My Story by Elizabeth Smart and Chris Stewart, NF, 2013, 308p, Rating=2.5
For the first time, ten years after her abduction from her Salt Lake City bedroom, Elizabeth Smart reveals how she survived and the secret to forging a new life in the wake of a brutal crime
On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.
Now for the first time, in her memoir, MY STORY, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving. Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.
In the nine years after her rescue, Smart transformed from victim to advocate, traveling the country and working to educate, inspire and foster change. She has created a foundation to help prevent crimes against children and is a frequent public speaker. In 2012, she married Matthew Gilmour, whom she met doing mission work in Paris for her church, in a fairy tale wedding that made the cover of People magazine.
Elizabeth Smart, the person, gets 5 stars. This book however gets 2.5 stars because it overall was insufficient in eloquence. I believed the stories she wrote about what happened to her and appreciated the faithful remarks. The storytelling notwithstanding fell short. The organization felt off, one too many repetition for my taste, I noticed a discrepancy in timeline, and I sensed a distance to the storyline or in other words, I felt something big was missing. Yet even with all that, the message of hope can be drawn from her story. I had just expected that it would be oozing out of the pages. Oh, it's hard to describe! I just felt that this could have been written better. Perhaps it's the timing as well. Maybe she wrote this either too early in her life to make a seasoned evaluation or too late in her life that the details faded. Whatever the case may be, the effectiveness that her story merited did not shine in this book.
I do want to say that I did sense hurt and anger between the pages (aside from direct comments of defensiveness). Rightly so. At those points, I liked the book. I also liked the example of faith that brought her stamina to endure. It's those little miracles in her story that people need to capture from this book. She may not have told it well, but it's there to ponder so if you can get your hands on this book, go ahead and read it because the controversy of whether or not she reacted correctly in her opportunities to escape or how she didn't go through therapy after she was found was not my concern here. She did what she thought was best in her circumstances, endured, got home, and moved forward her way. That's her story to me and it's a great one, even if it was not well written in this memoir.