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Publisher's Summary

For the first time, 10 years after her abduction from her Salt Lake City bedroom, Elizabeth Smart reveals how she survived and the secret to forging a new life in the wake of a brutal crime.

On June 5, 2002, 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.

Now for the first time, in her memoir, My Story, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving. Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.

In the nine years after her rescue, Smart transformed from victim to advocate, traveling the country and working to educate, inspire and foster change. She has created a foundation to help prevent crimes against children and is a frequent public speaker. In 2012, she married Matthew Gilmour, whom she met doing mission work in Paris for her church, in a fairy tale wedding that made the cover of People magazine.

©2013 Elizabeth Smart (P)2013 Macmillan Audio

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Defining Strength, Faith, and Inspiration

Dubbed *one of the kidnapping crimes of the century,* the abduction of 14 yr. old Elizabeth Smart from her family home, dominated the news on June 5, 2002. When 9 months later we heard the amazing report that she had been found, we rejoiced...then we pondered the nightmare. Where had she been? What had she gone through? How did she survive? Would she be okay? With this book, and the assistance of Congressman/author Chris Stewart, Smart goes back over her ordeal, and in her own words answers those questions with brave candor and purpose. A story horrific enough that Stewart said he wondered how, after he listened to the details, he would be able to "make it so that people would read it and walk away with more faith, hope and belief in the goodness in life," as Smart intended. And that is exactly what we do walk away with...plus admiration for this incredible woman.

Smart called her ordeal "nine months of hell," but never even hints at self-pity, or fishes for ours. We learn that she endured an almost daily menu of torture, including daily sexual abuse by the depraved Brian David Mitchell -- aka the self proclaimed prophet Emmanuelle. There are no new titillating facts revealed -- it is about the events as she experienced them. Smart and her family have courageously insisted on presenting the facts, but have consistently refused to discuss in the media details of the abuse. She continues to keep the story focused on the crime, free of salacious details, and true to the perspective of a 14 year old innocent and very scared girl. Hearing her narrate her own story makes this all the more poignant. It is heartbreaking to hear her voice tell of the near rescues as they crumbled...looking through her veil at a young boy and wondering how her first date would have gone. And then, with the voice of an indomitable spirit, she makes a brilliant case for Mitchell's and Barzee's competency, that ultimately destroyed their plot to be found legally mentally incompetent to stand trial for their crimes.

Through all of this darkness, with the exception of sharing a few deservedly low moments, she amazingly keeps a tone of hope, and her light shining. Drawing on her Mormon upbringing, and faith that God had not abandoned her, Elizabeth refused to be beaten or broken, refused to be a victim. Her survival, her appreciation for each day of life, her love for her family, and her dedication to those suffering from similar experiences (the Elizabeth Smart Foundation) is remarkable, and one of the most inspiring stories I've read. Listening to this book changed the way I look at my own challenges. At the end, Lois Smart tenderly, but with force, gives her daughter the most beautiful and empowering advice -- words that only a mother could offer. Through all else, that is what finally brought me to tears.






63 people found this helpful

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  • GH
  • 10-09-13

Absolutely chilling; stops a parent's heart

Smart narrates her account of abduction and rape. As a parent you are terrified at every turn, for her to deal with such evil is beyond words. She tells the story in detail, no sugar coating, no hesitations. I give this book a big thumbs up. I just cannot bring myself to write more comments because they would only detract from her telling! Must listen!

41 people found this helpful

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Well Done! Riveting and Emotional

At first I was very skeptical about Elizabeth Smart reading her own book - something just didn't sit right with me about it given the subject. However I was pleasantly surprised and glad I gave this book a chance.

Ms. Smart has achieved a good balance here with such a personal and honest description of her horrendous ordeal. It was certainly difficult to hear at some points, but was ultimately very satisfying. Her touching description of her reunion with her family, and how she decided not to waste any more of her life obsessing over her captors, was just excellent.

I must also admit I was worried, given Ms. Smart's strong Mormon beliefs, that she may emphasize her religion a bit too much for my taste. As someone much less religious than most, and not exactly a giant fan of the LDS church, I was grateful for the absence of proselytizing and mysticism (one reference to the magical appearance of a mid-night cold cup of water notwithstanding).

Certainly I highly recommend this book!

