Read My Story by ElizabethSmart Chris Stewart Online


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 MitFor 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....

Title : My Story
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781250040152
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 308 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

My Story Reviews

  • Amanda L
    2018-12-13 00:42

    This was about as far from what I was expecting as it could possibly be. I heard Smart speak about her experience in an interview with Terry Gross and was enGROSSed. Not the case here.I should have known what I was getting into, but there's just a childlike naivety about this text. And I'm not just talking about the littered paragraph breaks for dramatic effect or the unnecessary and overuse of both italics and exclamation points. It's entirely on the surface and takes a conversational tone where I was really expecting a learned and psychological adult reflection piece. Very surprising because, when she speaks, Elizabeth Smart definitely has a presence about her.Perhaps my distaste really all stems from the feelings I just can't get over that the LDS and/or Evangelical beliefs are "so cute." Like, "Aw, you really think that, dear? You're so precious." Sure I'm an ass, but when she's talking about a literal interpretation of parting the sea alongside earnest expectation that her god might make a similarly impossible feat reality for paragraph upon paragraph, without so much as implied acknowledgement that this was only a desperate hope lacking any potential to be realized, my eyes start to hurt from all they rollin'.Of course, the woman isn't a writer. I rarely expect dazzling prose when I pick up a run-of-the-mill memoir. But here I've got to blame the co-author Chris Stewart for this mash-up of choppy sentences and for letting all this crap fly:(1) If you can't put something to words, explicitly saying that you can't capture the experience in words isn't conveying anything except a lack of talent. Case in point:"I can't describe the terror!" (p. 26)"He would torture and brutalize me in ways that are impossible to describe." (p. 46)I'm sure there were others that I forgot to dog-ear.And in the same vein:"It was no fun at all" - ???? (p. 122) "weird" (p. 79)You really think I'm wasting my time for that kind of non-detail?"Then he proceeded to urinate" is about as heinous a detail you're going to find. And you're gonna get it on repeat. Ad nauseam. But please understand, I don't at all mean to imply that Brian David Mitchell isn't a heinous person or didn't do heinous things; I'm just saying that Smart is keeping us (and perhaps herself) at arm's length and I even wonder if that's unwittingly."He went on to describe what they were going to do" (p. 74). Uhm, ok?What I was really craving to know and understand, picking this up, is how she managed to cope with this life for so long and how it impacts her even to this day. Because to say that the experience is no longer affecting her or that her existence is completely divorced from it (as she continually implies and even expressly states) is total denial. Her story is severely lacking in any emotional depth and she represents herself as only a shell of feeling at best, as her descriptions are completely devoid of internal reflection. I mean, for crying out loud, she's talking about how she hated the pattern on the sheets they slept on ("I didn't like the print one bit," p. 70). She even describes the print as "horrid" in the same passage-- REALLY? That, of all you have endured, is what resonates with you? This is unequivocally the epitome of superficial reflection.(2) There's also overuse of blanket words like "crazy" or "evil" or "mean." Like, he wasn't crazy; just evil, which is not exactly illustrative of any point. Needs to be gone back over with a fine tipped brush to paint a bit more nuance. A little more 'show us, not tell us' would be much appreciated.In repeatedly reminding us that he's "not crazy," perhaps what she really means is that he was not unfit to stand trial or is/was not suffering from psychosis and is fully cognizant. But there's certainly a DSM diagnosis for all his delusions of grandeur, at the very least. I'm not here to diagnose, but I'm also not here to say "just mean" and "not crazy."And (3) a qualifier like this:"I don't know what the exact definition of despair is..."Presumably you've had 10+ years in reflecting on your experiences and many years in writing this text to look that up? Obviously that's just in there for dramatic effect. And to me it's just plain cheap.It is utterly amazing to me that the text could be so sparse and at the same time completely littered with unnecessary verbiage (see remarks on bedsheets, above). An enigma.On top of and severely more egregious than all the above flaws is her obvious privilege and the way it colors her description and seemingly even affects what she takes away from her experiences. Worse yet, she ostensibly holds a boastful pride for that privilege."I thought back on a girl I knew in junior high. She was a friend to the Polynesians, the Mexicans, the Caucasians. She was friends with everyone. She was just so nice. So I thought, ok I can be like her" (p. 73, emphasis added)."My abduction was to become the most publicized case since..." (p.67).And then:"I don't know what drove so many people to try to help me..." "light blue ribbons and buttons with my picture began to appear from California to Maine..." "hundreds of thousands [of posters] distributed nationwide..." "And to this day I remain the luckiest girl in the world!" (all p.67). In all seriousness, is this genuine naivety?--LUCK? Does she really not understand that this is the way sensationalized for-profit American media works (and the audience response it begets)? Yes, the search absolutely should have been omnipresent, as it should be for any missing child, regardless of how "pretty" (or white?) she is. Even after these years of reflection and even working with and advocating for victims, with countless many more abductions since, she really doesn't see that the inequity between her search and any other comes down to the "pretty" "blond hair and blue eyes" she continually revisits in her text? I have to wonder if she even comprehends the fact of that injustice? Use your privilege for good. It's time to make a change in the way the Smarts are treated versus the way the families of Amanda Berry, Georgina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, Avonte Oquendo, etc., are treated.I'll qualify my rating and what I've said with a statement that I wholly respect anyone's effort to confront and/or come to terms with a victimizing experience. And I certainly admire the courage that doing so necessarily requires and I fully admit that writing about trauma can be freeing and cathartic. However, as I was reading this I was not convinced that Ms. Smart has actually come to terms with her past. The will power she was so emphatic about only takes one so far. I sensed throughout an adamant tone of denial, as if she were on the defensive about any further struggle that is typically part and parcel to an extended traumatic experience such as hers. Flashbacks, PTSD, nightmares.... it was as if she were trying to convey that she is immune to any after-effects and emotionally impermeable to the manipulation of her captors, which to me is actually frighteningly apathetic. She was adamant, "there was no Stockholm Syndrome going on with me!" -- well, let that speak for itself. Again, a bit more 'show us, not tell us'. It seems as if she was obsessed with being rescued and refused to take matters into her own hands or responsibility for her own fate, even when surrounded by bystanders (in libraries, on buses, and eventually in various shelters) and even when confronted by police, no less. I'm no professional but that's utterly helpless behavior and her statements that she didn't want to be viewed "at fault" for her escape seem to imply some sensitivity to the emotions and concerns of her captors, which, as a vulnerable 13-year old who was wholly relying on them for basic necessities (in addition to being tortured and manipulated by them), would be completely understandable.And then in the end there's that admission that she refused any professional help or counseling. Admirable if you can get through it at all, let alone on your own, but, again, I am not convinced that she truly is past the experience (or that it would ever even be possible to truly be "past" it-- coping is a lifelong journey, but her tone and manner vehemently deny this fact).If you're really interested, listen to the Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross instead. But then don't get conned into reading it.Admittedly I should try to have more respect for this tortured girl, but instead my response is clouded by disdain for how much slop is published merely on the basis that it will sell. Is this review going to be censored? Or am I flattering myself again?<< crickets >>

