ST. GEORGE — Canadian author Mary Jayne Blackmore recently published her memoir, a story that recounts lessons she learned about feminism from her polygamist grandmothers. The book is featured on a St. George bookstore website and will host a virtual event April 17.
In an email to St. George News, Blackmore described her book, “Balancing Bountiful,” as a story about both the light and darkness of growing up in a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints community in Bountiful, British Columbia.
“It’s about overcoming the adversity I faced in my life, and how it made me the strong woman I am today,” she wrote.
Blackmore has strong local ties. She studied at Southern Utah University and enjoyed university life commuting between Hurricane and Cedar City. She spent every spare minute exploring, hiking, learning canyoneering and rappelling. And she went skydiving twice.
“Southern Utah will always feel like a second home to me,” she said. “I’m profoundly grateful to be sharing this very personal story about my faith journey intermingled with my education journey to becoming the woman I am today.”
She added that this story opens a window into a very private world, where readers have a chance to walk a mile in the narrator’s shoes, and ultimately “see themselves in the intimate place where our stories become universal.”
The memoir travels the course of Blackmore’s life as the fifth child of Winston Blackmore’s 150 children. She writes about her church-arranged marriage a few days before her 17th birthday, becoming a mother to two children before the age of 20, getting a divorce, traveling the world and ultimately moving back home to Bountiful.
“I talk about the complex history of our faith and the skeletons in the closet,” Blackmore wrote. “But also the beauty of community and sisterhood, and lastly about dreaming of a bigger life for yourself than what your past dictates.”
The Book Bungalow, located at 94 West Tabernacle Street in St. George, is featuring the book on its website.
Store owner Tanya Mills said she is excited to offer the memoir to St. George readers.
“We live in an area that’s historically prominent in the polygamist, fundamentalist Mormon history and community,” said Mills.
Before the pandemic, The Book Bungalow hosted an event with Wallace Jeffs, half-brother of jailed FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.
“We had some good reaction to that,” said Mills. “So we thought it (‘Balancing Bountiful’) would be a great fit. And it’s interesting to read the other side of it, you know, where it’s not an entirely negative story but a story that explains how people can be happy in that situation.”
The Book Bungalow will host a virtual event discussing the book with Blackmore on April 14. Anyone interested in participating can get information on the store’s website.
“I think the book is well written. It’s a fascinating story,” said Mills, noting that Blackmore did three full writings of the book. “So I think that really helped get it clear in her mind.
“It’s a story that needs to be told,” she added. “We know all about the Utah polygamists here, but we don’t know anything about the branch up in Canada, and the relationship between them. There’s a lot of history there.”
Blackmore is eager for people in Southern Utah to read her book.
“I enjoyed connecting with the rich arts culture in the area,” she wrote. “Places like The Book Bungalow are becoming more rare, and it feels special to be working with a family owned business of people who love books, supporting authors and sharing them with their community.”
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