35 people found this helpful

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Thank you Elizabeth

I remember watching national news as Elizabeth was rescued... hoping her family could help her heal, but so afraid she would be forever scarred. I couldn't put this book down, as she with dignity, grace and humor, has opened her heart and the story of her 9 months captivity and the many miracles that allowed her return home. I had read the news and magazines, but much of the information presented was brand new to me... and so many of my questions were answered.

I worried about the audio, as so many writers make awful narrators... but she did fantastic and listening to her voice made me feel as if I know her. I worried that it would be too graphic or violent, but a simple "then he raped me," is as graphic as it gets. I was worried she would be forever scarred... and instead wept with joy as she described her gratitude, healing and the service she gives helping others to heal.

Thank you Elizabeth - this book moved me deeply!

26 people found this helpful

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She is one smart Elizabeth

I have to say I admire the girl more than I imagined I would. She is strong and smart. And it doesn't hurt that she plays the harp (so do I). I can't even imagine the horror of the things she went through. The physical abuse was horrific, but the mental abuse was even worse.

I also admire her family. Her parents handled the situation about as well as it could be handled. I'm proud of them for never giving up, when the rest of us were sure she was dead. It gives me courage to read their stories and see how people can be strong in the face of devastating circumstances. It makes my troubles look small by comparison.

I'm not usually a fan of authors reading their own books, and I am sure Elizabeth would be the first to say she is not a professional narrator. Still, there was something honest and convincing in the way she read. When she emphasized a word or phrase, I knew it was authentic, and not a reader's interpretation of the author's intent. I like that a lot. It reminds me of another incredibly strong girl, Jaycie Dugard, who also read her own story.

Here's to you, Elizabeth. You did what you had to do, and you survived to tell about it--and you did it with style.

22 people found this helpful

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Uplifting?

Would you listen to My Story again? Why?

Yes, it's so uplifting. Not that what she endured was pleasant, but the way she handled herself and how she ends the book is amazing.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Elizabeth!!! She is the strongest woman I have ever heard of. Forgiveness and how beautiful and empowering that can be.

What does Elizabeth Smart bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

FAITH

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It was very moving, made me laugh AND cry...

Any additional comments?

I recommend it with everything I am.

21 people found this helpful

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Oh, Elizabeth. There are so many layers unexplored

Would you try another book from Elizabeth Smart and Chris Stewart and/or Elizabeth Smart?

No. It was a sad combination of shallow writing and an horrific experience.

Would you be willing to try another book from Elizabeth Smart and Chris Stewart ? Why or why not?

No. The editing and structure were not continuous. The reader is pushed in time from future to present to past to present; always, always, landing in a puddle of Elizabeth's defenses.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

She reads well, if she were reading a bedtime story to a child. A professional might have been able to expose more of the emotions Elizabeth seemed to be trying to convey. Her voice is too childish to convey anger or fear or even the righteous indignation that she is certainly entitled to.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from My Story?

The editor should have stopped her from using the sentence, "And then he raped me." I don't need a play by play of sex. A rape is a multifaceted experience for any woman or girl. There was more to say than "He took me in the tent and raped me." At the very least, the revulsion of having to look at a dirty grown man's penis and the fear that she would lose her virginity to this monster should have been part of this horrific act on a child. The editor and co-writer failed to get Elizabeth to open up. Constantly saying that she hated or feared her captor did not convey the effects of those emotions on a fourteen-year-old girl.

Any additional comments?

I really wanted to like this story, and I think there will be plenty of stars awarded her by deeply religious people who simply want to uphold her writing as they uphold her faith. I cannot be one of those readers because I hope Elizabeth reads some of the more critical reviews and, even if not for publication, allows herself to feel and explore more deeply. This is a story that Elizabeth chose to write. If she was not ready to reveal any of herself to herself and the world, then it was not time to tell her story. I sincerely wish her well and hope that she learns introspection as a tool toward a lifetime of healing.

19 people found this helpful

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a heartbreaker, with a happy ending

A riveting story. So clear, it was like watching a film about what happened.

18 people found this helpful

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Excruciatingly Bad - wish I could give no stars...

