The Witness Wore Red
The 19th wife, on her wedding day; photo courtesy of Rebecca Musser.

Rebecca Musser didn’t realize her childhood was abnormal. She grew up in a dark basement with dozens of full and half siblings, wearing prairie-style dresses and preparing for the day when she would be “given away” to a man four times her age. The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (a.k.a. FLDS, an extreme sect of Mormonism) was the only community she knew--and its culture of ritualized abuse and polygamy seemed inevitable.

Fortunately, Musser had the strength not only to leave that community but also to speak out against it, and her incredible story is the subject of a fascinating--if harrowing--new book.

In The Witness Wore Red, Musser details a lot of stuff you might find unfathomable--her teenage marriage to an 85-year-old “prophet” (she was his 19th spouse), her complicated relationships with her many sister-wives, her limited contact with an “evil” outside world. But perhaps most admirable was her struggle to break away from the church and form her own identity. Ultimately, she served as a key witness against an abusive cult leader now imprisoned for life. But her journey was arduous and her bravery astounding.

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be born into such a radical world view, Musser’s tale is definitely worth a read.

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