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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 that Jeffs went to in order to control the women in it. Now, in this courageous memoir, Elissa Wall tells her incredible and inspirational story of her time in the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), detailing how she emerged from its confines to help bring one of America's most notorious criminals to justice.

Topics: Utah, Domestic, Dark, Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, Cults, Coming of Age, Family, Incest, Arranged Marriage, Escaping Oppression, and Mormonism

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061752841
List price: $3.99
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one thing that you have to realise about Warrens church is that it wasn't always like that. it used to be a beautiful organization until Warren became the prophet. plural marriage is awesome if it is lived right. it's the same way with getting married young, if you feel matur enough to get married at 14, and it feels right, go ahead and get married it is all in how you look at it. I grew up in that town and had the best time there. read more
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I like it as it shows the writer's point of view and wrote it to let you sense how they felt at that timeread more
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I read this to gain balance after reading Caroline Jessop's Escape. I found this book too full of self-pity and self-glory but with a paucity of background information on the FLDS. That isn't to say it isn't a good book - it is a chilling story well told and the book presents a much more rounded picture of life with its happy times as well as sad than Escape did.

Stolen Innocence reads quite strangely, but you can't put your finger on what is strange and why it is until you reach the last few chapters which are about Warren Jeffs trial as late as February 2008 (I am writing this June 2008) when you realise that the co-writer, Lisa Pulitzer, has used all the trial material for the book.

The central mystery of why the women stay when they are treated like property (and told so) is that from birth they are told that the wicked will be destroyed soon i.e. in the next few years and that only those who are observant members of the FLDS will be saved. Further, should they die before this final apocalypse, then they can only get into heaven and eternal life at the invitation of their husband who must have at least three wives. Now this may sound ridiculous to you and me, but if you think of your own beliefs of whatever religion you are or were brought up, they probably sound equally ridiculous to a non-adherent.

This brainwashing and control by fear is exploited by one further factor, that the FLDS has a prophet with a direct line to heaven, much as the Catholics have a Pope who is equally infallible. It is the prophet who controls where someone will life, who and when they will marry, and has the power to confiscate property, remove spouses and children and have the person literally, physically thrown out of religion and the place they live in.

Hard to stand up against all that? Elissa's brothers merely questioned it and were thrown out. She was strong and won through, gaining a conviction of accessory to rape against Jeffs, but her mother - her mother with all her love let her children be used because her faith said it was the right thing.

Through reading these two books, I have come to understand that it was a good thing to remove the children from the FLDS compound in Texas. Its a shame that the centre couldn't hold - a generation raised without brainwashing, without hating people of a different colour and fearing the evilness of us, the people of the world, would have had a chance of self-determination and freedom. But maybe the prophet that has taken over from Jeffs will be a benevolent one. I hope so.

All in all a story like a fantasy, an alternative world, but chillingly true and a good read.read more
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Despite the lengthy title, Stolen Innocence provides a look into what it's like to live in a fundamentalist Mormon sect. It doesn't look pleasant, and it's surprising to me that anyone can live like this in the 21st century in the United States.read more
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Didn't quite finish this one, but it wasn't a bad book. I just lost interest.read more
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I've read a couple of books written by women who managed to escape this cult but this one was really interesting because of the story of Warren Jeffs , the creep who decided to name himself the prophet and later admitted he lied and fooled everybody.
It is sad that the people of the FLDS are still behind this horrible man. They just do not know any better.

The mother of Elissa, how selfish she is. My God. she lost nearly all of her kids but did not care as long as she was still in the good books of the FLDS so she would go to heaven. me me me.