  • Annie
    2018-11-20 23:44

    I just can't bring myself to give this a star rating. I've no problem with Elizabeth or her family profiting from the morbid public interest in her sad tale. Writing a book from Elizabeth's point of view seemed a logical conclusion, and I'm frankly surprised it didn't come sooner. However, it's not terribly well written -- a shortcoming that should be blamed entirely on the ghost writer and not Elizabeth herself. There's a lot in this book that made me feel as though I was both intruding into Elizabeth's privacy and participating in her unhealthy (to me) coping. For instance, Elizabeth's belief in miracles stretch the limits of believability and instead seem as though you're reading the account of a child desperate to feel as though she was not alone (something that makes me incredibly sad and uncomfortable). Some of the details she reports directly contradict reports in the media AND her parents book, Bringing Elizabeth home, particularly the events near the end of her imprisonment and whether or not she had Stockholm syndrome. Oh, Stockholm syndrome. A very large part of the book is dedicated to trying to prove to the reader she did not have Stockholm syndrome, that she would never betray herself or her family by developing such a commonplace psychological condition, etc. She proudly states she had no therapy (and I'll grant that she says some people may need it), further causing my discomfort with the book.Elizabeth is undoubtedly a very strong woman who does much good in the world. However, this book reads like somebody who has a highly specific version of her story held in her mind (particularly that she did NOT have Stockholm syndrome) and feels that she needs others to believe it. There's very little of the book dedicated to her healing and recovery process, simply because it seems she didn't really go through much of one by her own admission. Ultimately, I feel that the story is hers to tell however she chooses and that she should be applauded for every single thing she has done since those brutal nine months. She has rebuilt her life. I just don't feel comfortable holding this up as a book other survivors of trauma ought to read because it is a pretty religiously based book -- if you aren't Mormon, don't have an entire family structure dedicated to helping you suppress memories, and aren't well off enough to afford access to horses, I don't think her story has much to offer other survivors of unimaginable trauma. I just have a lot of conflicted feelings about this book.

  • Beverly Diehl
    2018-12-12 23:25

    Let me say first, I am a huge Elizabeth Smart fan. I've seen her on various television programs, and seen video clips of her speeches. THAT articulate, intelligent, passionate young woman is mostly muted in these pages, and there are many questions that either are not explored at all, or sometimes touched upon and not finished. Whether that was by her own choice, or whether she was toned down by her ghostwriter, it makes the book less appealing.The "voice" was very young throughout! Okay, she WAS very young when she was kidnapped, and it makes sense that as she relived the experience, her vocabulary would regress to that of a sheltered young girl. But there's an excess! of exclamation points! that simply became annoying!There's an emphasis made about her red silk pajamas, and mention that Mitchell, her kidnapper, was going to do something disgusting with them. What? We never find out. Elizabeth is so physically immature when she is first raped, she has not yet begun menstruating. Did she begin menstruating while in captivity, or did the starvation diet she was on prevent her from reaching menarche? Did she worry about becoming pregnant with the monster's child, or perhaps contracting an STI? Ms. Smart has spoken openly and more than once in public about how the abstinence-focused "sex ed" was part of what also held her captive: the teaching that a girl who's had sex is like a chewed up piece of gum, and nobody would want THAT made her feel ashamed and worthless. I applaud her for speaking out about this in public, and wish it was more than briefly mentioned and quickly glossed over in this book.Has she been able to enjoy a healthy sex life since she married or are there still hurdles to overcome? I didn't need the Penthouse blow-by-blow intimate details, but just a hint: "It was hard at first, I was very afraid, but my wonderful husband was so patient and loving we worked it out and now that area of our married life is rich and rewarding." Or: "I was worried I wouldn't be able to respond to my husband, but he was so different in mind, body and soul, that I had no problem." Or even that she still has problems that she and her husband are working out together. Never explored.Did she ever hate her captors, hope they died, and perhaps feel guilty because of her "unChristian" thoughts? If so, never mentioned. Does any member of her family still struggle with guilt over her abduction? Did she have any issues with healthy eating once back with her family, or did she ever have impulses to binge or hoard food? Not mentioned.There are only three chapters about her post-captivity life: one on being reunited with her parents, one about the trials of Barzee and Mitchell, and one on her recovery, in general (called Gratitude and Faith). It's wonderful that she had the support of family, of faith, and the comfort of horseback riding and playing the harp - but what did she STRUGGLE with? Was there anything about rejoining civilization that surprised her, or was different than she expected? While I applaud the work Ms. Smart is doing on behalf of abducted children and their recovery, and appreciate that she may need to reclaim her privacy after all she endured, and admire her deeply as a human being, I am not sure what the point is in releasing an autobiography that leaves so many questions unanswered and doesn't dig deeper emotionally.

