Last week I spent three, anxiety-filled days reading Elizabeth Smart’s book entitled My Story. While it was a fascinating, gripping read, I would not recommend the book to anyone else, particularly anyone with children. Here’s why:
1. Her abduction and following nine months of rape, captivity, indoctrination, and abuse were truly horrible, evil events caused by horrible, evil people. She doesn’t mince words and tells her story how it really happened, thus the book includes horrible evil events. However, the author does a truly wonderful job at describing her faith, the love of God and His tender-mercies, and the love of her family throughout the story. This part of her story is inspirational and, for me, an encouragement to strengthen my personal relationship with God and my family.
2. I felt on-edge throughout the entire book. Ty would ask me simple questions and I would snap back at him. I would have nightmares of Elizabeth’s experiences happening to me, or worse, to Henley.
3. I am so nervous about Henley being abducted now. Not something I was worried about before.
4. When Ty read the book, just after I had finished it, he was stressed and tense for a few days. Me being anxious coupled with him being anxious made for some rough days in the Hawkins household.
All in all, I think I came through the reading of My Story with inspiration to do better in my own life more than with feelings of dread. It was a fascinating re-telling of her experiences and I gained a deep respect for her as an individual. Her ability to tell her story is amazing and her path to healing is almost unbelievable. It’s hard to classify this book as good or bad. There are a lot of very awful things discussed but the very same chapters, pages, or sentences which describe the evil also describe the good. It’s a story of abuse. It’s also a story of love and mercy. My recommendation to not read this book comes solely from the anxiety it created in my family life. On all other levels, it was a good read.
One last suggestion: if you do decide to read this memoir, make sure you read it when others are around! It is scary and you will feel like someone is going to jump through the window and grab you as you read.
My utmost respect and admiration goes out to Elizabeth Smart and others who have survived similar experiences. Thank you for your courage in sharing your stories. While it is challenging to read about such evil deeds, sharing those experiences is what creates enough discomfort in the general population to spark change in laws and policies. Thanks for changing my perspective and encouraging me to be a better person.