I am going to check on how the FLDS is doing now and if Jeffs appealed, probably.read more
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Loved! Told alot about the culture of the polygamous sect. Very shocking what those people go through. Women in particular go through total brain washing and must be totally submissive. This book goes through the life of Elissa Wall. Begins with her childhood until her young adult life. It was very tulmultous. Written very well. Easy to read and understand.read more
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This title was selected by one of my bookgroups. I probably never would have read it otherwise. My other bookgroup read The Secret Lives of Saints and I felt I had read enough about the FLDS - what I had read had made me very angry and upset. However, Wall's powerful personal story adds the depth of emotion and experience to the reporting and facts of Bramham's book to give a fuller picture of this sect. Secret Lives deals in large part with the community in Bountiful, BC, while Walls' account tells of her life in the US FLDS community controlled by Warren Jeffs. The writing is a bit over-wrought and weak, but Elissa Wall's heartbreak, suffering and amazing strength of spirit is undeniable. It's a miracle that she survived both in body and soul to share her experiences.read more
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Amazing and disturbing first-hand account by the woman who brought Warren Jeffs to trial.Elissa was born into a FLDS family in Hildale-Colorado City, AZ.The 11th of 14 children by her mother. Married at 14 to her first cousin. A must read.read more
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The disturbing memoir of a young woman raised in a fundamentalist sect of the Mormon church that continues to promote and follow polygamous teachings. While I don't have a problem with the idea of polygamy when practiced by consenting adults, I do have an issue with the idea of teenaged girls married to 83 year-old men, and with the idea of teenaged boys being removed from their homes so that they aren't in competition with their elders.I found it very interesting how the author's family was so divided over the issue of her coming forward.read more
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Fascinating incite into life in the FDLS. Epilogue includes a few notes about the concerns of child abuse and underage marriages in Eldorado, Texas. This book was published before it was discovered that a mentally ill woman in Colorado had initiated the call that started it all.read more
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Elissa Wall’s heartbreaking memoir chronicles her life in- and eventual abandonment of- the FLDS church, a polygamist sect of Mormons living in Utah under Warren Jeffs. Elissa’s entire life she has been taught that the only way to get into Heaven is to obey Warren Jeffs (and any other man) without question, get rid of anything the Lord does not approve of (including classical music, friends, and books), and most of all, by “keeping sweet”. As Elissa grows older her family is torn apart by a series of shocking events, including a number of brothers and sisters abandoning their faith.Elissa Wall’s story will not only shock readers, but keep them in awe throughout the entire book. As frustrating as it can be, the reader feels deep compassion for a young woman caught up in a life of systematic bullying and brainwashing. The book also mentions another prominent family in the FLDS, the Jessops- Carolyn later went on to write her own memoir.read more
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Elissa Wall was born into an FLDS family who practice polygamy. The book provides an outline of her tumultuous childhood, teenage marriage and how she lost her family members one-by-one to the outside world. She struggled to follow the prophet Warren Jeffs while remaining true to herself and her values. After suffering from several miscarriages and a still birth, she found the courage to break away from the FLDS and eventually testify against Warren Jeffs. One thing that is hard to understand is the stark differences between the FLDS world and the outside world. From birth FLDS children are taught to fear outsiders and their way of life. Breaking away is not only an act of courage, but an act that FLDS members believe will send them to hell. This book did a wonderful job of presenting those differences and the challenges faced by former-FLDS members. The book was well written and presented a clear time line of Elissa's life. Although I thought the beginning moved slowly, the pace picked up after her marriage. Overall, this is a wonderful book, one I highly recommend.read more
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Interesting look into FDLS (Morman)cult. Chillingread more
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Wow it really makes you think about the brainwashing that goes on in the name of religion. This poor girl being married off to a first cousin at the age of 14 is just astonishing in today's society. And all of the other things going on with the community families being torn apart and put with new husbands and your just suppose to accept this is your new husband or father with no questions asked. It is just crazy. There was no way to defend yourself you just get pushed into all of this because it is believed to be the only way to go to heaven. The people running it seem to be egotistical and more than a little crazy! I'm glad she is able to live a full free life with her beautiful children and a wonderful husband she as able to fall in love with and chose for herself! It was an eye-opening book to think people still live like that in modern day America!read more
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Stolen Innocence - by Elissa Wall with Lisa PulitzerEllissa Wall was brought up in the bosom of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints and at fourteen was forced to marry her older first cousin, and repeatedly raped throughout her 3 year marriage. This is Elissa's story. But it's also a glimpse into the workings of a way of life that many of us would find chilling, yet was perfectly normal for Elissa and her many siblings. We learn how plural marriages work (and at times may even work well for the people who have learned nothing else but this way of life) and how they shouldn't work, we learn how on the whim of one man, a Sister Mother and her children can be taken away; with no explanation, from her husband and given to another man deemed more worthy. We learn how one man used his so-called, influence with God, to force families to shun their own children, sell their business and properties, to live in fear. And, this is also the story of the rise and fall of that very influential, very manipulative man; a man named Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed Prophet of the FLDS. This is a heart breaking story of Elissa's struggle to be the perfect