Balancing Bountiful

What I Learned about Feminism from My Polygamist Grandmothers

By Mary Jayne Blackmore

Categories: Memoir
Imprint: Caitlin Press
Paperback : 9781773860046, 320 pages, October 2020

This compelling memoir by the daughter of convicted polygamist Winston Blackmore explores a young woman's journey from a life of rigid structure to one of freedom and independence.


As the daughter of Mormon leader Winston Blackmore, Mary Jayne Blackmore grew up within the closed-off polygamist community of Bountiful, BC. She spent her younger years riding ponies, raising pet lambs and playing in the hay in the Old Barn. Her family's staunch Fundamentalist Mormon faith imposed fanatical doomsday preparation and carried an instilled fear of the world outside her community.

The church community split in 2002 when her father was revoked of his leadership position by Prophet Warren Jeffs. In 2017 Winston Blackmore was convicted of practicing polygamy further inciting the media sensationalism and worldwide criticism that had surrounded Bountiful for decades. Through the evolving and controversial narrative of her young adult life, Mary Jayne was forced to redefine her faith, family and womanhood for herself.

Along with her own healing journey, Mary Jayne works to support healing within her family and community. She is also building her own place in the world--as a teacher, mother, writer and educated woman--and she has managed to restore loving bonds with her family, including her father.

From a childhood in an idyllic but sheltered community to early adulthood in an arranged marriage, ensuing divorce, and eventual return to Bountiful, Balancing Bountiful is Mary Jayne's journey of coming of age and coming to terms with her background as she strives to answer the question: What is the right kind of family, the right kind of woman and the right kind of feminist?


"It requires a lot of courage and strength for someone like Mary Jayne to write her own story about her life as a woman in the Blackmore family. No matter your stance on the Blackmores, it’s important to listen. Telling her own story challenges mainstream narratives and notions, but it also gives us more insight and perspective into the environment of growing up as a Blackmore in Bountiful."

Vancouver Island Free Daily