Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Story

My StoryMy Story by Elizabeth Smart

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have let this books sit in my mind for a couple of days before writing my review. As the mother of a 14-year-old daughter, I can't imagine the pain and suffering Elizabeth Smart and her family went through during her nine month ordeal. I want to approach my review with sensitivity and the knowledge that I can never truly understand what she was thinking or feeling during her kidnapping and captivity. But, as always, I need to be honest with my opinions as well. Please understand this while you read my thoughts.

I chose to listen to this book on audio rather than read it because Elizabeth Smart narrates it herself. I wanted to hear her words in her own voice, and I'm glad I did. It was a constant reminder of how young she was when she was taken, and how young she still is now. The teenaged inflections, the utter disdain that comes through, really made her thoughts come to life.

But while she was very detailed about the beginning weeks of her captivity, she time-jumped quite a bit towards the end. They spent six months in California but she told fewer stories about that time. I don't know if it was from monotony or if she has forgotten or did not want to share specifics, but it left me with some lingering questions. And that's ok; it's her private life.

A few things I am left with: 1) it bothered me that she kept referring to herself as a little girl. She was adamant about this, and referred to herself as "just a little girl" numerous times. As the mother of a 14-year-old girl, and having once been a 14-year-old myself, I found this odd. I understand that people are different, and perhaps it was because she was somewhat sheltered, but I don't know any young lady around that age who refers to themselves as a little girl. That is the age they are entering high school and are striving to grow up. I feel it is more likely that she now looks back on it and realizes she was way too young to experience such depravity, and is applying it to how she might have felt at the time.
2) she was very adamant that she did not bond with her captors or attempt to get along with them. This seems unlikely as well. She made it a point to tell us this so many times that I felt it was like she was testifying at a parole hearing to keep them behind bars. Elizabeth, absolutely no one would blame you if you did whatever it took to stay alive. If you were pleasant to them or tried not to make waves, we completely understand. This is at complete odds with the fact that you had numerous opportunities to either escape or alert someone, including police questioning you, of your identity. I am not saying you wanted to be with them, not at all. But you were in public places many times in both California and Utah with questioning eyes on you, and I would think that you would have wanted to get to safety at any cost. That's all. Again, I'm not judging, just speculating what I would do in that situation.
3) her faith is amazing. I can't imagine holding onto faith in a god who would allow me to be kidnapped, raped, and emotionally terrorized for nine months. My brain can't wrap around it. It is nice that she still has her faith, because I'm sure other people would be bitter after what she has been through. She claims to have seen no counselors, received no therapy, and has grown up to be a successful young woman, so good for her.

Overall, an interesting story, and I would definitely recommend the audio version so you can hear it in her own voice.

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