Thursday, October 14, 2010

Another beautiful day in South Florida. We are loving this weather! We drove down to the Upper Keys to watch the Texans win :-) on Sunday afternoon. We sat outside and looked out on the ocean and checked out the small boats as couples and families came in to have a late lunch and watch the various games. No worries about having to cover up your kids' Halloween costumes with winter coats or add snow boots like in Michigan's UP like we often did as kids.

My morning reading has been a beautifully written YA novel about a very disturbing community and a teen who lives there. Keep Sweet. Sounds like an enduring tidbit to say to someone you love as you depart, doesn't it? This assumption may be what causes a reader to pick up Michele Dominguez Greene's Keep Sweet. Keep true. Keep silent. - Also on the cover, in smaller print but as intriguing as the innocent sounding title, beckoning the reader to open the book to read the blurb on the jacket flap where "KEEP SWEET ALVA JANE, ABOVE ALL. jumps out at you. Very disconcerting - a kind of disconcerting that made me keep reading when I realized just how awful this "term of endearment" really is. It is a warning to the females of the walled in polygamist community of Pineridge, Utah to remain passive and willing. Willing to be married off to a much older man, to become sister wives as soon as the young teens have their first period - the sign they are old enough to marry and bear children - the more the better. Only a man's first wife is his legal wife, with the remaining sister wives collecting welfare for their children. Alva Jane's mother, the 4th wife, has had 12 children since her marriage at age 14. The sister wives may appear to get along at first glance, but there is animosity and jealous as they vie for their husband's nightly visits, smug when it occurs more often than their "allotted" nights. Fourteen-year-old Alva Jean's relatively calm life changes forever when she does the most forbidden thing a young woman in this fundamentalist polygamist community can do - she fell in love with a young man. In her excitement about their future together when her young man happily tells Alva Jane that he has his father's approval to talk to her father about marrying her, this innocent teen impulsively kisses him but her head is viciously snapped back by her father's legal wife who has been spying on her. The young man is hauled into the desert by the "fathers" of the community and viciously beaten. The reader doesn't learn what happens to him until the very end of the book, but my hopes were confirmed. Alva Jane is also severely beaten and married off to an abusive 55 year old man who has recently beaten one wife so severely that she is permanently crippled - she will never attempt escape again. He takes great pleasure in sexually, physically and mentally abusing Alva Jane but she has become a strong young woman who will defy all odds. Keep True. Keep Silent. Keep Sweet. Six simple words that now raise the hair on my arms. Now to find a copy of Greene's debut novel, Chasing the Jaguar.