daughter, student, person. We see her struggles even at a very young age to "stay sweet", a common phrase used when you are shattering inside, but can't let it show - and what happens when someone finally breaks her spirit. This is also an example to all women that they can overcome, be brave and even learn to grow from the horrors they may have been forced to endure. One thing that disturbed me is that in this book, we never learn whether or not any of the women actually loved/love their husbands or if their husbands loved/love them and this lack begs the question - when one is never shown a loving relationship between man and wife, when spousal relationships are more like business deals, then how did Elissa know that she would never come to love her husband? I would have like to have seen this addressed.It's remarkable and repulsive to learn that practices such as this go on in our progressive country. These are things we think/pray only happen in third world countries.This is an excellent, timely, eye opening read and should be a 'must' read for anyone interested in issues involving women in our country during this century.read more
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Good story, but not as well told as Carolyn Jessop's Escape.read more
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Good book, just not an awesome book. Much of the book was a bit slow for me and a bit redundant. I've read many books on this topic and I can say for me, this book would not be my favorite. Still, if this is a topic you were interested in it is very informative on how the church is run, rules..beliefs ect. Just dry reading for me.read more
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Everytime I give a memoir about a heartwrenching topic less than four stars, I tend to feel a tremendous amount of guilt. I always feel like the author will read my less than stellar review and think "Well I'm sorry that what I went through wasn't GOOD enough for you! What, did you want me to go through more so that you could me entertained?" While this wasn't my issue with Stolen Innocence, I do have to give it three stars (and that's being semi-generous). My main issue with Stolen Innocence was that it lagged big time. A big chunk of this book was very repetitive. In fact, the first 100 pages were good and the last 100 pages were great. However, the middle was just a repeat of what she had mentioned in the first 100 pages repeated throughout about 200 more. This book would've been way better if it had been a bit on the shorter side sans any repeating. Stolen Innocence was also terribly written. I do understand that Elissa Wall isn't a writer and hence this book wasn't going to be some literary masterpiece, but I did expect it to be semi well-written. Shouldn't her ghostwriter have made it a bit more readable? And the editor really should have done a better job. There were glaring typos all over Stolen Innocence. I had to resist the urge to take out a red pen and correct them all. This was a FINAL copy, not an Advanced Reader's Copy and therefore should have read like one. Again I state that I did find Elisa Wall's story incredibly heartwrenching and the way that the FLDS treats its women really pisses me off. I am incredibly happy that Wall managed to escape and survive that ideal and I think it's great that she's sharing her story. I just wish it would've been better written.read more
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Forced marriages and the rape of underage girls are happening today, here in America---and I'm not talking about the Muslims (though they're doing it, too)...I'm talking about the fundie Mormons.I just reread Stolen Innocence for the first time since it came out a few years ago, and unfortunately found it to be just as relevant now as it was then. But this is a remarkable book in many ways, and even more so on repeat readings. It contains many valuable lessons about what matters most in life. I still highly recommend it.read more
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Working as a copy desk editor at our local paper, many articles came across my desk when this case hit the papers. I admit, that I have always been curious about the FLDS lifestyle, and I wanted to know the outcome of the trial. As with many people, I was happy to see Warren Jeffs punished. It's one thing to desire to follow your own religion in freedom, but it crosses a line when it forces little girls into situations of marital rape, abuse, etc. I was drawn to this book after looking up Under a White Flag, which was mentioned on Dr. Phil. I remembered Elissa from the various AP articles in the paper, and I was very curious about actually reading her memoir.While the story was exceptionally hard to read, it was an interesting look into the FLDS community. It is also interesting to compare these women to "modern" polygamists like the Browns or the authors of Love Times Three. Elissa Wall is very well spoken, a good writer, and really thinks deeply about the religion she was raised in. Even though she was mentally, emotionally, and physically abused by the system, she is still able to see the religion itself as something other than the people. She is also able to have a large amount of grace and mercy for the people still in the religion. I was also surprised at how she was able to star to feel a stirring of compassion for Allen during the court case.I felt the book was well paced. It never felt as though it was dragging. In fact, I read this dense book in a manner of days. It was very, very engaging. I really enjoyed the pictures that her included in the book. In a lot of ways, it made the book more real and accessible. And, at some level, I felt sorry for Allen and the position he was put in by Warren Jeffs.I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a deeper looking into FLDS.read more
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Halfway through the book but I found many careless mistakes with the English. Rushing the book for print? A pity... But it is indeed a sad story. Sick at the same time. Maybe I will never understand how and why such things happen. Almost done with the book - they even got the dates wrong... :(read more
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Excellent! This book was very informative and gave lots of details behind the FLDS. I've seen so much in the news and this book was truthful in all of its details. The lifestyles these people lead without knowing the truth is amazing.read more
