My Story eBook ¼ Hardcover

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 crimeOn 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 lifeNow 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 servedIn 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


10 thoughts on “My Story

  1. says:

    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 hereI 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 herPerhaps my distaste really all stems from the feelings I just can't get over that the LDS andor 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 fly1 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 pointI can't describe the terror p 26He would torture and brutalize me in ways that are impossible to describe p 46I'm sure there were others that I forgot to dog earAnd in the same veinIt was no fun at all ???? p 122 weird p 79You 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 unwittinglyHe 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 nuance A little 'show us not tell us' would be much appreciatedIn repeatedly reminding us that he's not crazy perhaps what she really means is that he was not unfit to stand trial or iswas 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 crazyAnd 3 a qualifier like thisI don't know what the exact definition of despair isPresumably 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 cheapIt 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 enigmaOn top of and severely 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 privilegeI 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 addedMy abduction was to become the most publicized case since p67And thenI 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 p67 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 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 treatedI'll qualify my rating and what I've said with a statement that I wholly respect anyone's effort to confront andor 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 '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 understandableAnd 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 factIf you're really interested listen to the Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross instead But then don't get conned into reading itAdmittedly I should try to have 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


  2. says:

    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 bookElizabeth 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


  3. says:

    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 appealingThe 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 annoyingThere'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 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 than briefly mentioned and quickly glossed over in this bookHas 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 exploredDid 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 mentionedThere 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