Review of Becoming Sister Wives by Kody and Wives

Jul 4 | By Chris

It’s no secret that Kody Brown and his four wives - Meri, Christine, Janelle, and Robyn - had a lot to say about polygamy at the beginning of their public journey. When their memoir, titled Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage was published in May 2013, it helped establish their credibility as modern-day polygamists.


In it, each woman recounts her experience with becoming a sister wife to her shared husband Kody Brown. Although Kody dominates much of the discourse (and the chapters) in the book, it’s still a worthwhile read for people who are not familiar with the Brown family, polygamy, or plural marriage.


It’s a book that provides an insider’s view into the family’s struggles with the polygamist lifestyle, namely financial struggles, jealousy, stereotypes, and co-parenting.


Becoming a sister wife


The book kicks off with Meri and Kody’s love story where the family’s story began. Both Meri and Kody were raised as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS).


We find out that it was Kody’s Mom who explained the idea of celestial plural marriage to Kody when he was just 14 years old. Kody also makes a distinction between mainstream LDS and their sect of Mormonism—plural marriage is not possible in the former.


Kody and Meri meet at a Mormon church after Kody’s parents were excommunicated from their LDS church, and the rest is history.


Beyond Meri and Kody, we also get a glimpse into Christine, Janelle, and Robyn’s lives before they become sister wives to Kody. Their chapters introduce us to their love stories and to their personal stories not just as sister wives but as individual women navigating this confusing world.


Breaking stereotypes


Kody and his wives are part of the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), which is a different sect of FLDS. The show’s success in portraying the process of becoming a sister wife has allowed ethical polygamists to reclaim this title without being called degrading names.


Addressing jealousy


Another beautiful part about this book is that it depicts the wives’ feelings in a genuine way, even if it is limited. Sometimes this authenticity is dulled on screen, but in the book, we get to take in each wife’s experiences without the TV editing.


It seems that jealousy is the main culprit in most of the household spats—a refreshing and comforting fact if you are reading the book as a new sister wife who is coping with the same feelings.


Throughout the show’s many seasons, jealousy constantly drives conflict between Kody and the wives.


It’s caused fights between the wives, between Kody and the wives, and between Kody and the children. Jealousy (to some degree) even brought Kody and Christine’s 25-year-old marriage to an end.


The moral of the story may be to never sweep jealousy and other uncomfortable feelings under the rug. Instead, work through them as a group and as individuals as much as possible; if your plural family is in it for the long run, establishing a healthy line of communication should be a priority.


Pulling back the curtains on the sister wives’ relationships


One surprising aspect of the book is that it lets fans know how little time the families actually spend with one another. Excluding holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions, it seems that the wives and their children are rarely interacting every day.


Hence, it’s difficult to believe the wives when they claim that the advantages of plural marriage clearly outweigh the disadvantages when the wives go into little detail about these benefits. Nevertheless, it’s clear that every wife is committed to being the best mother she can be, and that their children’s well-being is their top priority at all times even when they all butt heads.


No religious or spiritual aspect


Perhaps in an effort not to alienate others or to reduce the risk of being misquoted, the book does not delve deep into the religious or spiritual reasons behind the family’s lifestyle. Sure, we get the same story from Kody about how he instantly felt drawn to the idea of celestial plural marriage because of his upbringing, but that’s about it.


Neither Kody nor any of the sister wives give us a deeper understanding of their motives behind being a husband or becoming a sister wife, respectively.


In my opinion, this omission is where the book misses the mark. If the premise of the book is to do a deep dive about becoming a sister wife and the ins and outs of plural marriage, then the foundation needs to be there—the why behind everything.


Is it a biological desire to father/mother children? Is it an indescribable spiritual calling to be part of a plural family? Is it a religious obligation? I hope that in the future, the Brown family can elaborate in another memoir if they write one.


Moreover, the Brown clan fails to clearly explain their religious sect and why it deviated from FLDS. For people new to the show or to Mormon sects, this ambiguity may be a real turnoff from the memoir.


Lack of personality and details


Another common gripe I share about the book is that the information is a little repetitive and too generic. The wives share their opinion on one thing, and Kody confirms the information or vice versa.


I understand that it would be very difficult to fit everything into one memoir, but it would be amazing to witness candid moments in the household with lots of specific details from each sister wife. I also understand that the book is more of an introduction to the show, which is why my complaints should not be taken to heart.


Final verdict


If you want to hear the (short) story about how Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn became a sister wife, then this book is a nice read. It repeats much of the information from the show with slightly more detail, although it leaves you wanting more personality and more raw emotion from the authors, particularly about the nitty-gritty of living in a plural family and why the sister wives are in the plural marriage.


Frankly, if you’re looking for an in-depth look at a polygamist family and the not-so-pretty details involved in the daily life of a sister wife, this book may not be what you’re looking for.


Be that as it may, it’s an interesting read if you prefer to learn more about the Browns instead of watching the television series in full. My general impression is that the wives do the best they can for their children, despite all the challenges that come with polygamy.








Published By: Sister Wives 

Matchmakers Inc


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