  • Kelly
    2018-11-17 21:24

    Before I read the book, I read a lot of reviews about it. Almost all of them were the same: Great story, great girl but poorly written book. I actually loved the way the book was written while at the same time I can see why it got those reviews. It's not really written as a page turner/cliff hanger type book, but I don't think that was the purpose of the book. I mean it wasn't a fictional story written for fun or to entertain. So I think she achieved her purpose in writing. I loved that she got to defend her younger sister and her mom. I love that she had the chance to tell everyone how evil and selfish Mitchell was. I love that she was able to describe her fear and explain how that dictated every decision she made even when she was faced with the chance of escape. I'm willing to bet that most people reading her book can't comprehend that level of fear. I love that she shared what her mom said to her after she was found and I thought that was a fantastic thing to say. Living in Utah, her story was on the news constantly and I'm she took the chance to tell her story because sometimes the media isn't always kind or truthful.I think Elizabeth is a true hero and I wish I could tell my girls all about her, but obviously, I can't. I'm amazed at her resilience, her ability to move on and her ability to never let go of her belief in God. I'm amazed that she could realize how even though her situation was horrible, it could have been worse. She's right... she doesn't have pictures of her abuser hanging on the wall of her house because it's a family member. She didn't get pregnant. There was no death involved. I worked with a girl who went through similar trauma experiences, probably even worse, and I'm amazed that Elizabeth has been able to forget him and build a good life for herself. I think it was a lot harder than she really talked about, but I'm so glad that she could do it and truly not give him any more of her life! I still remember exactly where I was and who told me that she'd been found. It was pretty shocking. The court cases of Barzee and Mitchell were on the news and every time the case was suspended because he would come into the courtroom singing and wouldn't stop, it made me angry. I'm so glad they didn't determine him to be mentally incompetent. It was so obvious he knew exactly what he was doing and I'm so glad she got to affirm that in her book. I'm glad she had the chance to testify against him and stare him down and seal his sentence! You go girl!

  • Lauren Hopkins
    2018-11-24 18:40

    It is what it is...a glorified wikipedia entry based off of crime reports. After hearing Smart speak on NPR, it's clear she's a very eloquent and insightful person who is able to articulate her feelings about her ordeal in a way that would make you think this book is going to be fantastic but it's very clear the person with whom she wrote it (a politician who has written a weird handful of books including one about how miracles have "saved the United States" including the "miraculous creation of the constitution"...I'm sure it's on the shelves of every prominent historian #sarcasm) took the reins and erased all sense of who she is. I've never read any other books about her ordeal and don't know more than what I read in the news, but I would imagine most books out there are better than her own, which is a bummer because this is, as the title suggests, HER STORY, so it's a shame that so much of the book's material is straight out of crime reports and the news rather than in her own words. That being said, she does elaborate on her feelings at certain points in her captivity, but it's really not much and the same language is used repeatedly, making it come off as rather insincere. Again, as she sounded incredibly genuine during her NPR interview, it's just too bad that you don't get a great sense of who she is in this book. It's generic. That's the best way to describe's not a bad book, but it's not anything special, either.

  • Erika B. (SOS BOOKS)
    2018-11-30 23:21

    "It's funny, some of the things that I remember, many of the details forever burned in my mind. It's as if I can still smell the air, hear the mountain leaves rustle above me, feel the fabric of the veil that Brian David Mitchell stretched across my face. I can picture every detail of my surroundings: the tent, the washbasin, the oppressive dugout full of spiders and mice. I can feel the cut of the steel cable wrapped so tightly around my ankle, the scorch of the summer heat lifting off the side of the hill, the swaying of the Greyhound bus as we fled to California. I remember so many overwhelming feelings and emotions. Terror that is utterly indescribable, even to this day. Embarrassment and shame so deep, I felt as if my very worth had been tossed upon the ground. Despair. Starving hunger. Fatigue and thirst and a nakedness that bares on to the bones. Intruding hands. Pain and burning. The leering look of his dark eyes. A deep longing for my family. A heartbreaking yearning to go home. Looking back, I realized that at one point, early on the morning of the first day, something had changed inside me. After I had been raped and brutalized, there was something new inside my soul. There was a burning now inside me, a fierce determination that no matter what I had to do, I was going to live! I also discovered something that is harder to imagine, and much more difficult to explain. Sometime during the first couple of days, I realized that I wasn't alone. There were others there beside me, unseen but not unfelt. Sometimes I could picture them beside me, reaching for my hand. And that is on of the reasons I am still alive."4-4.5 stars! I'm going to be perfectly honest with you-this book is going to be HARD for me to review! I will tell you right now if you aren't comfortable with the issue of rape skip this one. Elizabeth Smart is about a year older than I am. I remember when she was taken because it scared me! She was a girl about my age and only lived an hour away from me! It was very real and very close to home. Her kidnapping was everywhere on billboards and in the media. I remember it was summer and one night I went around shutting all of the windows because I was freaked out about someone coming through the screens and taking me. So to read this book period made me a little apprehensive! I will admit that reading it did scare me! Elizabeth didn't sugar coat her experience at all. She tells about being taken from her home at knife point and dragged up into the mountains. There she became the "second wife" to a psychopath and his psychopath wife. Essentially she talks about becoming a slave to Wanda Barzee and a sex toy for Brian David Mitchell for her nine months of captivity. She talks about the horror of being cabled to a tree and being able to her rescuers and not being able to call out for help. She rehashes each horror and terrifying situation with complete honesty. Had the story been only these facts I think I might have abandoned it for simply not being able to handle the sadness of it all. BUT Elizabeth Smart also weaves another tale throughout the story. It's a story about faith and tender mercies. It's a tale about gratitude and forgiveness and some seriously big miracles. I felt her spirit radiating through the pages almost as if it was reaching out and saying that even in the darkest times there is light. As a person she is truly inspiring! "Life is a journey for us all. We all face trials. We all have ups and downs. All of us are human. But we are also the masters of our fate. We are the ones who decide how we are going to react to life. Yes, I could have decided to allow myself to be handicapped by what happened to me. But I decided very early that I only had one life and that I wasn't going to waste it. As of this writing, I am twenty-five years old. I have been alive for 307 months. Nine of those months haven't been very good. I have been happy. I have been very blessed. Who knows how many more months I have to live? But even if I died tomorrow, nine out of 307 seems like pretty good odds.""I also believe in faith. Faith in a loving and kind Heavenly Father who will always care about me. Faith that my worth will never be diminished. Faith that God knows how I feel and that I can depend on him to help me through it all. I believe that God not only suffered for me, but that He will make everything up to me in His own time and His own way. That gives me the peace I need to feel like justice will win out in the end."

