"It's funny, some of the things that I remember, many of the details forever burned in my mind. It's as if I can still smell the air, hear the mountain leaves rustle above me, feel the fabric of the veil that Brian David Mitchell stretched across my face. I can picture every detail of my surroundings: the tent, the washbasin, the oppressive dugout full of spiders and mice. I can feel the cut of the steel cable wrapped so tightly around my ankle, the scorch of the summer heat lifting off the side of the hill, the swaying of the Greyhound bus as we fled to California. I remember so many overwhelming feelings and emotions. Terror that is utterly indescribable, even to this day. Embarrassment and shame so deep, I felt as if my very worth had been tossed upon the ground. Despair. Starving hunger. Fatigue and thirst and a nakedness that bares on to the bones. Intruding hands. Pain and burning. The leering look of his dark eyes. A deep longing for my family. A heartbreaking yearning to go home. Looking back, I realized that at one point, early on the morning of the first day, something had changed inside me. After I had been raped and brutalized, there was something new inside my soul. There was a burning now inside me, a fierce determination that no matter what I had to do, I was going to live! I also discovered something that is harder to imagine, and much more difficult to explain. Sometime during the first couple of days, I realized that I wasn't alone. There were others there beside me, unseen but not unfelt. Sometimes I could picture them beside me, reaching for my hand. And that is on of the reasons I am still alive." I'm going to be perfectly honest with you-this book is going to be HARD for me to review! I will tell you right now if you aren't comfortable with the issue of rape skip this one. Elizabeth Smart is about a year older than I am. I remember when she was taken because it scared me! She was a girl about my age and only lived an hour away from me! It was very real and very close to home. Her kidnapping was everywhere on billboards and in the media. I remember it was summer and one night I went around shutting all of the windows because I was freaked out about someone coming through the screens and taking me. So to read this book period made me a little apprehensive! I will admit that reading it did scare me! Elizabeth didn't sugar coat her experience at all. She tells about being taken from her home at knife point and dragged up into the mountains. There she became the "second wife" to a psychopath and his psychopath wife. Essentially she talks about becoming a slave to Wanda Barzee and a sex toy for Brian David Mitchell for her nine months of captivity. She talks about the horror of being cabled to a tree and being able to her rescuers and not being able to call out for help. She rehashes each horror and terrifying situation with complete honesty. Had the story been only these facts I think I might have abandoned it for simply not being able to handle the sadness of it all. BUT Elizabeth Smart also weaves another tale throughout the story. It's a story about faith and tender mercies. It's a tale about gratitude and forgiveness and some seriously big miracles. I felt her spirit radiating through the pages almost as if it was reaching out and saying that even in the darkest times there is light. As a person she is truly inspiring! "Life is a journey for us all. We all face trials. We all have ups and downs. All of us are human. But we are also the masters of our fate. We are the ones who decide how we are going to react to life. Yes, I could have decided to allow myself to be handicapped by what happened to me. But I decided very early that I only had one life and that I wasn't going to waste it. As of this writing, I am twenty-five years old. I have been alive for 307 months. Nine of those months have been very good. I have been happy. I have been very blessed. Who knows how many more months I have to live? But even if I died tomorrow, nine out of 307 seems like pretty good odds."
"I also believe in faith. Faith in a loving and kind Heavenly Father who will always care about me. Faith that my worth will never be diminished. Faith that God knows how I feel and that I can depend on him to help me through it all. I believe that God not only suffered for me, but that He will make everything up to me in His own time and His own way. That gives me the peace I need to feel like justice will win out in the end."