Saturday, March 22, 2014

MY STORY - Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart - Review


Picture and Description taken from GoodReads


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.

My Review / Thoughts:

I don't even know how to start.  I am a mother of two daughters and I have hesitated reading this book, because of the things I knew I was going to be reading about.  The thought of one of my children being taken away from me is my worst nightmare.  I cannot even begin to imagine what this family went through during the 9 months Elizabeth was gone.  Even more, I cannot even fathom all the things Elizabeth went through and turned out to be such a beautiful and inspiring young woman.

I have heard some people call this book "too positive", or "she had to loose faith at some point".  Why?  Why is it so hard for a person to believe that they could hold onto their faith no matter what.  Especially if that is the ONLY thing they had to hold onto.  I don't know what book they were reading, because I could feel the utter despair she felt at times, and it was heart wrenching.  I didn't feel that she was too positive, and even if she was, MORE power to her!  

Like I said before, I had been hesitant about reading this book, but I had heard so many good things about it, that I finally broke down and bought it.  I am so glad I did.  It was very hard to read at times, but it also gave me a better appreciation for what I have, and what the Lord has given me and blessed me with.  

Elizabeth went through 9 months of pure Hell.  Even after reading the book, it hard for me to fathom that such evil is even out there.  I know it is, but to read about it just reaffirms that there really are just plain evil people out there.  My heart broke for this poor 14 yr old girl who was taken from the comfort of her own home.  Her OWN HOME...Still blows my mind.   Forced to do horrible, and unspeakable things for any young woman!  Yet, throughout it all, she found ways to find the "good" in life.  I don't know who she did it.  Even reading what she found as "good", all I could think is "how could she think that was good"?  But, as you read on you realize that they were tender little mercies here and there to hep her make it through her 9 months of Hell.

I want to believe that I would never question the love my Father in Heaven had for me or my faith in him, but I don't know what I would have done.  I want to think I would always remember, and I hope that I never have to find out, but her simple faith, and desire to be with her family again, was absolutely beautiful.

There are some things I underlined in the book that I want to share...I don't think I have to worry about giving too much away, since you know how it ends :).

Page 8
This is a quote from one of Elizabeth Smarts Sunday School Teachers
"If you will pray to do what God wants you to do, he will change your life"
(She thought about this during a dark and hard night...remembering that no matter what God COULD change her life.  Even if it had to be 30 years from then when she outlived her captures)

Page 10
"When faced with pain and evil, we have to make a choice.  We can choose to be taken by evil OR we can try to embrace the Good".
(If Elizabeth Smart can feel that way while living with two of the worlds most horrible human beings, surely there is nothing in my life that I cannot overcome, and find the good in all things!)

Page 60
This is a quote from Elizabeth's mother when Elizabeth was feeling "sad" about not being invited to a party.
"You know that "popular" is just another name for rude"
later on this same page she says
"Elizabeth, you're going to meet lots of people in this life.  Some will like you.  Some of them won't.  But of all the people you'll have to deal with, there are only a few people that matter.  God.  And your dad and me.  God will always love you.  You are His daughter.  He will never turn his back on you.  The same thing is true for me.  It doesn't matter where you go, or what you do, or whatever else might happen, I will always love you.  You will always be my daughter.  Nothing can change that"

Page 282 
After she has been returned to her family this is from her older brother Charles
"I have felt so terrible, not only because I wasn't there to protect you, but because the last thing I ever said to you was to tease you about some stupid little thing.  I am so sorry!  I am so sorry.  But I promise, never again will I say good-bye without telling you I love you.  That will always be the last thing I say whenever we say good-bye again"

Then my favorite quote (or few paragraphs :) of the whole book ....
Page 285-286
From Elizabeth's sweet mother, who I love by the way!  She is amazing.
"Elizabeth, what this man has done is terrible.  There aren't any words that are strong enough to describe how wicked and evil he is!  He has taken nine months of your life that you will never get back again.  But the best punishment you could ever give him is to be happy.  To move forward with your life.  To do exactly what you want.  Because, yes, this will probably go to trial and some kind of sentencing will be given to him and that wicked woman.  But even if that's true, you may not feel like justice has been served or that true restitution has been made.
"But you don't need to worry about that.  At the end of the day, God is our ultimate judge.  He will make up to you every pain and loss that you have suffered.  And if it turns out that these wicked people are not punished here on Earth, it doesn't matter.  His punishments are just.  You don't ever have to worry.  You don't ever have to think about them again.  
"You be happy, Elizabeth.  Just be happy.  If you go and feel sorry for yourself, or if you dwell on what has happened, if you hold on to your pain, that is allowing him to steal more of your life away.  So don't you do that!  Don't you let him!  There is no way that he deserves that.  Not one more second of your life.  You keep every second for yourself.  You keep them and be happy.  Good will take care of the rest"

Such a wise and loving mother.  I don't think I would have had the guts to share my story.  I am sure we have all heard news reports, and stories about Elizabeth Smart.  Read this one!  This is her account.  Her outlook on what happened to her, and her beautiful rescue.  She is absolutely amazing.  Beautiful.  Powerful.  Loving.  A true example of faith and love.  

I could go on and on, but you should pick it up for yourself!  It really is an inspiring book.  A beautiful lesson on faith, hope and forgiveness.  

Source:  I bought this book for myself on Amazon.  I am not affiliated with Amazon in any way, and was not compensated in any way for my review.  These are my own PERSONAL thoughts on the book.

My Rating:
It deserves so much more than 5 stars!  So much more!!!!

Where to Buy:

About the Authors:

Elizabeth Smart
Pic and Bio taken from Elizabeth Smart Foundation

Most Americans can remember where they were March 12, 2003 when the news broke that Elizabeth Smart had been recovered and was safely back with her family. Elizabeth’s captors had controlled her by threatening to kill her and her family if she tried to escape.  Her abduction and recovery motivated parents, law enforcement, and leaders world-wide to focus on children’s safety, the vigilance of every day people in finding missing children,  and the belief that there is always hope, we can never stop searching for each and every missing child.

Elizabeth recently finished serving an LDS mission in France following her dream to share with others what has given her strength.  During this past year she triumphantly testified before her captor and the world about the very private nightmare she suffered for nine months and how she determined to survive and continue her life after tragedy.  Elizabeth will finish at Brigham Young University studying music with an emphasis on harp performance in spring of 2012.  Elizabeth has become an advocate for change related to child abduction and recovery programs and legislation.  As well as being involved in, ”Elizabeth Smart Foundation.” Elizabeth has helped promote The National AMBER Alert, The Adam Walsh Child Protection & Safety Act and other safety legislation to help prevent abductions.  Two years ago Elizabeth worked with the Department of Justice and four other recovered young adults in creating a survivors guide, entitled – “You’re Not Alone: The Journey From Abduction to Empowerment.” to encourage children who have gone through similar experiences to not give up and know that there is life after tragic events.


Chris Stewart

pic and bio taken from GoodReads

Chris Stewart is a bestselling author and world-record-setting Air Force pilot whose previous military techno-thrillers have been selected by the Book of the Month Club and published in six different countries. He is the author of the highly acclaimed series The Great and Terrible, as well as A Christmas Bell for Anya, which was performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during their 2005 Christmas concert. He has also been a guest editorialist for the Detroit News, commenting on matters of military readiness and national security. He is president of The Shipley Group, a nationally recognized consulting and training company and founder of the Utah Renaissance and Leadership Center.