Friday, December 19, 2014

My Story - Elizabeth Smart

My Story
I remember when Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped. And when she was found. The story captured media attention, but it resonated particularly with me. I am, after all, only a few months older than Elizabeth. What happened to her could have happened to me. 

Over the years, I have followed her story with interest. It seems she has turned into a beautiful, competent, compassionate woman - something that should hardly be taken for granted considering the trauma she was subjected to as a young teenager.

This memoir is her own recollection of the events surrounding and during her kidnapping. She sticks pretty exclusively to the nine months she spent with her abductors and only briefly touches on the trial at the end. Though I, along with many readers, I'm sure, would like to know more about her life since the kidnapping, Smart is very private and clearly wants most details of her life to remain undisclosed. 

You have to give her credit, though. She's feeding the media monster just enough to keep it satiated (this book, her wedding photos in People magazine), but no more. I give her props for that. After all, it's not like she chose to be a public figure. She seems to be using the influence she does have for good, raising awareness and such for other victims.

The book itself is interesting, horrifying, and fairly bland for the events it depicts. Smart, while referencing the horrible things that happened to her, still keeps things pretty vague in the details of those horrible things. I am sure she hardly wanted to tap into detailed memories of those events. Still, for those looking for a sensational expose on her life as a child abuse victim, you won't find it here. Her verbage is vague and fairly innocent, reflective of the child she was when the whole thing happened, I suppose. 

This is not a book I can really say I enjoyed, given its topic, but it was what I expected and I enjoyed it for what it is. I was fascinated to learn some of the details of Smart's time in captivity and how Brian David Mitchell exerted control over her through fear and threats of violence. Smart makes it very clear that she was kept under his influence through the power he exerted over her. Reading her story makes it easy to understand why she didn't just run off any time they were in public. The man had threatened to kill her and her family should she try to escape. He ruled her world with terror.

It's encouraging to see how Smart has chosen to live her life optimistically since her kidnapping. As she points out, she has lived 300+ months now in her life and, while 9 of them were horrible, the rest have been good and filled with many blessings. It's obvious that her faith has strongly influenced this perspective and that holding onto it has kept her focused and grateful for the good things she has. 

I do recommend the book. It's tough reading at parts, but it is eye opening. Not only is it fascinating to hear the story from the perspective of the victim, but also a good reminder of how we can help those around us. The people you want to cheer for are the ones who made an effort to reach out to Elizabeth during her captivity or who called the police when they saw her or who served meals to the homeless. Smart's book is a beautiful reminder to keep your eyes and hearts open to those in need, even if the actual writing is a bit bland. 

Pages: 308
Date Completed: November 27, 2014

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