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Having dated someone who left the Mormon church and hearing his story of being thrown out by his family for turning on the church, I thought I knew the inner workings of Mormonism. Reading this book gave me more insight into the FLDS branch of the Mormon Church and the brainwashing still going on. Reading Elissa's abuse was difficult, but knowing that even police forces are protecting these polygamous men makes me shudder. What will it take to stop this horrible blight on our children and our women? Hopefully, someone reading this book will get just as angry as I am that this still goes on and law enforcement members who belong to the FLDS branch help to hide the incest and sexual abuse. Sending children off to work as they did in the concentration camps during WW2 just to teach them that they have to follow the FLDS teachings is a cruel and inhuman punishment for just being children. And yet, it still goes on and only Jeffs is behind bars. This book should be in every home, library and school until the FLDS is shut down and the pedophile men behind bars.read more
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Freakishly fascinating. Didn't really give this a deep read--more of a manic skimming but the information it gave was, for lack of a better word, FREAKY. I cannot believe people can distort religion to such a degree. The author is truly a brave woman.read more
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Big change in subject for me - this one was a case of thrift shop serendipity found when I had reason to wish to understand an inflexible religious mindset a little better. I remember this book from the days it was $30 or so brand new at Borders.I can hardly believe that the FLDS members are an American people practicing an American religion. Goodness gracious, have they no care for freedom??? Have they not heard of the American taste for freedom? No, not so much. They have taken to their slavery like ducks to water and reason will not change minds there. They can actually "keep sweet" when such outrageous demands are made on them by their powers that be? Remove a man from his family, assign his woman and children to another man, exile the boys, and everyone cooperates? All I can say is.... wow. I had no idea. How horrible and frightening cult behavior is when you shine a light under the rock that people like David Koresh and Jim Jones live under. I had sort of a panic attack at the mere sight of Warren Jeffs in the picture section. My Spider Sense literally screamed "CREEEEEP!" and I was literally frightened for just a moment, sitting safely in my home with a hardback in my hands. World of yuck. So glad he's in jail, so sorry the faithful are apparently waiting around for him to come back and take up the reins of power again. It is probably quite relevant to say here that I'm not necessarily put off by tall, skinny and weird. I think Joey Ramone is one of the more adorable human beings to have graced the planet for awhile, and I do freely admit that seeing "Rock and Roll High School" at an impressionable age may have had something to do with this affectionate feeling for the Ramones.High praise to author and escapee, free woman Elissa Walls, who somehow managed to maintain a most laudable sense of grace, forgiveness, love and hope concerning her True Believer mother and sisters, escaped siblings and and even her sad sack cousin-ex-husband. I tip my hat to her.As for the FLDS, they are throwing away their children in the name of their religion, and I fear it is always a mistake to turn out your family. No matter why, even if it's in the name of religion. Especially when it is over religion. I can say that with some authority at the moment. Thanks Elissa, reading your story brought me comfort after my fight with a fundamentalist.read more
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I've been reading several FLDS related books lately in an attempt to learn more about a subject that has been major national news recently. I find the similarities in stories shocking. Whether the person had a happy childhood or not, the details they give about the practices, beliefs, and happenings within the church are consistent. The names mentioned of major or well-known figures within the church all match, as do descriptions. So, as unbelievable as it all sounds to those of us who didn't grow up in their world, it's definitely the truth. Even better, the more you read, the more perspectives you gather, and the better you understand all that happens. This book is definitely deserving of being added to the must-read list of anyone interested in the subject.read more
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The subtitle basically tells the story. Elissa Wall is born into a family that belongs to the polygamous sect led by Warren Jeffs. At a very young age, she is married against her will to an older man, suffers abuse, and eventually escapes entirely. This is really an incredible story. Despite the sensational news stories we've all seen in the past few years, it's difficult to believe that situations like this one exist in modern times. Elissa's experience in life was so different from mine that it's difficult to take in. This book helped me to understand for the first time how powerful a force religious indoctrination can be, that it would cause a mother to allow her daughter to be treated the way Elissa was treated. That she would in fact tell her that it was only right to be treated that way. This story inspires anger, sympathy and admiration in equal parts. I have to say that I didn't particularly enjoy the author's narration. It's difficult to explain why, though. I kept getting annoyed with her for trying to justify decisions people were making. I suppose it's hard to overcome the lifetime of thought patterns. And again, her experience is so different from mine that it's not surprising that she would see things differently. My final word: I give this book 4 out of 5. The writing in this book isn't spectacular, and the author's voice can be annoying from time to time. However, I think the story makes this a worthwhile read.read more
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Great book to understand not only the insides of FLDS but also the brainwashing mechanisms of many other sects. Very well written. read more
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was informativeread more
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one thing that you have to realise about Warrens church is that it wasn't always like that. it used to be a beautiful organization until Warren became the prophet. plural marriage is awesome if it is lived right. it's the same way with getting married young, if you feel matur enough to get married at 14, and it feels right, go ahead and get married it is all in how you look at it. I grew up in that town and had the best time there.
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I like it as it shows the writer's point of view and wrote it to let you sense how they felt at that time
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I read this to gain balance after reading Caroline Jessop's Escape. I found this book too full of self-pity and self-glory but with a paucity of background information on the FLDS. That isn't to say it isn't a good book - it is a chilling story well told and the book presents a much more rounded picture of life with its happy times as well as sad than Escape did.

