The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
Ruth Wariner’s memoir is Dramatic. With a (purposeful) capital D. Not because she is dramatic — the opposite, in fact — but because of the world she was born into. Raised in a polygamist family, Wariner’s story is one of chaos, envy, pride, murder, abuse, and just straight up shenanigans. Although an intriguing topic, THE SOUND OF GRAVEL really missed the mark for me.
WHAT I LOVED: Despite Wariner’s terribly dark and complicated family life, her ability to clearly write a compelling story was successful. Her very upbringing alone was cause for some deeper questions about humanity and the choices we make based in both fear and pride.
WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE: While I appreciated the clarity of content, her writing was lacking. It read more like a memoir written for a high school English class than a professionally published literary work. Wariner’s imagery was (for the most part) shallow, and I struggled to hear the depth of her voice within her daily struggle.
Honestly, my biggest beef with this story was the lack of conclusion. There was so much trauma that happened in her life and only about two paragraphs dedicated to a half-hearted illustration of the healing process that ensued after leaving Mexico. I felt like I was taken on the craziest roller coaster ride that stopped abruptly with no warning. I struggled to detox and heal alongside of her because there was no real opportunity given.
As much as I learned and grew my worldview from this book, I actually wished I hadn’t finished this one. I left me in a pretty bad state of mind. I know it’s her prerogative what part of her story she wants to share, but I’m even more convicted now that the most moving memoirs are ones with a strong undertone of hope.
Overall, while interesting and unique, not a winner for me.
Unless you are fascinated by this niche topic, I wouldn’t recommend the book. Particularly for the following trigger warnings and lack of resolve.
*Trigger Warnings*: Death (parents & children), sexual & physical abuse, & child neglect.
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