Brian David Mitchell and his complicit wife Wanda Ileen Barzee. A particularly naive and innocent fourteen-year-old, Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her bedroom during the night on June 5, 2002. She was rescued nine months later on March 12, 2003, because she outsmarted her captors. I remember the day of her rescue so well. America was surprised and overjoyed that the girl presumed dead for many months had been found alive!
The memoir My Story is somewhat repetitive — in part, because the author does not graphically relate or sensationalize the numerous vile deeds perpetrated upon her but rather couches the events in the same words over and over again. But don't abandon the book because of the repetitiveness. Reading this memoir until its conclusion is worthwhile!
The last portion of the book, the portion telling the details of what was going through her mind when he hesitated to tell the police her identity, is particular riveting. In fact, I lost a few hours of sleep because I just had to stay up late to hear Elizabeth Smart's explanation of her own tentative reaction on the day of her rescue. She didn't hesitate for several long minutes to say "My name is Elizabeth" because, as many have assumed, she suffered from Stockholm Syndrome. Instead, she was terrified and for good reason: at one point while she was being held prisoner and shackled to trees, Brian David Mitchell almost successfully abducted Elizabeth's favorite cousin Olivia via a nightly home invasion.
The book also makes a convincing case that Brian David Mitchell was neither mentally ill nor a religious nutcase. On the contrary, several details seem to prove that he was, above all else, a conniving sociopath and sadist. Although Mitchell's wife did not receive the same long prison sentence as her husbnad, this book reveals, without explicitly so stating, the Wanda Ileen Barzee was as much a monster as her husband.
I recommend the audio version of Elizabeth Smart's My Story because Elizabeth Smart has recorded the CD's herself. Her story is more powerful told in her own sweet voice and without a trace of bitterness. Furthermore, her ability to resume life without apparent vestiges of emotional damage is a testimony to the ability of the human spirit to overcome tragedy and travesty.
I give this memoir four stars out of five.
Please read this article, dated October 11, 2013, for more insights related to Elizabeth Smart's ability to deal with horrible adversity.
Video from October 2013:
Not all of us can handle life's storms as well as Elizabeth Smart has! However, maybe we can learn from this brave woman how to do better in that regard.