Tuesday, September 09, 2008

[Book Review] STOLEN INNOCENCE by Elissa Wall


Andrea Bledsoe reviews STOLEN INNOCENCE: My Story of Growing up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs by Elissa Wall (Harper Collins, 2008)

This is the true and devastating tale of Elissa Wall, one of the key witnesses in the trial of the State of Utah versus Warren Jeffs. Recalling her early years growing up in a First Latter Day Saints (FLDS) household, Elissa shares how she was exposed to polygamy firsthand through her own father and his three wives. It was the norm in this environment for men to have multiple wives and for the husbands to sire many children with these women.

Elissa tells her story of how Warren Jeffs rose from the Devotional teacher and principal of the FLDS school, Alta Academy, to the chosen prophet of the congregation after his father Rulon became ill. In this position of power, Jeffs was the person who told the young women’s fathers who their daughters would marry. To Jeffs, it did not matter if the girls were very young teenagers or even related to their future husbands.

In Elissa’s case, Jeffs expected her to marry her first cousin, Alan, when she was only 14-years-old. Because students at Alta Academy were taught that members of the opposite sex were evil and were “snakes,” the young married population did not know how to cope with marital relations of any kind. Fourteen year-old Elissa and nineteen year-old Alan were no exception to these conflicting feelings. Many a time, Elissa pleaded with Warren to “release” her from her marriage to Alan because divorce does not exist in the FLDS community. Finally, after 3 years of begging Jeffs, Elissa escapes from Alan and becomes pregnant by another man. When Jeffs views her pregnancy as an adulterous act, the young couple is released from marriage.

Elissa’s life hasn’t been easy. From being one of many siblings, to getting married very young, having 4 miscarriages when she was under 18, and facing life on the outside, away from the FLDS, Elissa has struggled. I learned a lot from this very sad book.

Andrea Bledsoe, Poplar-White Station Library

Labels: , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?