Non-Fiction. Published 2009.
Read: April 2012, 464 pages
In September 2007, a packed courtroom in St. George, Utah, sat hushed as Elissa Wall, the star witness against polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, gave captivating testimony of how Jeffs forced her to marry her first cousin at age fourteen. This harrowing and vivid account proved to be the most compelling evidence against Jeffs, showing the harsh realities of this closed community and the lengths that Jeffs went to in order to control the women in it. Now, in this courageous memoir, Elissa Wall tells her incredible and inspirational story of her time in the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), detailing how she emerged from its confines to help bring one of America’s most notorious criminals to justice.
This is an excellent, timely, eye opening book and a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in issues involving women in our country during this century. It describes the upbringing of Elissa Wall and FLDS teachings. Her story is heroic and strong. She becomes empowered and fights against the monsters that created her hell to help save others in her situation. Elissa is continually forced to “stay sweet”, a common phrase used when you are shattering inside, but can’t let it show. It’s remarkable and repulsive to learn that practices such as this continue to happen in our country.. Elissa just escaped in 2005!
Elissa grew up in the FLDS as a strong believer with a large family and three ‘mothers’. Her youth was chaotic enough, but then the unimaginable came to life as she was forced to marry her first cousin at the age of fourteen. Elissa endured severe abuse at the hands of her husband as well as a still birth and three miscarriages before her eighteenth birthday. Elissa bravely details her family life, tragedies, and triumphs as she comes to know the outside world and fatefully meets her now husband Lamont. Her life was indoctrinated with false testimonies by a false prophet and her bewildered upbringings are deeply expressed and clearly detailed in her inspiring memoir.
The most fascinating bit I found was how someone can become so indoctrinated with blind faith even in a world of internet and vast knowledge. Elissa had exposure to the outside world at times but was too afraid to forever lose her mother and too confused if she would be damned to hell for leaving. When she meets Lamont in a truly fateful turn of events, she finds true love and I believe it is her love for Lamont that helps un-tint her indoctrinations and breathe. Elissa has gone to extraordinary lengths to help FLDS women and children since her escape. She is a beautiful person and a true servant.
It turned out that the envelopes were tithing letters from the FLDS people. They had been opened just enough to extract the money inside but not enough to have read the letters. We’d heard one from a five year old boy, telling Warren that he prayed it would be enough to send back his father, who had apparently lost the priesthood and had his family taken away. -p362
I looked at that picture and saw what I was fighting for. People, girls, were still being put in my position, and I needed to stand up and make it right. To fight for those who still hadn’t found their voice. -p367
When I was young, my mother taught me that evil flourishes when good men do nothing. This has not been easy. The easy thing would have been to do nothing. But I have followed my heart and spoken the truth. -p427
I hope this book reaches the many young girls and women around the world whose faces I’ll never see and whose names I’ll never know, and perhaps in some way my words will help them to use their strength to reclaim what is rightfully theirs– the power of choice. -p436