Throughout her childhood, Irene Spencer was repeatedly told that polygamy was not only expected, but required in order to receive the rewards of heaven. She was also taught that she should never question the leaders of her church and community.
Irene wanted to marry a non-believer, but the guilt of denying "God's call" troubled her. She felt she couldn't let Him down. She believed God told her she must marry her brother-in-law Verlan LeBaron, and become his second wife--- so, Irene did as she felt God commanded. Then July 1953, the government raided the fundamentalist polygamous Mormon village of Short Creek, Arizona, where many of Irene's friends and family had found a haven. Fearful of additional crackdowns Verlan fled Utah with his two young wives and moved them to the LeBaron family ranch in Mexico.
Their years in the Mexican desert with Verlan's four brothers, his mentally ill sister, as well as his numerous wives and children were inconceivably hard. Irene lived in broken-down adobe buildings with no electricity or running water. An outdoor toilet, old tire treads for door hinges, dim oil lamps, and recycled old clothes, served as her only "creature comforts." Little had Irene expected that this required path to Heaven would involve a detour through Hell.
Irene's escape from the clutches of this aberrant lifestyle is a monumental achievement. With the obstacles of multiple children to support, impoverished living conditions, and lack of skills and education to equip her for independence, Irene's story becomes truly compelling and inspirational.