"A distinct original."
"...Of great interest."
"An interesting look at an unconventional way of life."
"'A remarkable testimony to a religious faith that can take in the strangest and harshest of circumstances. It also attests to the universal hunger for order and community, the need to belong, that has sustained the Mormon church through years of persecution and poverty.''
''Mrs. Solomon's return from alienation to her family's tradition and faith is moving, for it expresses the impulse to retain and affirm a sense of the basic relationships of her life. . . . She writes movingly and skillfully of the way in which an acceptance of the tradition from which she comes has been essential to building a new life in her own generation.''
--Mary Catherine Bateson, New York Times
''[Solomon's] autobiography gives us a glimpse into the conflicts, comforts, and daily life of this group of people, about whom most of us know little, and her book is of interest for that reason alone. The matter-of-fact style in her portraits of her extended family makes intelligible an extraordinary group.'' --Library Journal"
“I would have thought it would be asking too much that someone with a story to tell that is this interesting would at the same time be a gifted writer, but that is the case here. Her observations and descriptions capture the reader’s interest immediately. They are fresh and alive. Many of her phrases are poetry. After reading the manuscript I felt I had taken a significant journey—rather like I felt when I visited Russia as a naïve college student and found prejudice suddenly replaced by humanity. The Mormon fundamentalists came to life and my appreciation of this phenomenon deepened enormously.”
—Carol Lynn Pearson, judge, Utah Original Writing Contest
While much of this book is most comprehensible to the Mormon reader, it has diverse appeal as an account of a woman’s coming-of-age, a description of a a secretive subculture and an indication of some of the psychological strains that underlie Mormonism’s sunny surface. Dorothy Solomon has a gift for significant detail and the nuances of personality, and the book is strongest when it treats character and relationship within her rather singular family.This book is deeply worthwhile, for both its content and its compassion, expressed in terms of real human lives.
—C.L. Rawlins, Western American Literature, Volume XX, No. 1
This is not an apologist’s defense of polygamy, nor is it an expose of sordid, secret practices. It is, rather, a straightforward look at things as they were for a girl growing up in unusual circumstances—with seven “mothers” and some 47 brothers and sisters. More than that, it is the story of a woman at odds with her world, trying to come to terms with herself. And as such, it is compelling reading. In My Father’s House received the 1981 biography and 1982 publishing awards of the Utah Arts Council Original Writing Competition, honors well deserved both for writing style and content. With honesty and forthrightness, the author opens to the reader a closed world—a world filled with unusual people, perhaps, but people still the same who need empathy and understanding.
—Carma Wadley, Deseret News, December 1984.
“Mrs. Solomon’s return from alienation to her family’s tradition and faith is moving, for it expresses the impulse to retain and affirm a sense of the basic relationships of her life. She loved and respected her parents and her aunts—although not all equally—and treasures the memories of a childhood in which she was at least sometimes happy. She writes movingly and skillfully of the way in which an acceptance of the tradition from which she comes has been essential to building a new life in her own generation.
—Mary Catherine Bates, “The Uses of Polygamy The New York Times Book Review, February 24, 1985.
Solomon's work is far from the sometimes maddeningly prosaic crowd of memoirs by people recounting small triumphs and plain glories. As the 28th of 48 children born to a polygamist, Solomon tells her astonishing tale with so much emotional clarity and raw honesty that the Utah dirt she played in seems wedged between the pages. Because this is a story about Solon's staggeringly large family, she launches into a great deal of family history, tracing the clan's polygamist past recounting the recriminations and threats of arrest that color each generation. She describes her father, Rulon Allred, with a subtle combination of attraction and repulsion, giving polygamy a human face while showing how flawed that countenance can be.
...when she begins to lay bare her personal history, the book crackles with new life. The writing style, a gentle
cadence full of detail, serves the story well, as when the author, who was born in 1949, describes her family as being
like the deer in the mountains above Salt Lake Valley: "For the most part we were shy, gentle creatures who kept to
ourselves, ruminants chewing on our private theology, who dealt with aggression by freezing or running." As Solomon
tells of the struggles of the wives her father had, and the hard times they endured as the authorities sought to enforce
antipolygamy laws, she delves deeply into matters of identity, belonging, persecution, and independence.
Forecast: The Elizabeth Smart case may have renewed interest in polygamy and readers seeking a first-person account of that world could gravitate to this. ...more literary than sensational....
