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Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Review: Elizabeth Smart's My Story

(If you must have politics, please scroll down)

Today, Elizabeth Smart, recently married to Matthew Gilmour, is twenty-six years old and over ten years distant from the kidnapping and abuse perpetrated upon her by serial pedophile 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:

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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.


  1. The video wouldn't play due to "usage restrictions". Do you have another link, AOW?

    1. Jim,
      This video may not be the same one, but should play for you.

  2. Perhaps some day society will recognize there is something called evil. If ever there was an example, this was one.

    1. Bunkerville,
      Brian David Mitchell and his wife are evil. Period. They belong in the same gallery of rogues as Charles Manson, IMO.

  3. I think of my two daughters when I hear about this story and it so disturbs me that, for the grace of God, it could have been them. A very frightening thought. I'm glad Elizabeth has been able to get her life together.

    1. Cube,
      I'm sure that it hasn't been easy for Elizabeth Smart to put her life back together again. Faith and family saw her through and brought her out on the other side.

  4. hi AOW how heartwarming to overcome some adversity!!!

    1. Angel,
      I'm burned out on politics right now. I just have to look at things that are more uplifting!

  5. I’m not sure one “overcomes” adversity such as this—unless by overcome, you mean learn how to deal with it. What is extraordinary is that people like this have any semblance of a normal life (whatever “normal” means). I imagine that being married to someone like Elizabeth Smart is akin to having to learn how to walk on eggshells.

    1. Sam,
      I imagine that being married to someone like Elizabeth Smart is akin to having to learn how to walk on eggshells.

      Maybe. None of knows what goes on behind their closed doors.

      But one of the themes of her book is that victimology is pointless and serves only to bring on more agony.

  6. One thing seems to be consistent with people who overcome/concur this type of life incidents and that is religion. They seem to have faith in a higher being and themselves.
    I would agree that living with someone who has gone through this would be a challenge but they go on to help others possibly as an escape or as a purpose.

  7. I remember her family, how polite, soft spoken, and seemingly 'in control' they were through the darkest days, weeks, months, then the trial, ...

    Elizabeth was the same sweet soul after as she seemed to be before the horrible ordeal.

    I figured her other family members had been threatened and she kept quiet to save anyone else from experiencing what she was going through.

    Faith must have played a big role in her ability to recover.

    Sounds like a very good read and perhaps a good Christmas present.

    Right Truth

  8. Elizabeth appears to be a most attractive, beautifully poised, sane, well-balanced, well-spoken young person with remarkable wisdom and integrity.

    I believe that her religious background and the loving family who embodies it gave her the courage and strength to overcome an experience that would likely have maimed the psyche and forever tarnished the life of a person who hadn't the benefit of a life grounded in such faith.

    Her apparent lack of anger, and the desire for revenge is especially laudable -- especially in this day and age of "victimology" where many habitually indulge in paroxysms of outrage and despair over someone's merely being called a "name."

    May God's all-powerful, all-encompassing love continue to guide and protect Elizabeth, her husband and the rest of her family for the rest of their days.


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