Lost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs

lostboybook

Lost Boy
By Brent W. Jeffs, Maia Szalavitz
Publisher: Broadway
ISBN13: 9780767931779
Pages: 241
Genre: Nonfiction/Autobiography

Synopsis:

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.


thoughts

This is my first review of a nonfiction title. I am attempting to provide you with nothing more than a few thoughts and my experience during my time with this book. Please be warned that this book does include sensitive material such as sexual abuse.

Until recently, it was a very rare occasion that any autobiography or memoir would capture my attention, let alone make an appearance on the blog. But I am a mood reader, and my mood has been changing. I find myself desiring to know more. Often my chosen topics are those that many might not understand. Although I do know that you are out there. It just doesn’t always go over as well to discuss darker subjects during a lunch date or at your kid’s ball practice.

I openly admit to harboring a strong fascination with cults and religious based followings of unhealthy nature. FLDS and polygamy have been a subject of intrigue for many years, largely due in part to my continuing interest in the human psych. The unyielding followers and devotion found within FLDS arguably and easily fall within the classifications and realm of cult behavior.  Also as a woman and mother, I find myself personally challenging to the concept of polygamy with many unanswered “why’s” and “how’s”. So after a recent documentary that shared a portion of Brent’s story and a look at the FLDS leader and so-called “Prophet” Warren Jeffs, picking this book up made complete sense. I feel no need to provide a recap, as the synopsis is sufficient and thorough.

I do want to specify at this point that I am not comparing FLDS (The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) to LDS who have since disowned many of the practices that are still found within FLDS, such as polygamy. I understand that there is a difference and do not pretend to be an expert in either, nor is this review an attempt to pass judgement on anyone’s religion. With that said, here are my thoughts on the book itself:

Lost Boy is an autobiography of one young man’s life inside and outside of FLDS. It lifts the veil, revealing insight into a world that is hard to grasp and understand. It is a story of manipulation, fear, abuse, loss and survival. It is not an easy read at the best of times, but it is a worthy read.

I found myself in deep appreciation of how much history and back story is actually contained within this book. It was not what I expected, but a welcomed surprise. We are presented with more than a sad and harrowing tale. We are given the working knowledge to understand why our author’s life was so hard and how it came to be for him and so many others. Instead of simply explaining that there was abuse and mistreatment, he shows the reader how it was all possible. We are provided a glimpse into the life of FLDS members that enables us to piece together the true manipulation that is occurring and how such a following began. We learn how fear and religion have been twisted and used against those who were so devoted. We learn how one man, Warren Jeffs, still manages a tenacious and detrimental hold on so many lives even now from prison.

The are many triggers in this book, as Brent makes a conscious effort to be open and forthright. As I mentioned, this not a gentle read. It is every bit candid as it is personal. A childhood of abuse is brought forth, but not without also honestly mentioning the times that there was still happiness. He acknowledges that amidst the chaos there was love and a sense of belonging. There is a simple and raw honesty that enables the reader to not only see but understand. My heart mourned as he described how difficult it was to separate from something so harmful because he knew nothing else. He was so integrated that the prospect of life outside the Church had become terrifying and isolating. He bravely exposes his own harsh reality and struggles that include drug use and bad decisions. There is no saving face. Simply what was and is. This is a story of real life within the FLDS and the ramifications.

I admire Brent’s decision to not only share his personal experience, but the reality of what it was/is to be raised FLDS. The choice to expose and address the years of brainwashing and abuse could not have come easily nor without cost. Lost Boy challenges us to look beyond our own comfort and see from the other side of the curtain. I recommend this to anyone who desires to learn and gain more knowledge of cults within a religious settings and the effects of them on youth, families and the society that those who manage to escape must reenter.

*I had a lot of issues with formatting and corrections while writing this and have honestly given up. So I apologize if it is a bit of a mess.

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63 thoughts on “Lost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs

  1. I can imagine this was riveting and deeply disturbing. I have a huge wing of my family who are members of LDS and I find a lot of their deep seated beliefs quite disturbing if I’m honest and they are nowhere near as extreme as FLDS (who I have only read about). This was a wonderful review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Claire. It was a challenge. I find myself deeply disturbed by the revelations in this title, but I also try to walk that fine line when religion is involved. I am not one to judge others so it can be tricky. But this was definitely an eye opener.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s hard when you find things disturbing not to judge but you also have to keep an open mind and allow for others beliefs. It can be very messy! I find it very difficult and have to give myself a talking to sometimes when I realise I’m leaning to judgey in the way I may be speaking and remind myself that people are entitled to think whatever they like even if I totally disagree!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I find myself always drawn to learning about these topics (and other darker subjects). I think it is just that human curiosity to try to understand the human mind and how and why things like this can happen. If you saw some of my true crime collection (including serial killers) you might be like.. wth? Hahah 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m obsessed with these type of things! I usually only watch documentaries or movies based on real-life situations. However, I never read a book and I think this one might be my first one. I might give it a shot. It sounds like a hard realistic read. Great review Danielle!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you lovely! This is a great read because he is so open. He doesn’t try to paint himself in some grand light. I really appreciated how thorough he was with the history as well. It is not very long. There are a few family photos also, which is always interesting. Please let me know if you pick it up!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds like something I would like to read. As a Christian, I am always interested in other religions and other Christian denominations. I am often troubled by how religion is portrayed in books and movies etc. but it doesn’t do anyone any good to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that dishonest people don’t use religion to cover up evil intent and prey on genuine believers. I’m going to see if this one is in my public library.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts after reading this. Even if you chose not to review. I feel like it is a very honest and thorough story. And I agree that burying our heads or pretending that even religion is not misused is not helpful. Let me know if you find a copy!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This sounds like a fascinating but disturbing read, Danielle. You have done an excellent job of reviewing it. Have you ever read the book Child of Satan, Child of God by Susan Atkins. She was one of the Manson Girls responsible for murdering Sharon Tate.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am the *exact* same about non-fiction- and only recently have been changing my reading habits to accommodate these sorts of books- I think it’s down to being a mood reader too!! And yes, I’m fascinated by cults too- I like to watch documentaries about them- but only ever read one YA book that featured them- this book sounds fascinating!! Great review! And I’m excited that you’re reading non-fic now cos it’ll mean I’ll get to grow my tbr even more 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am slowing branching into more non-fiction. A lot of it is centered around true crime ate the moment. But I am hoping to find some memoirs and other topics that I can enjoy 🙂 There will probably be more cult centered reads in the works haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I openly admit to harboring a strong fascination with cults and religious based followings of unhealthy nature. FLDS and polygamy have been a subject of intrigue for many years, largely due in part to my continuing interest in the human psych. -> I could’ve written this haha

