Sunday, June 1, 2008

REVIEW

Stolen Innocence - by Elissa Wall with Lisa PulitzerEllissa Wall was brought up in the bosom of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints and at fourteen was forced to marry her older first cousin, and repeatedly raped throughout her 3 year marriage. This is Elissa's story. But it's also a glimpse into the workings of a way of life that many of us would find chilling, yet was perfectly normal for Elissa and her many siblings. We learn how plural marriages work (and at times may even work well for the people who have learned nothing else but this way of life) and how they shouldn't work, we learn how on the whim of one man, a Sister Mother and her children can be taken away; with no explanation, from her husband and given to another man deemed more worthy. We learn how one man used his so-called, influence with God, to force families to shun their own children, sell their business and properties, to live in fear. And, this is also the story of the rise and fall of that very influential, very manipulative man; a man named Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed Prophet of the FLDS. This is a heart breaking story of Elissa's struggle to be the perfect daughter, student, person. We see her struggles even at a very young age to "stay sweet", a common phrase used when you are shattering inside, but can't let it show - and what happens when someone finally breaks her spirit. This is also an example to all women that they can overcome, be brave and even learn to grow from the horrors they may have been forced to endure. One thing that disturbed me is that in this book, we never learn whether or not any of the women actually loved/love their husbands or if their husbands loved/love them and this lack begs the question - when one is never shown a loving relationship between man and wife, when spousal relationships are more like business deals, then how did Elissa know that she would never come to love her husband? I would have like to have seen this addressed.It's remarkable and repulsive to learn that practices such as this go on in our progressive country. These are things we think/pray only happen in third world countries.This is an excellent, timely, eye opening read and should be a 'must' read for anyone interested in issues involving women in our country during this century.