Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Review: Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall

Summary from Good Reads
In September 2007, a packed courtroom in St. George, Utah, sat hushed as Elissa Wall, the star witness against polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, gave captivating testimony of how Jeffs forced her to marry her first cousin at age fourteen. This harrowing and vivid account proved to be the most compelling evidence against Jeffs, showing the harsh realities of this closed community and the lengths to which Jeffs went in order to control the sect's women.
Now, in this courageous memoir, Elissa Wall tells the incredible and inspirational story of how she emerged from the confines of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and helped bring one of America's most notorious criminals to justice. Offering a child's perspective on life in the FLDS, Wall discusses her tumultuous youth, explaining how her family's turbulent past intersected with her strong will and identified her as a girl who needed to be controlled through marriage. Detailing how Warren Jeffs's influence over the church twisted its already rigid beliefs in dangerous new directions, Wall portrays the inescapable mind-set and unrelenting pressure that forced her to wed despite her repeated protests that she was too young.
Once she was married, Wall's childhood shattered as she was obligated to follow Jeffs's directives and submit to her husband in "mind, body, and soul." With little money and no knowledge of the outside world, she was trapped and forced to endure the pain and abuse of her loveless relationship, which eventually pushed her to spend nights sleeping in her truck rather than face the tormentor in her bed.
Yet even in those bleak times, she retained a sliver of hope that one day she would find a way out, and one snowy night that came in the form of a rugged stranger named Lamont Barlow. Their chance encounter set in motion a friendship and eventual romance that gave her the strength she needed to break free from her past and sever the chains of the church.
But though she was out of the FLDS, Wall would still have to face Jeffs—this time in court. In Stolen Innocence, she delves into the difficult months on the outside that led her to come forward against him, working with prosecutors on one of the biggest criminal cases in Utah's history, so that other girls still inside the church might be spared her cruel fate.
More than a tale of survival and freedom, Stolen Innocence is the story of one heroic woman who stood up for what was right and reclaimed her life.

My Take
Well for one, I thought this book could have been written a little better. Especially because it came from her own life. I felt like i was reading a young adult non-fiction book. However I still really enjoyed the book.  I honestly cant even imagine having to go through all of the trauma. that Elissa did at such a young age. Yes, this is a true story of Elissa Wall's life of growing up in polygamy and finally leaving and doing what is right to protect the other young girls still in polygamy. I felt that Elissa was very brave in doing what she had to do to bring the prophet Warren Jeffs to justice. I cant imagine how hard that trial must have been for her. I also felt bad for the members who strongly believe in the practice of polygamy. They had to watch their prophet (or leader) be put on trial and be accused of things they thought were perfectly fine. I find it interesting that when Elissa comes out of the FLDS she goes on to tell about the clothes and hairstyles that make her more "normal" things I have been doing all my life she is just starting. It shows us that their are many ways of living this life. Elissa's story at times, can bring you to tears. At one point in the story Elissa meets the man she is still with now. I feel if she did not meet him, she would of never had the courage to go up against Warren Jeffs and fight for what is right. I like how the book contains 8 pages of pictures of Elissa's life in polygamy and her life after she has left. I am really happy with the way this book turns out. I felt Elissa did what was right along with all the others who went up against Warren Jeffs. At times this book is shocking and unravels truths that are very interesting about the prophet. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a true story about a young girl growing up in polygamy.

My Rating
* * * * *
5 out of 5 stars

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