• Breaking Free

  • How I Escaped Polygamy, the FLDS Cult, and My Father, Warren Jeffs
  • By: Rachel Jeffs
  • Narrated by: Rachel Jeffs
  • Length: 8 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (1,576 ratings)

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Breaking Free

By: Rachel Jeffs
Narrated by: Rachel Jeffs
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Publisher's Summary

In this searing memoir of survival in the spirit of Stolen Innocence, the daughter of Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed Prophet of the FLDS Church, takes you deep inside the secretive polygamist Mormon fundamentalist cult run by her family and how she escaped it.

Born into the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Rachel Jeffs was raised in a strict patriarchal culture defined by subordinate sister wives and men they must obey. No one in this radical splinter sect of the Mormon Church was more powerful or terrifying than its leader, Warren Jeffs - Rachel's father.

Living outside mainstream Mormonism and federal law, Jeffs arranged marriages between underage girls and middle-aged and elderly members of his congregation. In 2006 he gained international notoriety when the FBI placed him on its 10 Most Wanted List. Though he is serving a life sentence for child sexual assault, Jeffs' iron grip on the church remains firm and his edicts to his followers increasingly restrictive and bizarre.

In Breaking Free, Rachel blows the lid off this taciturn community made famous by John Krakauer's best-selling Under the Banner of Heaven to offer a harrowing look at her life with Warren Jeffs and the years of physical and emotional abuse she suffered. Sexually assaulted, compelled into an arranged polygamous marriage, locked away in "houses of hiding" as punishment for perceived transgressions, and physically separated from her children, Rachel, Jeffs' first plural daughter by his second of more than 50 wives, eventually found the courage to leave the church in 2015. But Breaking Free is not only her story - Rachel's experiences illuminate those of her family and the countless others who remain trapped in the strange world she left behind.

A shocking and mesmerizing memoir of faith, abuse, courage, and freedom, Breaking Free is an exposé of religious extremism and a beacon of hope for anyone trying to overcome personal obstacles.

Rachel Jeffs grew up in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the polygamous Mormon sect, which she escaped in 2015. Rachel lives in Idaho with her five children and two dogs.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 Rachel Jeffs (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Breaking Free

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Heart breaking addition to the FLDS cult story

I first say Rachel Jeffs on the TV show "Escaping Polygamy" (she talks about writing the book on the show in an interview.) I think most of the reads who pick up this title do so because they've read autobiographies by Carolyn Jessup and Elissa Wall and "Under the Banner of Heaven".

Rachel said in the afterward that she wrote this book to help her process her life inside FLDS as the daughter of the prophet, Warren Jeffs (making her FLDS royalty), as a 3rd wife and mother of 5, and as a collateral damage in Jeff's well-publicised fall from grace.

Rachel describes a sequestered childhood with her beloved sisters, and her father's manipulative sexual and mental abuse. (While not described in graphic terms, it is disturbing!) I think I feel connected to Rachel because we're almost the same age. I couldn't help but think that I was beginning college when she had her first child.

The book is read by the author. Rachel is softspoken and has the cadence of many from the same background. The story is heartbreaking, but honest; matter-of-fact, but gentle in it's handling of difficult things.

Like I said in the title, this is a heartbreaking addition to the FLDS cult story.

15 people found this helpful

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One of the best reads about the FLDS yet!

I have listened to The Witness Wore Red, Escape and Stolen Innocence. All of them great, but this first hand account from Warren's own daughter was amazing! Insightful, heartbreaking & shocking. I learned so much more than the others, but all of them great reads!! Rachel's reading was sometimes hard to listen to when I feel like I'm listening to a child read it. But I also understand the horrid upbringing she had to experience, so am able to forgive that. Didn't take me long to listen to this book - it was GREAT!! Would recommend to anyone interested in this awful, terroristic cult & its deranged "leader". God bless u & your family, Rachel!

15 people found this helpful

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It could have been much more

I do have sympathy for what the author went through, and she has a remarkable story. However, I didn't find the book particularly well written. She just frequently resorts to just telling events - 'this happened, then this happened', etc, which manges to make even the most exciting events more boring.

