What surprises me most about the novel The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall is that it is so different from his first book that I read last year. The collection Letting Loose the Hounds, Udall’s first book, reads like a second rate Sherman Alexie, which is really thing since I don’t like Alexie that much. In the end it was forgotten soon after I closed its pages, and never thought Udall could carry a book the size of The Lonely Polygamist. I am happy to say that I was wrong. This book is what all big books should be. Not only massive in size, at around 600 pages, but also big of heart and big on love (like I assume all polygamists have to be). It is the kind of novel John Irving would write if he were younger and had a better sense of humor. We are introduced to a large cast of characters, some of whom do fall by the wayside, but the ones who don’t could carry a whole novel the size of this one alone. We first meet golden Richards, the patriarch of the family, whose four wives and twenty-eight children, are causing him great psychological pain. He is a big man, about 6’6, but has the drive and courage of someone half his size as he carries the weight of thirty different lives on his broad shoulders. He is a successful owner of a construction company who has taken a job building a brothel, unbeknownst to his super religious community in his home in Virgin, Utah. There he falls in love with a beautiful Guatemalan girl named Huila, and everything he so precariously built up to that point begins to collapse in very funny, very tragic ways. We see his youngest wife, Trish, begins questioning her “plyg” lifestyle, much to the chagrin of Beverly, Golden’s oldest wife who tyrannically rules over the lives of the Richards. Rusty, a twelve year old son to golden and Rose-of-Sharon, Golden’s third, and most submissive wife, has the same feelings Trish has, but takes out his frustrations in increasingly disturbing obsessions with terrorism and Trish herself. And Golden falls into the clutches of Ted Leo, who hired him to build the brothel out of spite for Golden’s father, Royal. He is a scary individual who carries a grudge way too easily, which threatens to end Golden’s fragile family when he finds out about him and Huila. All these different plots merge over the last, breathtaking 200 pages of the novel, in events that really go far to show you how much care Udall put into this novel, and how much you care for each and every person you meet within its pages, despite how often we see them. It all ends with a few pages that will most definitely break your heart, but could not be told more perfectly than it is. A great novel about the sacrifices we make for ourselves to have something stable and normal, this book is a modern gem I hope everyone can enjoy.