Solomon opens her memoir with the startling revelation that she is the 28th of her father's 48 children. The daughter
of a fourth-generation polygamist, she grew up in a world alternately filled with love and fear. In the abundant years,
she basked in her father's attention on fishing trips and shared the attention of the mothers. In the darker periods,
she and her family members hid from prying neighbors or were scattered across several states, living on the edge of
poverty. Solomon provides a remarkably balanced account of the contradictions and pressures she experienced from within
her family and from the surrounding culture. She portrays her father as a gentle doctor filled with the conviction that
he was upholding the true Mormon faith and as a man capable of making selfish and blind decisions. She also records the
hypocrisies and violence of fellow Mormons and government officials in their campaigns against polygamy. The inclusion
of historical accounts of her grandparents' and great-grandparents' lives as polygamists provides a necessary context
for understanding her love for her family and the difficult choices she faced. Recommended for all libraries.
"In Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk, Dorothy Solomon has opened the door to what lives inside fundamentalism of any kind. In so doing, we recognize the complexity and danger embodied in those individuals who believe in "the one and only truth." Writing with compassion and an uncommon wisdom, Solomon leads us through the labyrinth of one woman's creative hunger for identity in a culture where women are not only hidden but invisible."
—Terry Tempest Williams, author of Refuge and Leap
"At once redemptive and deeply tragic, Predators, Prey, and Other Kinfolk is a saga so stirring, so epic in scale, that it can hardly be contained in these pages. Dorothy Solomon's courage is matched by her graceful writing. This is a lovely and shattering book."
—Brady Udall, author of The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint
"Dorothy Solomon has taken a subject that is foreign to most of us, and very kindly and gently made it comprehensible. Here is a wise and moving memoir that should be read by anyone interested in how we configure our relationships in the name of love and power."
—Judith Freeman, author of Red Waters and The Chinchilla Farm
"Boldly and strongly imagined, Predators, Prey and Other Kinfolk takes us deep into the heart of a family story that is both strange and familiar, simple and complex. Whether writing of the Mormon religion that defined her polygamist existence or profiling the patriarchal father whose words and actions could both wound and heal, Solomon remains open to the hard truths."
—Kim Barnes, author of In This Wilderness
"I have never read a memoir that moved me so deeply. The questions Dorothy Solomon asks strike at the heart of the human experience. How does one "honor thy Father and thy Mother" when one cannot share many of their deepest convictions? Solomon honors her progenitors, and her journey redefines what it means to know, to love, to honor, and to transcend."
—Teresa Jordan, author of Riding the White Horse Home
This rich personal story goes deeper into the ongoing world of polygamy than we've ever been. Dorothy Solomon's book lives very near the hidden place where sex meets politics."
—Ron Carlson, author of the Hotel Eden and the upcoming A Kind of Flying
"What a hypnotically strange and dreamlike world Dorothy Solomon describes. I came away from this fascinating account of life in polygamy the way one does from some dreams—with one's context somehow altered, another way of seeing."
—Lynn Freed, author of House of Women
"Predators Prey, and Other Kinfolk is an amazing story. Dorothy Allred Solomon recounts the nearly incomprehensible history of a woman growing up in a polygamous, fugitive family. She tells of the unyielding power of God, of father, of denial—and ultimately of truth—with courage, a deep sense of responsibility, and a loving and even hand."
—Pam Houston, author of Cowboys Are My Weakness and Waltzing the Cat
Solomon, the daughter of a polygamous, fundamentalist Mormon, could well have called her story Secrets and Lies to
indicate the tenor of the early life that she looks back on with remarkable clarity and even humor. The twenty-eighth
of forty-eight children, she was instilled, as were her many brothers, by her father with the sense of the family's
difference, which the world beyond its circle, even most other Mormons (the church officially abolished polygamy in 1890),
wouldn't welcome. Although an inquisitive, sensitive child with a strong desire to stake an individual claim in the
world, she also suffered an identity crisis, which in the social context of "plural wives" (which Mormons termed their
practice) is perhaps understandable. Exacerbating her crisis was living in the constant fear that her family would be
discovered by a government raid, torn asunder, and driven into poverty while fleeing ever-encroaching authorities.
Eventually, she fell in love, chose monogamous marriageand many members of her family disowned her. A rare story,
indeed, told with much grace and humility.
