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 to which Jeffs went in order to control the sect's women.
Now, in this courageous memoir, Elissa Wall tells the incredible and inspirational story of how she emerged from the confines of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and helped bring one of America's most notorious criminals to justice. Offering a child's perspective on life in the FLDS, Wall discusses her tumultuous youth, explaining how her family's turbulent past intersected with her strong will and identified her as a girl who needed to be controlled through marriage. Detailing how Warren Jeffs's influence over the church twisted its already rigid beliefs in dangerous new directions, Wall portrays the inescapable mind-set and unrelenting pressure that forced her to wed despite her repeated protests that she was too young.
Once she was married, Wall's childhood shattered as she was obligated to follow Jeffs's directives and submit to her husband in "mind, body, and soul." With little money and no knowledge of the outside world, she was trapped and forced to endure the pain and abuse of her loveless relationship, which eventually pushed her to spend nights sleeping in her truck rather than face the tormentor in her bed.
Yet even in those bleak times, she retained a sliver of hope that one day she would find a way out, and one snowy night that came in the form of a rugged stranger named Lamont Barlow. Their chance encounter set in motion a friendship and eventual romance that gave her the strength she needed to break free from her past and sever the chains of the church.
But though she was out of the FLDS, Wall would still have to face Jeffs-this time in court. In Stolen Innocence, she delves into the difficult months on the outside that led her to come forward against him, working with prosecutors on one of the biggest criminal cases in Utah's history, so that other girls still inside the church might be spared her cruel fate.
More than a tale of survival and freedom, Stolen Innocence is the story of one heroic woman who stood up for what was right and reclaimed her life.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great but annoying
The book was well written and a great reading. Elissa Wall is a brave woman that after saving herself from a horrible life continues to save other women. The narrator of this story was a little annoying though. She sounded like she was minutes from tears the ENTIRE book. It gets on your nerves.
Revealing, Insightful ... and yes, Annoying
The story itself is remarkable. Sexism, violence, abuse all wrapped up in a twisted religious frenzy of fear that left Elissa a victim in body and mind. How she and her siblings broke free mentally took courage beyond their years. As the author describes the journey, they were not only going against the authority of the church by leaving but against their GOD, as well. And the price of such rebellion is Hell. What a frightening prospect. How does a person heal from such scarring by the people they love and trust the most?
While the book was a bit long in parts, the author has a story that's more than worth hearing. Whether you're religious or not, this story is an eye opener as it continues to unfold for those still caught up in the FDLS. With Jeffs behind bars, clearly many will be spared further abuse ... but as long as he continues to influence his followers from the inside, there will continue to be victims.
I can't give the audio book more than 2 stars though, as the narration was simply annoying. The inflection was all wrong throughout and fraught with over-acting. The narrators odd pronunciation of certain words became almost unbearable by disc 4 making it tough to finish the book.
Thanks Elissa for explaining the differents between FLDS and LDS. Big Different.!!!
I normally wouldn't read something like this but it was wonderful. I love your honesty, and currage.