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Author of bestselling memoir visits St. Helens

Ruth Wariner, a New York Times bestselling author of her memoir, "The Sound of Gravel," appearing at St. Helens Public Library

COURTESY PHOTO: JAMES REYNOLDS - WarinerThe St. Helens Public Library will host New York Times bestselling author Ruth Wariner, Tuesday, June 7, at 7 p.m.

Ruth Wariner, a Portland resident, will host a Q&A session and book signing in the library’s auditorium, and is expected to read an excerpt from her personal memoir, “The Sound of Gravel,” which tells the story of her childhood growing up in a polygamist community.

Wariner’s book recounts her life growing up in a polygamist Fundamentalist Mormon colony known as Colonia LeBaron in Mexico in the 1970s and ‘80s as one of 42 children her father had. Wariner describes the book as the story of a mother and daughter relying on one another for support in order to survive.

Her mother was an American citizen, Wariner said, and as a child her family frequently moved back and forth from the United States to Mexico.

When her father was killed in a vie for church power by his brother, Wariner’s mother remarried as the second wife of another man. At the age of 15, Wariner said she ran away for good, taking her three youngest siblings with her.

When Wariner left, her three sisters were too young to remember much about living in La Colonia, she said, so when they began asking questions about their mother, Wariner decided to write the book for them.

In 2009, she began writing the book and took several memoir writing and creative nonfiction classes to develop her skills as an author.

Wariner said it’s important to her, as someone who has written about a deeply personal subject, to be candid with readers who want to know more about the book.

“I’m looking forward to meeting readers. I’ve been having a wonderful time meeting them and answering their questions,” Wariner said. “I think as an author sharing a story that’s so personal, it’s important to be there for readers to answer any questions they have.”

After leaving Mexico, Wariner moved to California and then Oregon, where she earned her high school GED. She also worked her way through college at Southern Oregon University to become a high school Spanish teacher.

Now living in Portland with her husband, Alan, Wariner said she enjoys reading, trying new restaurants, going to wine tastings and staying active in her free time.