Dorothy Allred Solomon is the twenty-eighth of 48 children born to the many wives of Mormon fundamentalist sect leader
Rulon Allred, who was assassinated in 1977 by religious rivals. She is a profoundly wise-souled refugee from an old,
weird, mostly invisible corner of Americaone where the Old Testament stylings of Mormon passion confronted the
wild American West. Her harrowing family history and bracingly vivid, frequently poetic memoir, Predators, Prey, and
Other Kinfolk: Growing Up in Polygamy (Norton) is a document of consistent fascination and intermittently
astonishing power. To read this book is to shape-shift into premodern, larger-than-life beliefs and emotionsand
also to relive their consequences, if only for a few moments.
An unusual memoir from the daughter of Mormon fundamentalists who maintained the Principle of Plural Marriage long after the church officially abolished it. "I am the only daughter of my father's fourth plural wife, twenty-eighth of forty-eight childrena middle kid, you might say, with the middle kid's propensity for identity crisis.", writes Solomon. Polygamy was illegal, of course; in 1945, four years before the author was born, her father stood trial and went to prison.... Throughout Solomon's childhood, the family was forced to scatter to various states and across the border into Mexico. Solomon writes of great loneliness; when the family was separated, months would go by without a visit from her father. And while the author's own full-siblings and mother survived, some of her half-siblings weren't so fortunate. Major and minor transgressions had to be denied; the family did everything possible to avoid contact with the authorities.... Solomon began questioning the fundamentalist doctrine as a teenager, eventually joining the mainstream Mormon church. She made a monogamous marriage to a Vietnam veteran with whom she had four children. She turned to writing as a way to understand her past, couching her narratives as fiction in order to protect her family. Just as she made peace with her charismatic father, a rival fundamentalist group murdered him in 1977....Intriguing domestic particulars of a little-known way of life.
Solomon chronicles the hardships and costs of polygamy, but she also writes respectfully and affectionaly of her childhood. . . . [Daughter of the Saints] will find a large readership because polygamy is intriguing for most of us, and because Solomon's prose is clean and forceful and lovely. But readers who pick up this memoir merely because they are titillated by the topic of polygamy will find that they are drawn in by the deeper story Solomon tells. She has written a memoir that is, to be sure, captivating in its polygamous particulars. But more importantly, she has written a memoir about universal things, about how to tell the truth and about the hard road of family love.
A remarkable tale. . . .[Solomon] is outspoken and frank, free of the dissembling to avoid prosecution that she calls 'practicing Mormon logic.'
Probably the best book ever written about polygamy. It is neither an apologia for polygamy nor an exposé. . . . It is a psychological study about how polygamy shapes those trapped in it, even willingly. . . . [T]his is, we know from the opening sentence, a writer we can believe.
As one who has suffered its trauma, [Solomon] is especially qualified to tackle the subject in all its ethical and emotional complexity. . . . Solomon is too respectful of the sanctity of individual conscience, and too subtle in her intelligence, to stoop to silly generalizations or sensationalistic clichés about the roots of religious violence.
Unflinching....Solomon tells a rare story with breathtaking clarity.
What makes [Daughter of the Saints] so admirable and appealing is how resolutely it avoids sensationalism and how fairly and sympathetically it attempts to describe the inner and outer struggles of living with an adored, patriarchal daddy....The book is remarkably honest about the rivalries and sacrifices endured by plural wives, and about the heavy price paid by their sons and daughters. But ultimately, Solomon ... is less interested in passing judgment or assigning blame than in illuminating the human faces of the men, women, and children who inhabit this hidden and mysterious corner of our culture.
In spite of all the troubles she chronicles, Solomon's recollections of her father ... are suffused with warmth and affection. Her descriptions of the natural beauty of Utah rise to the level of poetry. Solomon has an extraordinary memory for childhood incidents and feelings. When coupled with material gleaned from family journals, it enables her to recreate not simply her own growing-up but also an incredibly rich and convoluted social order that has seldom been depicted from the inside.
Solomon's richly textured writing about what her eyes have seen captivates the mind and heart, providing a rare opportunity to glimpse and American family life vastly different from most of ours.
Startling and personal. . . . A starkly revealing autobiographical 'tell-all' exposé of contemporary polygamy that also speaks of the author's dedicated striving to find God's path as a woman caught up in a patriarchal fringe society.
Powerful.... Written clearly, gracefully, and succinctly.
An eerily compelling insider's view. . . . A remarkable look at female identity within plural marriage.
Exceptional....Amazing and true.