05 November 2008 ~ 0 Comments

(Book) What Peace There May Be by Susanna Barlow


I feel like I should start this by saying that I had to read this book shortly after it came in because the cover was freaking me out. I watched this one show in passing and there was a small scene that stuck with me. It was on this show called “On The Lot” and there was a short film called Eternal Waters. In that, there is a scene in the beginning where there’s a kid under water with his eyes open. Looking at it now, the similarities aren’t all that close, but for whatever reason, the cover of this book creeps me out and reminds me of that. The glossy cover with the water droplets and the sad, still little girl just kept me flipping it over so I didn’t have to look at it. I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing, just noteworthy to me. I will definitely be sending this on to someone else to haunt πŸ™‚

The text of the book is a little like diary entries, it feels like random entries about days of her life. It’s very sad in many ways. This child had 40-some siblings and I lost count of all the mothers. I kept wanting her to run to CPS or someone and tell, to make the situation better. I found myself urging her along to do the right thing not only for the babies in that household, but for herself. I wanted her to get out of there, to live a real childhood, to enjoy ice cream with a normal handful of siblings. My heart broke and ached for her and her situation.

I didn’t like that the story wasn’t finished. What happened after that final phone call? I can imagine but I would have liked to have seen at least a summary of the events from there. Her website notes that she’s working on a second memoir, so I hope it picks up from there. I also checked out her blog, which was interesting. I can’t say I agree with some of what she says, but to each their own, I suppose – plus I was obviously raised differently πŸ™‚

When I first got this book, I thought the polygamy would play a larger part, but it was more of a backdrop for a horribly abusive situation. I was intrigued to watch her grow into herself a bit, be a little more forthcoming and realize that no, it’s NOT okay.

I will be looking for the 2nd book for sure.


Young Susanna doesn’t know anything other than the family environment that has been created for her – a system without regard for society or man’s laws. Raised in a sequestered home in a busy city neighborhood, everything beyond the front gate is off-limits.

The isolation proves to be a breeding ground for abuse, and Susanna struggles to reconcile her desire to escape and her need to belong. The book recounts six critical years in Susanna’s life as she comes to terms with her conditions.

This coming-of-age story is as much a testament to survival as it is to surrender. Pushed to the limits of her coping abilities, Susanna tries anything she can to bring about the peace that seems always out of reach.

In an impulsive moment and an act of daring she contacts a newspaper journalist and finds herself in a predicament she never before considered. That decision becomes the impetus that propels her finally to where she wants to be and to find what was always there.

In this honest memoir, the author conveys the deep struggles she must face to navigate her unusual childhood and to overcome obstacles of abuse as well as the isolation that polygamy requires. It is a journey that challenges the strength of hope and proves that the smallest acts can wield the mightiest power.

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