    Maybe now that Im reading some nonfiction…I could try this one. Im also curious about the polygamist stuff, I don’t know how they can handle it lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is an interesting topic “FLDS”. I would suggest exploring it. There is some serious cult culture. When you discover books such as this that shed some insight on how it all began, it is extremely interesting because you to start understand (not agree though) with how people are so manipulated. I would love to hear some thoughts if you read anything pertaining to FLDS!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds pretty intense, but I’m glad to see how much you enjoyed a genre that you say having never really had an interest to dive into. I do love darker subjects and love reading the context and reality behind them. Not only do they provide so much knowledge on things that actually happen, they also show us how things come to be. I’d definitely keep an eye out for this one if I ever come across it in the future! Fantastic and honest review Danielle! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 This was the perfect book for some actual knowledge of how Warren Jeffs developed such a devoted following. I was pleasantly surprised with how much history and clarity was provided. I was expecting more of just Brent’s story. But he took time to provide a lot of insight. So while it is certainly rough around the edges, it is worth reading. I will be digging further into this subject for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It can certainly be heavy. And yes having the right mood before going in will greatly alter your experience with this one. I tend to find that true with all non-fiction. Well all books for me. But I think we have both discussed being real mood readers before 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ooof, that is some heavy content. I actually live in UT, so this story is interesting to me. There is a very strong LDS presence here, which is NOT AT ALL the same thing as FLDS, but I have heard a lot about this story on the local news and stuff. I feel like I need to read more non-fiction, but I want to ease my way into it, I think. You jumped right on in there, so go you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂 I did dive right in and found it to be very refreshing. I am not normally into nonfiction, but am discovering a few topics of interest. I do find that I have to clarify often when this particular subject comes up that there is certainly a difference between FLDS and LDS. I hope I managed to convey that in the review. I really worry about not doing so as it could certainly become a sensitive subject.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I was looking forward to your thoughts on this book since I last saw you were reading it… You really did a great job with the review.. I don’t think I’d be able to take a step back and remain … ‘gracious’… after reading this book. But it seems this book is really well written with all the necessary detail to understand, albeit a difficult subject matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a hard read to review. I admit to feeling a lot of anger while pouring through this one. It is well written in the fact that he is very honest about all sides and provides so much insight. With that said, it is also a raw read written exactly as he tells is. A new, but welcomed experience for me.

      Like

  10. I love this fabulous and difficult review! I also find those cults and their practices fascinating. I find it great that the book manages to give you a full picture of the church and what was happening, with details and background, and not just the tale of one side, that might have been lacking in some sort to better understand the whole thing. You’ve done a great job, Twin Pea! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Twin Pea ❤

      A tough read and challenging review. But I feel this is a book you have to read to fully appreciate how sincere he is. He is so open and honest. He admits to the good and does not deny his own short comings. It provides a much deeper understanding!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I know we already discussed this a bit via Goodreads, but I’m so glad to see your thoughts here as well!

    I completely understand how your mood reading might be changing. For me, life has been incredibly overwhelming lately, so my mood reading has less non-fiction (there used to be quite a bit) and more fantasy/sci-fi. Non-fiction can be very powerful. I hope you find a series of non-fiction books you enjoy! Do you listen to audiobooks? I find that audiobooks are the way I most appreciate non-fiction. It allows me to spend more time thinking about the real content of the book since I’m not using brain power reading the words.

    While the concepts of this story are dark, scary, and overwhelming I really appreciate that his story explains how such terrible things could happen. Often, I find that people just ignore what they don’t like, or that they assume it couldn’t happen to them. That aspect alone makes me want to read this. Great review, as always! You are a rock star.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was a stellar read for me! I think you would appreciate certain aspects of it very much. The idea that he was so simple and honest. He didn’t hide his own flaws or even that fact that he struggled to leave even after what happened to him.

      Very insightful in the fact that is is a good look at how these things can actually happen!

      I do have some true crime cases on audio that I enjoy while working. I also like podcasts occasionally.

      Thank you so much ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, this is definitely on my TBR now. Speaking of, I will probably listen to the audiobook– that would give me more space to think on these ideas. This, and reading love, and you will just show me so much about how challenging it is to leave emotionally damaging situations. (<3 you Gretchen)

        Liked by 1 person

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