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I was excited to read this book, and thought it would be an excellent accounting of her experience, though I was wary of Ms. Smart as narrator. Unfortunately, my instincts were correct: I got through approx. 8 minutes of this book before I tore the earphones off. Ms. Smart may indeed have a remarkable story to tell, but she has no business narrating an audiobook. The writing is immature. The narration, at points, was almost laughable it was so bad. It sounds like a 12 year old is reading to us from the front of a classroom. I was sure that even though Ms. Smart's reading skills were poor, she would at least be able to impart emotion to us that could get us through the story. Wrong again. When there is an audible emotional tone to her speech, it is always the wrong one! Laughing when she should be somber, lilting and infantile when she should be clear and level. I couldn't get into the story because I couldn't get over the irritating speech pattern and the mindless recitation of words, words, words. "She was pretty. The sun was bright. I was happy." I don't mean to show disrespect for her obviously serious, obviously terrible personal tragedy, but I just spent $15 on an audiobook and I'd like to trust the publishers to hire a professional to read it to me. Or at least, just a grown-up. This was so disappointing. If you must, go get it from the library. Don't waste your money or your time whenAudible has so many excellent alternatives. Ones that don't offend the ear...

15 people found this helpful

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Ms. Smart is not a good writer or reader.

I purchased this book because I was interested in the story behind the headlines. I wasn't interested in the sensational portions of her tale, as I assumed that she was brutalized by this nut. Instead, I was interested in her insights into her experience and how she mentally handled being snatched, kidnapped and finally rescued. I was hoping for a book written and read by an adult. Instead, this book feels like it was written and read by a 14-year old.

I have a very intelligent 15 year old daughter. The level of writing in this book is barely what I would expect if she were to write a book right now. The narrative is extremely immature and there are no real insights into her experiences. Her sentences are short and to the point and she repeats herself over and over again. After listening to nearly 2/3 of it, I simply was not able to finish listening to this book, even though I was very interested in her story. I have over 200 Audible books in my library and there are only two that I didn't finish. This is one of them.

Ms. Smart is a terrible reader. I understand why she would want to read the book herself, but she's just not good. I don't know if a better reader could have saved this book, though.

You're likely to get as much about this story from simply reading about it in the newspaper. Save your money and time for another Audible book.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Wicked
  • 02-21-15

Outstanding and moving

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys true accounts and stories of real survival.

What other book might you compare My Story to, and why?

A Stolen Life, Jaycee Lee Dugard
3096 Days, Natascha Kampusch
I Choose to Live, Sabine Dardenne
Similar powerful accounts of kidnap survival

Any additional comments?

Elizabeth wrote and read her own story, her own account of the ordeal she suffered as a kidnapped child. The way she dealt with each horrific day is remarkable, but the most incredible thing, is how she moves forward after she has been rescued. It is a story of real survival and people could learn a lot from her attitude about how to get past this and live the rest of her life. I am humbled that she chose to tell her story and I am delighted that she did.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Staffroom
  • 01-03-19

Dreadful Narration

This is a fine story but ruined by a very irritating narration. It is read in a tone something akin to really bad acting. Had it been read by someone else I probably would have enjoyed it more.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-15-22

Goosebumps

To hear Elizabeth’s own story in her own voice gave me goosebumps throughout. Amazing book.

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  • Zoë B.
  • 09-21-20

such an amazing and brave young lady

emotional and interesting read, a terrible ordeal but I'm glad Elizabeth is doing well now

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  • Mrs. Sally Wade
  • 03-07-20

Inspiring

Elizabeth is a very inspiring woman and I will live a happier life after reading this. I only gave 4 stars as I felt she repeated herself too many times and I wanted to know more about the near rescues from the rescuers point of view, but I guess it’s her story..

I’m an atheist but I actually found her beliefs beautiful and can see how they help her a lot.

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  • Georgia
  • 09-15-19

Beautiful and inspiring

Thank you Elizabeth Smart for sharing your story, it has inspired me to be more grateful as if you can see the good in situations after what you've been through, none of us should take our blessings for granted.

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  • Matthew Stevens
  • 09-15-19

heart breakingley empowering

A truly powerful testimony of pain, suffering and the true grace and love of God

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  • Sopj
  • 05-10-17

Such a positive, inspiring young lady

Would you listen to My Story again? Why?

Yes, I would listen again when I need to be reminded about how lucky I am.

