I don’t watch Big Love (which is loosely-based on [in that they stole several life-events from] the Dargers) because I am lazy and can only handle half-hour tv shows (minus commercials. I have a 22-minute attention HEY LOOK BROWNIES) AND while I agree that there are things about polygamy that weird me, I’ve always thought it might be kind of awesome to have sister-wives. Especially if you got to PICK them.
Which apparently some do! And I think it’s important to separate polygamists into Nutter Butters Who Make Good News Headlines And Books By Jon Krakauer, and People Who Marry More Than One Other Person NBD. So, let’s do that. But this is a book review! Of this book! Which I read!
So. The Dargers. Joe Darger is a dude. Alina and Vicki (who are cousins!) are both like, I am into that dude. Joe’s mom is like, Why don’t you BOTH be into that dude? So they buddy up and become besties and then Joe dates them both. And while they are very, It was difficult because Alina was very pretty, or, It was jealousy-making because Vicki was good at stuff, or, It was hard to be Not A Dick About Things, they are all writing this book together and they will all read it AND their friends and mothers will read it, so you can see them antsing carefully around things. It is honest without being juicy, to my Victorian-novel-loving disappointment.
Oh and then later, Vicki’s twin sister Valerie (who married One Of Those Shitty Polygamists Because Really, Assholes Are Everywhere) leaves her hideous marriage and returns home to heal and then Vicki and Alina are like, We dig you and you should join our marriage. So she does!
And the revolving-door storytelling means that you get to hear all sides, but it also means that you have to hear ALL SIDES. Of EVERY EVENT. But the mechanics of a healthy, functioning polygamous marriage are actually super-interesting, and they are exceedingly open about the necessity of being Grown-Ass Adults About Things (as well as The Repercussions Of Being Childish and Negatively Impacting Not Only Your Spouse But Your Spouse’s Spouses and All The Childrens Thereof). Val remarks on the necessity for sister-wives to develop a level of independence from their husbands that many solo-wives would probably do well to cultivate. Be yo’ own woman!
And I feel shame-faced even admitting earlier that polygamy pokes my button in some ways, because as they point out in the introduction, ‘[e]very day, people make bonds and blend relationships in ways that are redefining what it means to be “family”‘ and while I would never be like, Two ladies? That’s gross, somehow being like Two ladies and a dude? DISCOMFORTABLE! doesn’t seem as politically incorrect. My mental bully is still apparently ok with picking on polygamists, and she needs to be punched (or to have the universal humanity of humankind gently explained to her).
So! Not amazing in parts, keeping from the depths of the Saccharine Tar Pits in other parts only by a narrow margin, but ILLUMINATING.