Stolen Innocence reads quite strangely, but you can't put your finger on what is strange and why it is until you reach the last few chapters which are about Warren Jeffs trial as late as February 2008 (I am writing this June 2008) when you realise that the co-writer, Lisa Pulitzer, has used all the trial material for the book.

The central mystery of why the women stay when they are treated like property (and told so) is that from birth they are told that the wicked will be destroyed soon i.e. in the next few years and that only those who are observant members of the FLDS will be saved. Further, should they die before this final apocalypse, then they can only get into heaven and eternal life at the invitation of their husband who must have at least three wives. Now this may sound ridiculous to you and me, but if you think of your own beliefs of whatever religion you are or were brought up, they probably sound equally ridiculous to a non-adherent.

This brainwashing and control by fear is exploited by one further factor, that the FLDS has a prophet with a direct line to heaven, much as the Catholics have a Pope who is equally infallible. It is the prophet who controls where someone will life, who and when they will marry, and has the power to confiscate property, remove spouses and children and have the person literally, physically thrown out of religion and the place they live in.

Hard to stand up against all that? Elissa's brothers merely questioned it and were thrown out. She was strong and won through, gaining a conviction of accessory to rape against Jeffs, but her mother - her mother with all her love let her children be used because her faith said it was the right thing.

Through reading these two books, I have come to understand that it was a good thing to remove the children from the FLDS compound in Texas. Its a shame that the centre couldn't hold - a generation raised without brainwashing, without hating people of a different colour and fearing the evilness of us, the people of the world, would have had a chance of self-determination and freedom. But maybe the prophet that has taken over from Jeffs will be a benevolent one. I hope so.