  • Colleen
    2018-11-18 23:24

    Elizabeth Smart's story is riveting, intriguing, heartbreaking and inspiring. Smart's faith and hope in the midst of some of the most horrifying trials imaginable can't help but impact the reader for the better, and her resilience as she faced a hopeful future or the ruin of her soul is beautiful.As an addendum to my review above, I read a few reviews after I wrote mine, interested in what others thought. I agreed in most part with the commentary on the writing, which is why I only gave the book 3 stars. At times I found myself wondering if she was purposely trying to sound like a 14-year-old, since that was her age at the time of her kidnapping. However, I found it interesting that several people didn't like the book because they felt that her strength in her faith, which she felt got her through the ordeal, and the process through which she healed afterward, with the help of her family and her faith but without counseling, were not legitimate and that she was still in denial. They also did not like that in the book she emphasized several times that she never had Stockholm Syndrome. Regardless of whether you are a person of faith, to discount that for HER faith was a source of strength which allowed her to survive and to heal is not the place of the reader. This is Elizabeth Smart's story from Elizabeth Smart's point of view. And regardless of whether she actually did come to connect with her captors over the 9 months she was held, her belief that she never truly did feel anything more than fear and anger toward them has helped her to move forward. She is doing great, important and powerful things with her life to protect those who need it so that more young people don't find themselves in a situation like hers. At the end of the book, she makes it clear that everyone needs to find their own way to healing, and that counseling or medication could be part of that, it just wasn't for her. And when people gripe that she didn't include more details about her abuse and rape...that's just sad. Her book is not to dwell on the evil she endured, but to share how she endured it.

  • Jessica
    2018-11-25 17:37

    When Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped, we had just moved back from New Jersey to Salt Lake. I was fascinated and horrified by her abduction, though I wasn't one of the people who pored over every report in the paper. I did cry a little when she was found, alive, since I had been convinced that they would only find a body, as the days and months passed. But I've been even more fascinated by her life since then. She has emerged from a harrowing ordeal as a gracious, gentle, intelligent woman. She's used her "fame" to help others. She's graduated from college, served an LDS mission, and married in the temple, all goals that she set long before Brian David Mitchell kidnapped and abused her. This book is amazing. Without being graphic or sensational, but rather with a sort of matter-of-fact clarity, she recounts her captivity and what she endured, which included being force-fed drugs and alcohol, living outside in extreme weather, and nearly dying of starvation. But through it all she speaks of her great faith, her will to survive, and her love for her family that sustained her. This is a truly inspiring book, and certainly an interesting one for anyone who knew about her abduction and rescue.

  • Cynthia Sillitoe
    2018-11-20 21:35

    Having given this more thought, I wanted to do a more thorough review. Parts of this book are riveting and details only Elizabeth could know. She makes some interesting choices, including not going into much detail as to the sexual abuse, which is totally her right to do. One myth the book shoots down is Stockholm syndrome, at least not in the sense that she begins to identify with them. She figures her captors out pretty fast and doesn't believe their delusions, but is terrified of them with good reason. But there are loose threads and inconsistencies. One frequently reported story about her rescue included a back story of them going to Florida, her name being Augustine, her captors insisting it is true, and Elizabeth insisting it is true. In the book, while she evades the questions at first, the whole Augustine story is not mentioned. I thought, "Ok, so that didn't happen." And then I saw her on the news after the book was published and she referred to the Augustine story there. Also, there's some question as to whether she said she was Elizabeth when she was first found or after some time separated from her captors and at the police station. I don't know what the process was for this. I don't know how much she wrote or if it was more that the co-author interviewed her. I also can see that it might have been too difficult for her to read draft after draft. If she couldn't read it, somebody should have been reading it and comparing it to her testimony and other comments, and then asking her for clarification. Because if it's to be the definitive account, it needs to be consistent. It's not that I think she's lying. I think, like many survivors of trauma, her memory is fragmented and has never been totally reconstructed. Having lived in Utah, I know some of what followed in terms of the legal process. Mitchell, especially, used every tactic he could to avoid a trial. For years, the questions loomed--would there be a trial? Would Elizabeth testify? Would she have to testify in front of her captors? Would Barzee testify against Mitchell?And I know that she did testify (though Mitchell acted crazy so he didn't have to be present) and her testimony was graphic. Also, she sat through the rest of the trial, including Mitchell's defense team trying anything they could to minimize his crimes. And that must have been hellish for Elizabeth.If I didn't know all that, I would think this is too neat and too "happily ever after" as many reviewers do. And I wish Elizabeth a happy life. I just don't think she can get it without counseling. I don't care how strong or positive a person is, you can't opt out of PTSD after this type of trauma. I understand that she might not want to discuss the lasting effects of trauma, but it would be nice if she would acknowledge that they are there.Jaycee Dugard, for instance, was younger when she was taken and held longer, and she's still amazing resilient and optimistic, but I think she is more frank about how long the road to recovery is. And I just dread the message. Yes, she has a caveat that counseling is fine for people who choose it, but then she opts out, and it makes my heart break for her and for anyone who might be influenced more by her actions than her words. We live in a country that does not put enough emphasis on mental health. There's still a stigma to any kind of therapy and so people (and especially Mormons, who are ridiculously stoic) decide they don't need it. And sometimes not dealing with the trauma becomes worse than the trauma itself.