What did you like best about this story?

It made me so positive. I did research Elizabeth Smart before I listened to the book as I was not sure if I would be able to cope with the horror of what she went through but really wanted to hear her story. Elizabeth does not go into graphic detail but does tell the story exactly as it happened. She discusses religion a lot and her faith, her strong faith got her through and although I am not at all religious I can't fault any of the principles that she follows in her life. She is a beautiful person. I was worried I may be left depressed after listening but I was left feeling positive, grateful for my own circumstances and moving forward I will think twice before moaning or feeling sorry for myself ever again! I am so happy that Elizabeth has such a wonderful family, husband and future ahead of her. She deserves every happiness in the world.

Have you listened to any of Elizabeth Smart’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No I haven't

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Various parts, when she described the abuse, when she was so close to being rescued on numerous occasions, when she was reunited with her her parents and of course her positive return to normal life.

Any additional comments?

What happened to Elizabeth is the stuff of nightmares, every child's worst fear, every parents worst nightmare. I don't think anything much worse could have happened to her, she went through hell. I just hope she continues to be happy and forgets the horror that those wicked creatures put her through.

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  • Phil...H
  • 01-14-15

The lady doth protest too much methinks.

Would you try another book written by Elizabeth Smart and Chris Stewart or narrated by Elizabeth Smart?

No

What didn’t you like about Elizabeth Smart’s performance?

She kept going back over and over and over again saying why she didn't escape, or why she went without a fight,and while you can understand that she would want to make the point it got to the stage where i thought she was just trying to fill the book up and got bored.

What character would you cut from My Story?

None

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  • Briana Johnston
  • 07-04-18

Could not stop listening

Both heart breaking but amazing, I can not fathom what Elizabeth went through, such a strong woman

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jan Haddock-Templeton
  • 10-05-17

Inspirational

What faith, courage and determination! Amazing for one so young to be able to philosophically handle such abuse.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Chloecattrix
  • 06-23-22

Amazing story teller!

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this honestly but I had listened to the true crime of this story and felt it was only right to hear it and the way this is written is simply beautiful!
Inspirational woman, the morals, beliefs, values and will.
Incredible family, this is an amazing book and narration! Elizabeth please just narrate for a living as well! One of the best narrators I have listened to and i really wasn’t expecting that!
Thank you for sharing your story, wisdom and beautiful energy.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-07-21

Finished in record time

I couldn’t stop listening. What Elizabeth went through is horrendous but she made it! Highly recommend.

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  • Gina
  • 07-22-21

Amazing true story.

Woooow!!!!
Truly amazing story in her own words. Her experiences. There were times I was jumping in the air cheering for her. There were times I cried. There were times I had a little giggle at her inner thoughts. But every time I wanted to rush in and whisk her away from those horrible abusers and take her straight back to safety and into the loving arms of her beautiful family. They are a truly beautiful family. Elizabeth is truly inspiring. She went through sooooo much at such a tender age. She should’ve been playing with her cousins and siblings and being a kid. Instead she was kidnapped and thrust into nine months of horrible abuse. Abuse she should never ever come to know. Yet she is stronger today than ever. May God bless you Elizabeth and your beautiful family. Thank you so much for sharing your story. One thing I learnt as well is to be thankful for the things, the people, you have in your life.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-14-20

inspiring

I cried a lot throughout this book, what a horrible thing you endured for all those years. This book gives people hope that their loved ones who are missing are as strong as this young girl and survive, in hope they will one day return to the people they love

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-28-20

Brave young lady indeed

Really enjoyed this. I remember seeing Elizabeth on a talk show and was amazed by how grown up she was for her age all the way back then.
Over the years she is still an inspiring lady with a great outlook on life.
Amazing story.

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  • janine
  • 02-25-19

powerfull

amazing strength and courage shown by such a young and fiercely determined beautiful human soul

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  • Anika
  • 05-26-16

Really interesting!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. This book gives a really interesting insight into a situation that most people (luckily for them) will never experience. Smart does a good job of the narration.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The scene where Elizabeth is reunited with her family - very moving.

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  • Tanaya
  • 04-20-16

Great book! Tells Elizabeth's story very well.

Captures your mind and imagination completely.
Very heart touching story but still the book is written with such an awesome way.

.