to collect welfare checks and see grandparents so the setting frequently changes.

This is heavy, heavy stuff that this poor girl and her siblings went through. Her father is murdered by the ‘Mormon Manson’ right near the beginning of the book. Many of her siblings are born with birth defects. One sister is sent
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I saw a review of this (from Heidi the Hippie Librarian) around the same time I read and reviewed I Fired God: My Life Inside---and Escape from---the Secret World of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Cult and they seemed related, so I requested it from the library right away. Sometimes whimsy and impulse invert my tbr list and I'm not sorry.

This book will be a great read for anyone who got sucked into Big Love or Sister Wives (guilty.) This is the true story of Ruth(ie)'s childhood in Colonia
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I finished this last night and am a little stunned. Truly a phenomenal and believable story of a young girl's commitment to her family--well, except for Lane, he was the devil incarnate! The writing was great and the pace was breakneck; it was a combo of GLASS CASTLE, LIAR'S CLUB, and (near the end) Betty Mahmoody's NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER.

Put this on your TBR list for January and also remember this for book group recommendations. Older teens will also like this, especially fans of A CHILD CALL
Canadian Reader
This is the story of Ruth Wariner's 1970's childhood in a fundamentalist, polygamous community in northern Mexico. For me, at some point after page 100, the memoir turned into a page-turner about a train wreck of a plural Mormon marriage, but I admit that prior to that I regularly considered abandoning the book. Among other things, I found myself quite annoyed by the writing itself, particularly the endless dropped g's--tellin', talkin', followin'-- the gonna's and 'kay's, which were apparently ...more
Dorothy Goebel
Nov 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The inner workings of a polygamist colony would be fascinating without any other details. However, The Sound of Gravel shows us the personal side, the private side and all through the eyes of a young, brave girl. The author's understanding of her mother's motives and beliefs as well as her ability to separate the terribly wrong decisions from the love of her mother was riveting. This is a book I could not put down and actually stayed up half the night to finish. The author draws you into her fam ...more
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I wonder how many times Ruth Wariner’s writing was interrupted by tears as she recalled her childhood. The Sound of Gravelrecounts a lifestyle that I never imagined existed in this era – one that include polygamous marriages with multitudes of children and unspeakable poverty. She tells her story in a matter-of-fact style that I can only imagine reveals the strength that helped her survive her daily struggles as well as the abuse she endured for years at the hands of her stepfather.

Ruth was the
This memoir by Ruth Wariner is well written and very interesting. She documents her childhood, living as part of a polygamist sect in Mexico which was a hand to mouth existence in the 1980s.

The Sound of Gravel is not sensationalist but it does show a lifestyle where the assertion of faith and single-minded thinking overrode common sense, in the case of this family where the stepfather Lane had four wives, huge families, produced even more children and was an inept and unreliable provider. Ruth'
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent memoir about growing up in a polygamist family. Most people don't know a lot about polygamy except what they hear on the news in rare occasions or the current reality shows about certain families. I, for one, know there are multiple points of view about everything and because someone is in a polygamist family doesn't mean their life is the same as others in the same religion. This book was quite the eye opener for me with the little bit I've learned over the years and quite ...more
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
I was completely captivated by the author's story of growing up in a polygamist community in Mexico. She endured such incredibly difficult things including poverty and molestation by her step father and yet her story is told with such grace and forgiveness for those who could have changed things. She has such a love for her siblings and for her mom and it shone through. I was completely engrossed in her story. ...more
Sarah Beth
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I won an advance reading copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway.

This memoir recounts the author's experiences of growing up a polygamous family. Ruth was born the 39th of her father's 42 children. Her father was killed when she was young and her mother remarried another polygamous man. Ruth and her siblings were raised on a farm in rural Mexico. The details of her physical home - the family lived in extremely impoverished conditions without indoor plumbing, ramshackle or completely absent el
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
Ruth Wariner's memoir about growing up in a polygamist colony (cult!) in Mexico makes the Glass Castle look like the Crystal Palace. Ruth's story is outrageously harrowing, gut-wrenching, and crazy-making, and the fact that she got to a place where she could tell it is truly amazing. I hope I can catch her on tour - I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to give her an enormous hug. ...more
Ticcoa Leister
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to read an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of The Sound of Gravel!

Ruth Wariner has shared the gripping story of her childhood in a remarkably captivating way. Once you pick up this book, you won't be able to put it down.

I've already preordered my copy--can't wait to have it on my shelves!
Ingrid Lola
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The most dramatic and heartbreaking polygamy memoir I've read. And it's well written, too! ...more
This was a very well done and honest account by the author. I have read other memoirs about abuse but I had not read anything that was based on growing up in a family that believes in polygamy. I appreciated the author telling her story which was very hard to process the abuses, expectations and strains the author experienced as a child. I really commend her for being so transparent.
Terri Wino
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow. I don't even know how to describe how this book made me feel. I typically do not read memoirs, but it was a category on a reading challenge that I'm doing this year. I had read an article about this book and it sounded interesting, so decided to use it for the challenge. I sure had no idea what I was getting myself into!

I don’t want to spoil the progression of the story for anyone, so I'm not going to specify a lot of details, but this book made me feel a gamut of emotions. There were mome
Douglas Lord
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wariner begins her narrative at 5 years old, explaining that she is her mother's fourth child, her father's thirty-ninth, the product of polygamous Morman sect. While one of Ruth’s happiest memories is with her siblings eating “…a delicious dinner of warm bread, honey, and milk out of cereal bowls,” this ain’t no land of milk’n’honey. Mom and kids live in a cinder block shack in a colony in LeBaron, Mexico - 200 miles south of El Paso. Though there is running water, there’s no indoor bathroom or ...more
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RUTH WARINER lives in Portland, Oregon. At the age of fifteen, Wariner 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 ha ...more

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