Author: Elissa Wall with Lisa Pulitzer
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Copyright: October 2009
# of Pages: 464 pp (Nook edition)
Reason for Reading: (a) It was on sale for a very low price at Barnes & Noble for the e-book edition and (b) I am interested in the subject matter.
The emotional drama of the day had worn me out, and I dressed for bed the minute we returned to our room from dinner that night. After a few short minutes I dozed off to sleep, but when I woke up I knew something was not right. Dazed, I realized that I was in bed next to Allen and he was undressing me. In spite of all his promises, here I was just a few hours reunited with him and already he was going back on his word. Catching him beside me unfastening my nightgown brought back a flood of old feelings. I loathed him and I hated what he was doing to me. It was an instant reminder of how many times it had happened and how he’d refused to stop even as I begged him to. I’d just confided the harrowing events of the past few weeks, and the fact that he would even think of pushing himself on me in this way only proved to me how little he thought of me. To him I was merely an object of sexual desire. There was no me, just a body.
“This is going to be the exact same thing all over again,” I blurted out. “All your promises, they mean nothing. Nothing has changed.”
“I’m doing it out of love,” Allen declared. Everything he did was a contradiction, and before I knew it he was playing the guilt card again. As he continued to put his hands all over me, I just froze.
“Okay, fine,” I uttered. “Get it over with.”
Elissa Wall was 14 when Warren Jeffs, a leader of the Fundamentalist LDS Church (FLDS) forced her to marry one of her cousins, a boy who had taken every opportunity to torture her when they were children. Although she was brought up in the FLDS religion, and was thoroughly indoctrinated in it, that act was the beginning of the end. Unfortunately for Wall, she was repeatedly raped by her then husband. She went to Jeffs pleading for a release, to no avail. She escaped her husband every chance she got, going so far as to live in the pick-up truck she used to run her business. Finally she managed to get away.
What I Liked: While it was incredibly painful to read, I appreciate Wall’s agonized honesty throughout the book. Readers who were never involved in such an all-consuming religion will be asking how anyone could possibly fall for all the crap (for lack of a better word) handed down to them by the leaders of the church (all men). Women are counseled to “stay sweet,” which basically means to submit with a smile to whatever they are ordered to do. I also really liked that, unlike many, Wall did manage to escape the grasp of the FLDS. I liked that she had an amazing support system that got her through the trial that won Jeffs a conviction on two counts of rape as an accomplice.
What I Didn’t Like: There was nothing I didn’t like about the book itself. There was plenty to dislike about the ordeals, so vividly depicted by Wall and Pulitzer, that so many women and children experience. I find it horrific, and pray that polygamy in the United States never does become legal, not because I do not support freedom of religion, but because I do not believe that free practice of religion trumps other factors, such as sexual assault, child abandonment, physical and sexual abuse.
Personal note: I apologize for not getting this posted on Wednesday. Those of you who have followed my personal blog know that my house burned down two and a half weeks ago, and everything in my life is completely insane right now. But the important thing is that we got out safely, and we had insurance.