  • Lynn
    2018-11-23 00:37

    I listened to this on audio, and while I was riveted by Elizabeth Smart's story and the horror that she endured, I have to agree with others who admit to having problems with the book itself.The audio is narrated by Elizabeth Smart herself, who very often took a sarcastic tone when reading parts where her disgust and disdain for Mitchell and Barzee were obvious. While I have no doubt that she did have sarcastic thoughts, the tone gave her the feeling of an irritated teenager rather than an abused kidnap victim. It was almost as if, in her overzealous effort to assure readers that she never developed Stockholm syndrome or ever had any positive feelings at all for her captors, she's allowing her grown-up self to interject a higher level of disdain than I can imagine her teen captive self would have felt free to express without fear of retribution.Too, I became very frustrated by Smart's constant suggestions of abuse and horror only to be followed by a complete lack of detail. Not that I expected a prurient description of the degrading things she was forced to endure, but it does no good to say simply that Mitchell "described a disgusting act" without any context. The spectrum of "disgusting acts" is pretty broad. Or another example - she states that when she tried to escape once, she was severely chastised to such a degree she wasn't willing to risk it again. In my mind, a severe scolding doesn't seem so dis-incentivising. What, exactly, had her punishment been? She talks about how Barzee treated her like a slave, but she doesn't mention what that meant. Did she have to do all of the work in camp, and if so, what was there to do? They lived in filth and Mitchell would never have let her go off on her own to get water or food, so how was she treated like a slave? Details like that would have better fleshed out her story and helped to paint a clearer picture of what she went through. If she truly wanted to express her real experience, she chose to leave far too much in the dark.And while I know that this is strictly Elizabeth Smart's story and she stated up front that she had no desire to ever understand what drove either Mitchell or Barzee to commit their twisted evil crimes, there were parts of the story that could have benefited from objective, pscyhological input. For example, at one point it appears that Mitchell has abandoned Barzee and Smart, leaving them to starve to death in their camp. While Smart re-iterates ad nauseum why she never felt capable of trying to escape even when Mitchell had left the camp, I kept wondering why the adult Barzee would remain there without food for that long. We get no insight as to her actions at all.One thing that I found strange - Smart was taken when she was fourteen, turning fifteen while in captivity. Many, many times she describes herself as a "little girl", giving this fact as a key reason for her absolute submission to Mitchell and belief in his ability to kill her entire family should she try to escape, thus her inability to speak up when the chances of rescue were within reach. I am the mother of a fifteen year old girl, and I would never consider her "little". When I hear the phrase "little girl" I see a six or seven year old, or even a ten or eleven year old. I think this means that at the time of her kidnapping, Elizabeth must have been relatively immature or extremely sheltered to view herself as so much younger than a person in their teens would be. NOT that I am saying she didn't truly believe her life was in danger and wasn't in constant fear and thus had good reasons for her actions, just that I needed some more backstory to correlate her reactions with her chronological age since they seem a bit shifted to me. For those who know nothing or very little about the Elizabeth Smart case - I vaguely remembered the news stories but never paid attention to the story once she'd been rescued and didn't know anything about the trials - this is an informative way to learn the story. However, after listening to the book, I don't exactly feel like I got the behind-the-scenes truth about what she went through.

  • Kathy * Bookworm Nation
    2018-12-08 01:25

    I was living in Utah when Elizabeth was kidnapped. I remember that time very vividly, my heart broke for her and her family. I remember praying that she would be found and reunited with her family. I actually remember the day she was found. I was home from work, working on a paper when I saw on the news she had been found, just blocks away from my home. I couldn't believe they had found her and so close to where I lived. What a miracle. I always wondered about her reunion and how she adjusted back to normal life. Going to school, etc. The book touched on it a little bit, but I wouldn't have minded a little more. The majority of the book does focus on her time in captivity. I was worried at how descriptive it would be, I knew she had been raped, sometimes multiple times a day, but I was relieved she didn't share the gory details. I don't think that's needed to really understand what she went through. She shared enough that you get the idea what her abuse was like. Anyway, it was fascinating to hear about her nine-month captivity, since during those nine months I had been following her case and had spent time wondering about her and talking about her case with friends. What struck me the most about her story, was the "tender mercies" she had along the way. How she remained faithful throughout it all. Her positive attitude, and finding things to be grateful for in such a terrifying and heartbreaking ordeal is really amazing. Yes, she was very young and naïve when taken, but she is also very intelligent and did what she had to to survive. I am so grateful that she has not only learned to put the nightmare behind her, but has used her experience to help so many others. I decided to read this book after seeing her new documentary on A&E. I've read some reviews that didn't care for the writing style or storytelling, but I thought it was fine. I thought it gave a good glimpse into what was going on and how she handled everything. I thought it was well written and handled the sensitive topics well. Still, its hard to read all that she went through, but the last bit when she is reunited with her family is amazing. Now that I have kids of my own, I can't even imagine the unbearable pain her parents must have gone through. There should be extra time added to their sentence for the pain and suffering caused to her family. I'm rambling, so I'll end with saying I thought this was a great book. Compelling story and I loved the overall message that we have a caring Heavenly Father who loves us and who is with us even in our darkest times.ContentObviously, deals with kidnapping, rape and emotional/mental abuse. While she suffered sexual abuse almost daily, it's not detailed in the book, but some parts are disturbing so wouldn't recommend to sensitive readers.

  • Elizabeth
    2018-11-22 22:43

    AsApril said: Monsters.This was hard to read for many reasons. Hard because I am a mother and I cannot imagine what Elizabeth's family must have gone through. Hard because Elizabeth's ordeal was so heinous. Hard because I fear that Elizabeth's upbringing contributed to her passiveness when being kidnapped, brutalized, and held hostage for a nine month period. I say this without judgement. Truly.Elizabeth was fourteen years old and had been brought up in a religious home. She was taught to obey. She was surrounded by good people, an involved extended family, and loved well. She lived in a state that does not see much violent crime. By contrast, I grew up in California. I have family members in law enforcement. My cousins and I grew up hearing that if anyone ever tried to hurt us or take us we were to FIGHT. You fight because if that person is willing to try and kidnap you whatever they have planned for you will be much worse when they get you alone. If they have a gun let them shoot you. A knife let them cut you. JUST FIGHT. Recently library staff where I work attended an Active Shooter Training. The three most important things to do/remember: Take cover, try to get to the nearest exit, if neither are possible: FIGHT.YOU ALWAYS FIGHT. The saddest fact about Elizabeth's kidnapping and then nine month hostage ordeal is that she did not fight. Not once. Her fear literally paralyzed her. She was too damned scared. She was too damned nice. She had no life skills or perspective in which to understand what was happening to her. She only felt powerless. And a terrible, overwhelming, and intractable fear. She was the perfect victim.MONSTERS.