All in all a story like a fantasy, an alternative world, but chillingly true and a good read.
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Despite the lengthy title, Stolen Innocence provides a look into what it's like to live in a fundamentalist Mormon sect. It doesn't look pleasant, and it's surprising to me that anyone can live like this in the 21st century in the United States.
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Didn't quite finish this one, but it wasn't a bad book. I just lost interest.
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I've read a couple of books written by women who managed to escape this cult but this one was really interesting because of the story of Warren Jeffs , the creep who decided to name himself the prophet and later admitted he lied and fooled everybody.
It is sad that the people of the FLDS are still behind this horrible man. They just do not know any better.

The mother of Elissa, how selfish she is. My God. she lost nearly all of her kids but did not care as long as she was still in the good books of the FLDS so she would go to heaven. me me me.

I am going to check on how the FLDS is doing now and if Jeffs appealed, probably.
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Loved! Told alot about the culture of the polygamous sect. Very shocking what those people go through. Women in particular go through total brain washing and must be totally submissive. This book goes through the life of Elissa Wall. Begins with her childhood until her young adult life. It was very tulmultous. Written very well. Easy to read and understand.
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This title was selected by one of my bookgroups. I probably never would have read it otherwise. My other bookgroup read The Secret Lives of Saints and I felt I had read enough about the FLDS - what I had read had made me very angry and upset. However, Wall's powerful personal story adds the depth of emotion and experience to the reporting and facts of Bramham's book to give a fuller picture of this sect. Secret Lives deals in large part with the community in Bountiful, BC, while Walls' account tells of her life in the US FLDS community controlled by Warren Jeffs. The writing is a bit over-wrought and weak, but Elissa Wall's heartbreak, suffering and amazing strength of spirit is undeniable. It's a miracle that she survived both in body and soul to share her experiences.
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Amazing and disturbing first-hand account by the woman who brought Warren Jeffs to trial.Elissa was born into a FLDS family in Hildale-Colorado City, AZ.The 11th of 14 children by her mother. Married at 14 to her first cousin. A must read.
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The disturbing memoir of a young woman raised in a fundamentalist sect of the Mormon church that continues to promote and follow polygamous teachings. While I don't have a problem with the idea of polygamy when practiced by consenting adults, I do have an issue with the idea of teenaged girls married to 83 year-old men, and with the idea of teenaged boys being removed from their homes so that they aren't in competition with their elders.I found it very interesting how the author's family was so divided over the issue of her coming forward.
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Fascinating incite into life in the FDLS. Epilogue includes a few notes about the concerns of child abuse and underage marriages in Eldorado, Texas. This book was published before it was discovered that a mentally ill woman in Colorado had initiated the call that started it all.
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Elissa Wall’s heartbreaking memoir chronicles her life in- and eventual abandonment of- the FLDS church, a polygamist sect of Mormons living in Utah under Warren Jeffs. Elissa’s entire life she has been taught that the only way to get into Heaven is to obey Warren Jeffs (and any other man) without question, get rid of anything the Lord does not approve of (including classical music, friends, and books), and most of all, by “keeping sweet”. As Elissa grows older her family is torn apart by a series of shocking events, including a number of brothers and sisters abandoning their faith.Elissa Wall’s story will not only shock readers, but keep them in awe throughout the entire book. As frustrating as it can be, the reader feels deep compassion for a young woman caught up in a life of systematic bullying and brainwashing. The book also mentions another prominent family in the FLDS, the Jessops- Carolyn later went on to write her own memoir.
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Elissa Wall was born into an FLDS family who practice polygamy. The book provides an outline of her tumultuous childhood, teenage marriage and how she lost her family members one-by-one to the outside world. She struggled to follow the prophet Warren Jeffs while remaining true to herself and her values. After suffering from several miscarriages and a still birth, she found the courage to break away from the FLDS and eventually testify against Warren Jeffs. One thing that is hard to understand is the stark differences between the FLDS world and the outside world. From birth FLDS children are taught to fear outsiders and their way of life. Breaking away is not only an act of courage, but an act that FLDS members believe will send them to hell. This book did a wonderful job of presenting those differences and the challenges faced by former-FLDS members. The book was well written and presented a clear time line of Elissa's life. Although I thought the beginning moved slowly, the pace picked up after her marriage. Overall, this is a wonderful book, one I highly recommend.
