Coming of age, Dominguez Greene-Michelle, Family dynamics, Fiction, Social Commentary

#576 Keep Sweet by Michelle Dominguez Greene

Keep Sweet by Michelle Dominguez GreeneKeep Sweet by Michelle Dominguez Greene

Alva was raised in a way that would seem strange to many. She had a father and she had a mother, but her father also had other wives. Alva and her family belong to a the FLDS community in Pineridge. Alva’s mother is the favorite wife, even though she is the fourth wife, but things soon propel Alva and her family into a place of dishonor.

Alva has a sweetheart. She’s fifteen and likes a boy. They plan to be married, but this is the brotherhood, people don’t choose their own spouses the prophet chooses. Being alone with a boy is a sin and when Sister Cora sees Alva and her boyfriend simply having a small peck on the lips. Alva is whipped as if where were a child and locked inside of a barn. After this, she is forced to marry a man who is much older than her. This man also happens to have multiple wives already.

Alva is raped on her “wedding” night and summarily after on many nights. She knows she has to leave. She hears a young girl in her family, a ten-year old, will soon be married to the prophet. The girl in question already has learning disabilities and Alva knows she cannot let her be married. Alva thinks up an escape plan and hopes that it works.

What I liked

A fictional work geared towards teenagers about the FLDS community is an interesting take on the whole thing. I think it was a neat gamble on Michelle’s part to write this. Most of the writing about the FLDS community is non-fiction. This book will almost take a place in historical fiction as time goes on.

What I didn’t like

Michelle supposedly did a lot of research to write this book. I’ve read many of the same books Michelle did for her research. What I don’t understand is how she got so far off. I understand changing the prominent names of community members in the FLDS community. I understand changing the name of the community. What I don’t understand are the things Michelle changed about the community and the religion. The religion according to Michelle is less FLDS and more of a mixture of the Amish life, the FLDS life, and the mainstream Mormon life.

Michelle included some things that are not factual in regards to the community. Several instances are Michelle calling the group of men “the brotherhood” instead of calling it “the priesthood.” She said there were earth stones and moon stones and whatever on the temple. To be clear, there are certain symbols that tend to be on LDS, and probably FLDS, temples, but I’ve never heard of earth stones. There is a sun stone. The FLDS boys typically do not go on missions. Mainstream LDS members would not say, “Until death do us part,” in regards to their marriage, they would say, “forever.”

Michelle depicts the FLDS as if they were Amish. Look, they may grow some of their own food. They may make their own bread. With all of this said, they’re more modern than all of that. They buy food from the store, like you and me. They get in their BMWs(Big Mormon Wagons) and go to the darn grocery store.

Michelle was correct about the FLDS abusing the welfare system; it’s something that does happen.

Girls are forced into underage marriages, but usually not at the ages of ten and eleven.

I don’t see why Michelle changed the names’ of the Jeffs family. Look, they’re dicks, and they’re in prison. Why change their names? Leave their names as is. What are they going to do–break out of prison and come get you for saying they’re terrible dicks in your fictional book? You have freedom of speech and everybody knows they’re dicks, so it’s not even like it’s anything close to slander because everyone knows it’s true.

Michelle got a lot wrong and I don’t know if it was on purpose or through lack of research.



Weigh In

What role do you think this book could play for an average teenager?

If an organization is less than desirable, is it ok to falsify information about it?


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