  • Amanda
    2018-12-03 17:15

    Not sure how to rate this. It was poorly written in my opinion and very child-like. (Not sure if that's the right word I'm looking for?). It was a little bit hard to read. Parts of it felt like she was talking in circles. Parts of it felt like it was just a platform to say emphatically that she didn't have Stockholm syndrome and that she couldn't have escaped because she was just a child. It was also hard to read because of the actual content! Her captors were so evil. It's just unbelievable what mitchell did -- all of the different forms of abuse he inflicted on Elizabeth. I'll admit I was a little curious how or why she didn't escape when she had the chance. But I understand more what was going on in her 14 year old head. I tried to think of how I would have acted in the same situation. It's scary! She was very vague on some of the aspects of abuse. Which I totally get - privacy or whatnot. But when someone alludes that something horrible and unbelievable happens or that they had to do something deplorable and unthinkable, and they don't specify what it was, it just makes my mind try to think of the worst possible thing she might be referring to! I think the thing that shocked me and bothered me the most was Elizabeth saying that she had never gotten professional counseling??????????!!!!!!!!!!! She listed several therapeutic things she uses (playing the harp and horse back riding). And I don't doubt that she has a strong support system. But are you kidding me? Although I guess I should say that I truly believe that everyone can benefit from a good counselor, let alone someone who went through what she did!She does have a good attitude, strong faith, a deep sense of gratitude, and loving and supportive family. She's taking her experience and helping other victims and that's very admirable. (And I'm sorry but I just have to say it again. Why would you not get professional counseling??!!)

  • Donna Backshall
    2018-11-18 17:29

    I hate having give a low rating to a memoir, especially a potentially soul-baring one about abuse, but wow, this was awful. I got the audio version on Overdrive, and truth be told, it was unbearable. I got through maybe 10% before I ripped the earbuds out and began trying to breathe normally. I usually chug books like this, never getting enough, but this one was childlike and sugary. Worse than a syrupy Sweet Tea at Bojangles.Elizabeth Smart read the book herself, and her presentation was so stilted and "off", like she was reading someone else's words. (Which she probably was) Add to that the continual Christian references -- practically ever sentence dripped with religious gravy -- trying to rationalize what her god had allowed to happen, and my WOW now needs to be capitalized.I know there's a good story in there, but I'll have to find it in articles or interviews, because this iced cupcake of a book is certainly not the avenue for getting the real survival story.

  • Nathaniel
    2018-12-13 01:39

    I became interested in reading Elizabeth Smart's autobiographical account of her kidnapping after her comments about the role that her Mormon faith had played in perhaps exacerbating her captivity. Her comment was that the emphasis on purity in her Mormon upbringing 'caused her to feel worthless after she was raped. In My Story, however, she explains that her family's love won out over the original response of shame, and she knew that her mother and father would love her no matter what. That, in part, gave her the strength she needed to endure.The book was fascinating in a lot of ways. I followed the story of her kidnapping as much, but not more, than everyone else when it happened. So a lot of the details in this book were new to me. It was also obvious that Smart was addressing several issues that have come up since then, sort of answering critics. Why didn't she try to escape earlier? Why didn't she answer police questions when they asked if she was Elizabeth Smart? How could she believe in God after all she had been through? Why didn't she get any formal counseling at all after her experience, and can she really have recovered without it?Through it all, I was struck by her quiet defiance and invisible strength. I can't imagine surviving her experiences with my psyche intact. She may not have reacted like an action movie hero but, as she explains reasonably, she was a young and naive little girl. The most she could do was retain her spirit. That was her goal, and she accomplished it. Her captors are rotting in prison, and Elizabeth Smart has moved on with her life.Of course it's hard to believe that she's as past her experiences as she seems to say that she is. When she says "[he will] never control me ever again or make me feel bad ever again, that he no longer exists in my life, and I never have to let him," that sounds more like an aspiration than a fact. But it seems cruel and presumptuous of me to question it, and so I won't. I'm just happy she seems to be happy.The one thing that hangs in the air once I'm done, alongside my respect for Smart, is the sort of un-addressed question of class. Smart made headlines in no small part because she was such a pretty young girl. She credits her recovery in large part to horseback riding and playing the harp, neither of which are exactly middle class activities. It may seem needlessly political to bring that up, but those are just topics that I have on my mind these days, and so they stood out to me in the last chapter of the book. There's nothing wrong with having advantages in this life, especially if we use what we've been given to try and help others. That's exactly what Smart has done. The advantages she had in life--most importantly a loving family, but also wealth and good looks--all contributed with her iron resolve to help her survive. And now, as a survivor, she has turned her fame and her energy to the task of helping those who face the horrors of kidnap and sexual slavery without even the meager resources that Smart had. No one could do more than that.If you're looking for any graphic details of the captivity, you won't find them here. Smart was raped nearly every day and sometimes more than once a day. That's as graphic as it gets. Instead, the focus of the book is on her mental state as she gradually goes from purely passive victim to sly manipulator who manages to con her captor using his own game and so engineer her own rescue from behind the scenes. It's really an amazing story--and well told--so I recommend this book.

  • Wanda
    2018-12-13 19:45

    Strange things happen when I’m bored. I was in the public library, waiting for my laptop to digest some security updates and just happened to lean over and grab this book. “Oh, I remember this story,” I thought. “I’ll just read a few pages while the computer updates.” Well, I had been away on vacation for two weeks, and there were a lot of updates to grind through. By the time it was done, I was several chapters in and hooked.I can’t resist books like these—tales of women who survived some of the worst situations that they could ever have found themselves in and who emerge from the experience able to share their stories and proclaim their transcendence over them. I chalk some of it up to the same instinct that makes us want to gawk at traffic accidents: identify the problem so as to try to avoid it in the future.It is obvious from the book that Elizabeth’s Mormon faith was a great comfort and support to her during her ordeal. Although I do not espouse any particular religion, I can appreciate the fact that this philosophy helped a 14 year old survive a miserable experience. I am also amazed at how mentally tough this rather introverted and admittedly geeky young woman was—no Stockholm syndrome for Ms. Smart.Whatever else, I think Elizabeth’s mother nailed it when she told her daughter not to give her captor even one more minute of her life—to completely disregard him from the moment she escaped. Living well really is the best revenge.