I suspect it reads much better with the eyes that the ears. I understand that there's a certain emotional appeal to having the author read her own story, and there are many reviews that seem to suggest it was successful, but it drove me nuts. The author has a very flat affect, speaking in mostly monotone. She also has an odd way of pronouncing any word ending in 'g', with the g very hard - 'anything' becomes 'anythinguh', for example. Of course, she cannot help that she speaks this way, but that didn't stop it from really getting on my nerves.

Worse, though, is that she reads in a very choppy manner, pausing in the middle of a sentence as though it were done, and speaking the next section as though it were a new sentence, when the words clearly indicate the opposite. So a sentence like, "He told me to stay in the room and and gather my belongings" sounds like, "He told me to stay in the room. And gather my belongings." This happens constantly, and is why I think the book probably reads better on paper than audiobook.

13 people found this helpful

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Interesting enough story to sit thru hours of almost monotone narration

Somehow I managed to tolerate the narration of this book. Little inflection and nearly monotone diction mar this book, which overall is an interesting story.

9 people found this helpful

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Gripping

What made the experience of listening to Breaking Free the most enjoyable?

Listening to the author herself read gave extra significance to the story. Her naivety came through her voice, yet she turned out to be a strong and powerful woman. Listening to the courage it must of taken to leave EVERYTHING she had ever known, took strength many woman trapped in difficult situations can never imagine.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Rachel Jeffs was able to explain the horrific abuse she suffered at the hands of her father without going into graphic detail. She retained her grace and dignity as a mother and author.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Breaking Free, the same as the book, because she truly had to break the walls of silence that often surrounds cults, and today hopefully she is free.

Any additional comments?

I could not stop listening to this book. I have tried to read other books about this cult and the abuse often suffered by the children, but found most just too graphic. Rachel was able to convey what happened to her without so much detail. She did have to give some, as they were necessary to the story.

I wish her only the best, and may this story give other women caught in situations beyond their control the courage to make a change.

5 people found this helpful

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American Taliban in our midst

A must listen. FLDS is monstrous. Rachel Jeffs has my utmost respect and I hope for her and her childrens’ happiness.

5 people found this helpful

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Rachel's viewpoint is skewed in my opinion

First off let me say, I have NO right to judge Rachel Jeffs. She was raised from birth into this cult, and was completely brainwashed.
I just felt that she waited SO long to leave, and I was impatient with her during the story. She knew what kind of man her father was (he sexually abused her her entire childhood) and yet she still stood by and let others think he was God's representative on earth. She passively allowed him to control her life and her children's lives.

I was especially annoyed by how she painted the Texas government as monsters for separating FLDS children from their parents. The FLDS was marrying young, young girls to older men, some as young as 12, and others were physically abused, sexually abused, etc. Texas DID fail.... by returning all the victims back to their abusers. But taking them away was the RIGHT thing to do. If you are allowing your 12-year-old daughter to marry a 50-year-old man, you don't deserve to be the parent of that child. If you turn a blind eye to your young child being physically or sexually abused, you do not deserve to be a parent. Period. I do not agree with Rachel whatsoever on this point. The FLDS is evil for what it did to children and the parents that allowed it to happen deserve to be in prison themselves.

I feel like I'm being too hard on Rachel, and I don't mean to be. I think she's in many ways still brainwashed. I think she should have waited a number of years before she got a proper perspective and come to terms with everything that happened to her before she wrote her book. Anyone that knows what happened to these innocent children and blames the Texas authorities for taking them away is just plain ignorant. I hope Rachel, in time, comes to realize the full gravity of everything those children had to bear. And how monstrous is it that they were returned to their abusers. God only knows what happened to them when they had to go back. it just breaks my heart.

TL;DR: Rachel sticks up for FLDS beliefs too much, whitewashes a lot of the abuse that happens in the cult, makes too many excuses for her father and FLDS leadership, and ultimately stayed WAY too long before leaving. It was hard to empathize with her.

3 people found this helpful

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God bless you Rachel.

It was amazing to hear the story of a woman who had been able to escape the abusive and evil culture that she was raised in. I liked being able to know some of the inside of the story that was so publicly reported about the FLDS cult.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent book.

Very well written. An inspiration to anyone who feels trapped in any way. Rachel you are an inspiration.

3 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

This book is disjointed and impossible to finish. Should've been narrated by anyone other than the author.

2 people found this helpful