The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

This book made me angry. It enraged me and elicited emotions I long buried. Ruth Wariner was born and raised into a polygamous family.  Her mother, the former wife of a church leader who was later murdered by one of his brothers in the fight for power, remarries another church follower.

the-sound-of-gravel

Ruth’s engrossing narrative begins here- with a meager life of helping her mother with domestic chores such as cooking, cleaning and raising her growing number of siblings and half-siblings. In her memoir, Ruth recounts the despicable and painful details of the neglect and abuse she suffered at the hands of the very people that she entrusted the most. The depth of Ruth’s familial loyalty, her brave young soul and her ability to forgive are what is truly inspiring but it is also what ends up hurting your heart- page after page. For every former child who has ever felt the enduring failure of a parent, this book will test your spirit of forgiveness and may reignite those long forgotten memories.

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

in-order-to-liveWith North Korea as this books backdrop and a harrowing true story of survival and escaping the unthinkable, this book grabs you by your ear on the very first page. Little has ever been known of this private, contained and systematic country but in this enigmatic memoir, Yeonmi Park, describes in tragic detail the normality of her daily life as she remembers it. Her suffering is only punctuated further by her innocence of what she imagined normal life to be like everywhere else in the world. She talks about simple luxuries we, in North America, take for granted like being allowed to wear a pair of jeans, watching television and the joys of eating a raspberry (something she didn’t even know existed until she escaped her former home).

Under the North Korean dictatorship, Yeonmi and her close-knit family slowly began to realize that staying in North Korea would only lead to negative and possibly detrimental outcomes. Their endless trials in a time when hope waned so thin and all the times that fate had escaped their grasp is what truly makes this a heartbreaking and unbelievable tale to read. Yeonmi’s strong reserve, survival instincts and indomitable spirit makes her the only heroine you want to root for, and you do- long after you finish the book.