  • Melissa Memmott
    2018-11-23 20:41

    I will never forget the day I had heard Elizabeth was found, let alone found alive. I had heard a little of what happened but my heart hurt reading her day by day description on this story. A great read about faith and miracles. Wishing I could of been a fly on the wall when she was reunited with her family. Having cried as much as I did reading this than any other book. Highly recommended read, with a box of tissues. In awe at how amazing the human body and spirit can heal...created from God.

  • Emily
    2018-11-25 21:23

    Wow. I was so impressed by Elizabeth, and her courage and determination to simply SURVIVE. What she suffered was unthinkable. The evil in that man is inexcusable. What bothered me the most was the fact that he consistently used GOD as a reason for absolutely every vile thing he did. SICK man. This is what I have such a hard time with...people distorting the reality of God, and who He is, to simply suit their own selfish desires. I also greatly appreciated her positive attitude. She could have chosen to dwell on the negative, and play the victim. She refused. Even during her captivity, she made herself look for things to be thankful for each day. I'm sure her positive attitude despite the negative situation, contributed greatly to her survival. What a read. I couldn't put it down. I read a lot of the other reviews, where people were complaining about the ghost writer and the poor quality of writing. And while it might not be the most complex in structure, it gives a very clear picture of what Elizabeth is wanting to convey. And THAT is why I gave this book five stars. For anyone to live through that, be able to tell about it, to forgive the perpetrator(s), and to move on and live a happy, contented, successful life, is phenomenal. Then, to go on and establish a foundation, and speak regularly to other victims... she deserves more than five stars, in my opinion!

  • Aimee
    2018-12-01 21:19

    You're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.And you're not a little girl, Elizabeth. You weren't even a little girl way back in 2002.I'm sorry for Elizabeth for what happened to her, but that's all, and it's not going to be enough to carry her throughout adulthood.And her ghostwriter? He's supposed to be fairly well-known and presumably competent in his field, but he seems to have been half-asleep for this one. I can't imagine docile, passive Elizabeth defying his editorial advice and insisting that her writing was best, but stranger things have happened, I guess.Her naivety is astounding. I don't think we can pin all or even most of the blame on the LDS Church; I think Elizabeth is by nature an extremely gullible, easily cowed kind of person and so she was the perfect brainwashing subject ... and now she and/or her parents have brainwashed her into believing she wasn't brainwashed.It annoys me whenever she gets her face on some newscast as an expert on child abductions. She has so little insight into her own experience as a victim that I feel it is irresponsible to present her as having insight into the experiences of others. The things she says could be said by anybody who's glanced at a few true crime books or a basic psychology text.I'm sure she's a perfectly nice woman in person, and again, I feel sorry for her, but this book was not only badly written but also paints its author in a very unflattering light.

  • Gail
    2018-11-26 17:15

    Definitely worth reading/listening to. Here are the problems -- the writing isn't amazing, which I can overlook, but the toughest thing was that it's read by Elizabeth Smart herself, who often reads it as though she is reading a children's book or a young adult to someone, as in "My Life as a Zany Teenager" or something. I would be thinking, "Whoa this is not like wearing a bad outfit to school," but that's how it sounds. Obviously she didn't feel that way about it, but she sometimes reads it that way, which trivializes how horrible it was.On why-you-should-read-this: You just can't believe this happened to her and she survived. I was grateful that she avoided being graphic. But definitely you knew the terrible things she endured. Even though I knew the ending, my heart was pounding! And when she was reunited with her family, I couldn't stop crying.Brooke & I both agreed that while we were listening, the book consumed us. I thought about Elizabeth, Wanda and Mitchell last thing before bed and first thing upon awakening. It was interesting to me that she hardly mentions her Dad, but loved her Mom sooooo much, and mentions her repeatedly. I also REALLY enjoyed listening to how she has coped post-kidnapping.

  • Jami
    2018-12-08 17:18

    This story is beyond remarkable. It cuts like a sharp knife along the most fundamental of human natures. If ever there was a reason to believe in God, Elizabeth Smart gives it. If ever there was a reason to reject the very idea of a God, Brian David Mitchell gives it. This books forces you to choose between good and evil in a most powerful way.Regardless of the book's impact on society's belief systems, there's no doubt this is one of the most remarkable survival stories of our times. Elizabeth's family and their values kept her alive and helped her heal. Her mother, her family, and her God provided all that she needed to heal and move forward with her remarkable life. She's truly amazing.At the end of the book, she makes the point of how lucky she is for so many reasons. For one, her abuser was not part of her family. I want to highlight that point here, of how difficult healing and moving forward can be for those who have been hurt by the very people who are supposed to love and protect them.

  • Marla
    2018-11-25 01:23

    I remember when Elizabeth was taken. It was horrific at the time and horrific again to listen to Elizabeth read her book about what happened to her. What a strong individual Elizabeth has become and I'm so glad she is living her life with joy and happiness so she doesn't give anymore power to her captors. I know she says no one knows what she went through, that the fear can paralyze you but I still wonder why she didn't yell her name when the police officer confronted them at the library and was quiet when they were caught. I understand she didn't want to cause her family harm, but it's too bad she didn't have faith that the police would keep her safe. I do know because of listening to this book, I'm going to look a little closer at people as I walk by and see if they are sending signals with their eyes or body language. And I hope Elizabeth's story helps children who do happen to get taken to have strength to survive.

