Title: Triumph: Life After the Cult – A Survivor’s Lessons
Author: Carolyn Jessop & Laura Palmer
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction, Audiobook
Rating: 4 out of 5
Triumph picks up where Carolyn Jessop’s first memoir Escape left off, with the raid on the FLDS compound in Texas in early 2008. Carolyn recounts the reasons for the raid, as well as its aftereffects, and discusses how it was handled and the mistakes that were made through the process. In the second half of the book, Carolyn shares how she was able to break free from the FLDS, physically and mentally, and how her strategies can be applied to leaving any difficult, adverse situation.
I was shocked and horrified by Carolyn Jessop’s first memoir, Escape, but I was impressed by how she was able to pull herself out of a horrible situation and break free from the dogma she’d been indoctrinated with her entire life. In Triumph, Jessop shows more of that strength and resilience as she discusses the raid on the Texas FLDS compound. Since this was a news story that made headlines, it was interesting to get Jessop’s inside perspective at what was going on.
Jessop does a wonderful job recounting exactly what went right, and what didn’t. She had a very personal connection to this situation, as her ex-husband, Merril Jessop, was the one running the Texas ranch. At any given time, because of her experience with the FLDS and Merrill, she knew exactly what they were thinking and what they were trying to achieve. It was a very frustrating story, though, knowing the state wanted to help the abused children but just didn’t have the resources to accomplish it.
The second half of the book changes into a review of Carolyn’s life, with an effort at gleaning why she was able to break free of the FLDS’ mind control, when so many other abused women aren’t. From her education to something as simple as going to the gym, Carolyn expounds on her sources of strength during those difficult times, pointing out that any woman can break free of any difficult situation using these methods. While this section did give the reader a further glimpse of Jessop’s life before and after her escape, for the most part it didn’t work as well as the first half. Its self-help nature didn’t really mesh with the rest of her story, and might better have been presented as an entirely separate book. I listened to the book on audio, and therefore this section was easy to listen to, but I may have skipped the second half of the book if reading it in print.
The audio production of Triumph runs almost 10 hours and is once again narrated by Ann Marie Lee, the same woman who delivered the story of Escape. As a result, starting this audiobook was like visiting with an old friend. I was very impressed by Lee’s enthusiasm for the book – I could hear the pride and love in her voice when she talked about her children and the anger when she discussed Merrill. Multiple times, I had to remind myself that a narrator, and not the author, was the one speaking. Lee did an exceptional job with both books.
Triumph was a good read, and definitely necessary if you’ve read Escape and are looking for more. Jessop provides details that weren’t in her first book, and also talks a lot more about her life after that first book ended. I’d definitely recommend reading Escape first though, as she talks a lot about that book in her second one. After having read both of Jessop’s books, I’m planning on seeking out Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall, another FLDS memoir, as it’s come highly recommended.