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Interesting look into FDLS (Morman)cult. Chilling
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Wow it really makes you think about the brainwashing that goes on in the name of religion. This poor girl being married off to a first cousin at the age of 14 is just astonishing in today's society. And all of the other things going on with the community families being torn apart and put with new husbands and your just suppose to accept this is your new husband or father with no questions asked. It is just crazy. There was no way to defend yourself you just get pushed into all of this because it is believed to be the only way to go to heaven. The people running it seem to be egotistical and more than a little crazy! I'm glad she is able to live a full free life with her beautiful children and a wonderful husband she as able to fall in love with and chose for herself! It was an eye-opening book to think people still live like that in modern day America!
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Stolen Innocence - by Elissa Wall with Lisa PulitzerEllissa Wall was brought up in the bosom of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints and at fourteen was forced to marry her older first cousin, and repeatedly raped throughout her 3 year marriage. This is Elissa's story. But it's also a glimpse into the workings of a way of life that many of us would find chilling, yet was perfectly normal for Elissa and her many siblings. We learn how plural marriages work (and at times may even work well for the people who have learned nothing else but this way of life) and how they shouldn't work, we learn how on the whim of one man, a Sister Mother and her children can be taken away; with no explanation, from her husband and given to another man deemed more worthy. We learn how one man used his so-called, influence with God, to force families to shun their own children, sell their business and properties, to live in fear. And, this is also the story of the rise and fall of that very influential, very manipulative man; a man named Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed Prophet of the FLDS. This is a heart breaking story of Elissa's struggle to be the perfect daughter, student, person. We see her struggles even at a very young age to "stay sweet", a common phrase used when you are shattering inside, but can't let it show - and what happens when someone finally breaks her spirit. This is also an example to all women that they can overcome, be brave and even learn to grow from the horrors they may have been forced to endure. One thing that disturbed me is that in this book, we never learn whether or not any of the women actually loved/love their husbands or if their husbands loved/love them and this lack begs the question - when one is never shown a loving relationship between man and wife, when spousal relationships are more like business deals, then how did Elissa know that she would never come to love her husband? I would have like to have seen this addressed.It's remarkable and repulsive to learn that practices such as this go on in our progressive country. These are things we think/pray only happen in third world countries.This is an excellent, timely, eye opening read and should be a 'must' read for anyone interested in issues involving women in our country during this century.
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Good story, but not as well told as Carolyn Jessop's Escape.
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Good book, just not an awesome book. Much of the book was a bit slow for me and a bit redundant. I've read many books on this topic and I can say for me, this book would not be my favorite. Still, if this is a topic you were interested in it is very informative on how the church is run, rules..beliefs ect. Just dry reading for me.
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Everytime I give a memoir about a heartwrenching topic less than four stars, I tend to feel a tremendous amount of guilt. I always feel like the author will read my less than stellar review and think "Well I'm sorry that what I went through wasn't GOOD enough for you! What, did you want me to go through more so that you could me entertained?" While this wasn't my issue with Stolen Innocence, I do have to give it three stars (and that's being semi-generous). My main issue with Stolen Innocence was that it lagged big time. A big chunk of this book was very repetitive. In fact, the first 100 pages were good and the last 100 pages were great. However, the middle was just a repeat of what she had mentioned in the first 100 pages repeated throughout about 200 more. This book would've been way better if it had been a bit on the shorter side sans any repeating. Stolen Innocence was also terribly written. I do understand that Elissa Wall isn't a writer and hence this book wasn't going to be some literary masterpiece, but I did expect it to be semi well-written. Shouldn't her ghostwriter have made it a bit more readable? And the editor really should have done a better job. There were glaring typos all over Stolen Innocence. I had to resist the urge to take out a red pen and correct them all. This was a FINAL copy, not an Advanced Reader's Copy and therefore should have read like one. Again I state that I did find Elisa Wall's story incredibly heartwrenching and the way that the FLDS treats its women really pisses me off. I am incredibly happy that Wall managed to escape and survive that ideal and I think it's great that she's sharing her story. I just wish it would've been better written.
