This book was extremely hard to read, but also hard to put down.
The Sound of Gravel is the memoir of Ruth Wariner, a woman who spent the first fifteen years of her life in hell. Ruth was born into a poverty stricken, fundamentalist Mormon colony in rural Mexico in the 70s. Her father, who was killed when she was a baby, had 42 children. Ruth grew up with her mom, nine siblings, and step-father. They lived in a tiny house with a dirt floor and no indoor plumbing or electricity. Mouse droppings on the kitchen floor and wind blowing through the mud walls of the house were the norm.
Ruth's mother blindly adhered to their church's belief that a woman's path to heaven was to live in polygamy and have as many babies as possible. She didn't see any reason to educate her girls beyond how to take care of a future husband and children. While Ruth was still a child herself, she was expected to help take care of her younger siblings. As a mom, this was the hardest part to read. I don't think any of these kids ever felt valued. They were barely fed, physically or mentally. Ruth also witnessed the most absurd, accidental deaths of some family members and survived a deplorable step-father.
This book brings up two questions that I'll never be able to answer: how can people be so blind? And, how does a person pull strength, courage, and selflessness out of nowhere to save themselves and others? Ruth's story made me angry and sad, but it's incredible and I highly recommend it.