  • Katie W
    2018-11-30 21:26

    It's so hard to rate a book like this one. There are some hard things to read about, yet I loved the way Elizabeth Smart was able to rise above this experience. Her ability, at a fairly young age, to decipher reality from fantasy (a crazy man's ideas of life) was very inspiring. I can't imagine what she went through and the fear that she felt. I had just moved to the Valley about a year before this happened and remember hearing about it in the news. In fact, I was in the area where she was found just a few hours before she was discovered. It was such a happy miracle that she was found. Content: nothing graphic, but some hard-to-read material (rape, kidnapping, abuse)

  • Elizabeth
    2018-11-18 23:43

    AUDIOBOOKI lived in Salt Lake City in 2002 when Smart was abducted from her bedroom less than a mile from my student apartment in the foothills. Along with thousands of others, I helped search for her. Nine months later, I fell to my knees and cried when I got a phone call from my brother: "Turn on the TV! They found Elizabeth Smart!"I preordered this book with great anticipation, wanting to hear about Smart's ordeal in her own words. The book does not disappoint. She recounts her abduction with great detail, sharing the story linearly. It is gripping. She doesn't share as much about her life after the abduction as some would like, but I imagine that choice was due to her desire to maintain some semblance of privacy to her life. I listened to this as an audiobook, and I would highly recommend that choice. Smart has a humor and sarcasm that comes through very strongly through her voice. In fact, I'm not sure the written word would have the same effect. Her reading made me laugh out loud at times. My only difficulty with the book is simply that Smart doesn't quite express to the reader/listener just how harrowing this ordeal must have been (though this could be a result of hearing it rather than reading it). She is so adept at seeing her captors with disdain and derision at this point (11 years later), that you almost get the idea that she was able to scoff at them all the way along. I'm sure the story she told her parents in the weeks after her discovery was closer to the heart emotionally than this telling is. But still, I credit her for thumbing her nose at these terrible people and being able to move on. Good for her, even if the story did come off a little more arms-length than I would have liked. I'm glad I only had housework to do today; I couldn't turn this off! A great book with some important lessons.

  • Jeanette
    2018-11-26 17:31

    Out of respect for what she went through, and her willingness to put it all out there in detail, I'm giving this three stars. However, my rating comes with the qualifier that I probably would not have come even close to finishing the book if I had been reading it in print rather than listening to the audio book. And for fuck's sake, Elizabeth, how many times did you need to repeat "and then he raped me"? Having that done to you every day is horrid, traumatic, unforgivable. Telling us again and again in exactly the same words weakens the impact of your story.For a thoughtful, well-argued review of this book, I refer you to this one by one of my GR friends:

  • Jan
    2018-11-18 00:32

    I gave this book four stars because it is a local story that we, my harpist daughter and our family, were swept up by and lived through. We ached with the Smart family when there were public gaffes, we struggled with them when they and some of their relatives were accused, we were angry when the police seemed to bungle, we wept on the day Elizabeth returned home.Reading the story was painful, shocking, and otherworldly. This young girl was dragged into hell and survived it. She almost died from lack of water, from living a week with no food, from being raped daily, from exposure. She is strong, and has proven that with the life she has pulled together in the last ten years.She is a beginning writer, and on more than one occasion in the book contradicted herself after making a statement of fact. I think her ghost writer could have caught the dozen or so times and just changed a word or two to keep the flow going with her story.I taught school with Mrs. Mitchell and witnessed bruises and black eyes that she attributed to her son (the kidnapper), who at the time was still quite young. She seemed scared to death of him and even had a restraining order signed against him.Still, Elizabeth is so brave to write most of the sordid details. She has opened the story up to the world in order to be able to help other abused or kidnapped children through her foundation. I honor her. I am so glad she was able to come home, and more, to get her life back on track. And I am glad she shared her story.This book is not for the feint of heart or teenagers. The facts are graphic and horrible, and she lived to tell them.She is a survivor.

  • Karin
    2018-11-16 00:25

    Elizabeth Smart--most of us are old enough to remember when she was abducted, how her parents kept her in the news and the general story of what happened. This memoir doesn't start with the actual kidnapping; that happens several chapters later, and it doesn't end right at her rescue. If you are looking for graphic details of her abuse and rape, you won't find it, and I for one am glad for her sake and mine. What you will find is what the title says, her story. What I learned most about was her emotions, her thoughts, her reactions. Yes, I learned things I hadn't known about her nine months of hell since I didn't follow the trial.This was a tough book to rate. On the one hand, at times I felt that the way she reads the audiobook is a bit exaggerated, but on the other I think it really reflects her thoughts and feelings at the ages of 14 and 15. But I have admired how her family handled things after her rescue, how she moved on (and she does explain the things she found therapeutic later, even though it wasn't counselling, and I have to say that both of them can be very therapeutic and I knew about those, not in her life, but in other areas, already). But I really thing it is better than just a like or just average; I'm not sure what it would be like to read it in print. Most of all, I admire her advocacy and work that she's doing now. It is so true that someone who has been through something can understand in a way others can't, although that shouldn't stop others from helping.

  • Angie
    2018-11-17 00:36

    This was a hard book to review. Can I say 2.75? Two isn't enough and three is too generous. I truly sympathize with her story. What she went through was awful, inhumane and shameful. Utterly heartbreaking. However, this book didn't do her story justice. It seemed very juvenile and simplistic. The overuse of exclamation points almost made me stop the book several pages in. The horrific events weren't described in detail, I get why; but nothing was either. I think we got a very watered down version of the story. I wonder how much of this book she actually wrote. Definitely not what I expected from this true first person account

  • Chelsea
    2018-12-14 00:38

    In the book, Smart changed some of the facts she testified to during Mitchell's trial. This bothers me to no end. Smart does not acknowledge or explain these discrepancies. ("Thou sayest"/"I am Elizabeth") I'm quite sure Stewart did most of the writing and Smart simply interjected a few thoughts. Much of what is written comes off as defesive, disdainful, and sarcastic. Smart claims in the epilouge that she has moved on without any professional counseling, but the tone "she" writes with does not align with how she claims she feels. I don't know if this is a problem created by Smart and Stewart writing together, or if it is truly how she describes these events.

  • Kathy Worrellツ
    2018-11-22 18:40

    Elizabeth's story of her nine months of rape, torture, and abuse was horrific! I can't even express how sad and angry I felt reading about her kidnapping by that vile pedophile and his wife. Elizabeth Smart is an amazing woman! I love her attitude, her outlook, and her faith in the Lord. The epilogue was truly inspirational!