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Forced marriages and the rape of underage girls are happening today, here in America---and I'm not talking about the Muslims (though they're doing it, too)...I'm talking about the fundie Mormons.I just reread Stolen Innocence for the first time since it came out a few years ago, and unfortunately found it to be just as relevant now as it was then. But this is a remarkable book in many ways, and even more so on repeat readings. It contains many valuable lessons about what matters most in life. I still highly recommend it.
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Working as a copy desk editor at our local paper, many articles came across my desk when this case hit the papers. I admit, that I have always been curious about the FLDS lifestyle, and I wanted to know the outcome of the trial. As with many people, I was happy to see Warren Jeffs punished. It's one thing to desire to follow your own religion in freedom, but it crosses a line when it forces little girls into situations of marital rape, abuse, etc. I was drawn to this book after looking up Under a White Flag, which was mentioned on Dr. Phil. I remembered Elissa from the various AP articles in the paper, and I was very curious about actually reading her memoir.While the story was exceptionally hard to read, it was an interesting look into the FLDS community. It is also interesting to compare these women to "modern" polygamists like the Browns or the authors of Love Times Three. Elissa Wall is very well spoken, a good writer, and really thinks deeply about the religion she was raised in. Even though she was mentally, emotionally, and physically abused by the system, she is still able to see the religion itself as something other than the people. She is also able to have a large amount of grace and mercy for the people still in the religion. I was also surprised at how she was able to star to feel a stirring of compassion for Allen during the court case.I felt the book was well paced. It never felt as though it was dragging. In fact, I read this dense book in a manner of days. It was very, very engaging. I really enjoyed the pictures that her included in the book. In a lot of ways, it made the book more real and accessible. And, at some level, I felt sorry for Allen and the position he was put in by Warren Jeffs.I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a deeper looking into FLDS.
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Halfway through the book but I found many careless mistakes with the English. Rushing the book for print? A pity... But it is indeed a sad story. Sick at the same time. Maybe I will never understand how and why such things happen. Almost done with the book - they even got the dates wrong... :(
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Excellent! This book was very informative and gave lots of details behind the FLDS. I've seen so much in the news and this book was truthful in all of its details. The lifestyles these people lead without knowing the truth is amazing.
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Having dated someone who left the Mormon church and hearing his story of being thrown out by his family for turning on the church, I thought I knew the inner workings of Mormonism. Reading this book gave me more insight into the FLDS branch of the Mormon Church and the brainwashing still going on. Reading Elissa's abuse was difficult, but knowing that even police forces are protecting these polygamous men makes me shudder. What will it take to stop this horrible blight on our children and our women? Hopefully, someone reading this book will get just as angry as I am that this still goes on and law enforcement members who belong to the FLDS branch help to hide the incest and sexual abuse. Sending children off to work as they did in the concentration camps during WW2 just to teach them that they have to follow the FLDS teachings is a cruel and inhuman punishment for just being children. And yet, it still goes on and only Jeffs is behind bars. This book should be in every home, library and school until the FLDS is shut down and the pedophile men behind bars.
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Freakishly fascinating. Didn't really give this a deep read--more of a manic skimming but the information it gave was, for lack of a better word, FREAKY. I cannot believe people can distort religion to such a degree. The author is truly a brave woman.
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Big change in subject for me - this one was a case of thrift shop serendipity found when I had reason to wish to understand an inflexible religious mindset a little better. I remember this book from the days it was $30 or so brand new at Borders.I can hardly believe that the FLDS members are an American people practicing an American religion. Goodness gracious, have they no care for freedom??? Have they not heard of the American taste for freedom? No, not so much. They have taken to their slavery like ducks to water and reason will not change minds there. They can actually "keep sweet" when such outrageous demands are made on them by their powers that be? Remove a man from his family, assign his woman and children to another man, exile the boys, and everyone cooperates? All I can say is.... wow. I had no idea. How horrible and frightening cult behavior is when you shine a light under the rock that people like David Koresh and Jim Jones live under. I had sort of a panic attack at the mere sight of Warren Jeffs in the picture section. My Spider Sense literally screamed "CREEEEEP!" and I was literally frightened for just a moment, sitting safely in my home with a hardback in my hands. World of yuck. So glad he's in jail, so sorry the faithful are apparently waiting around for him to come back and take up the reins of power again. It is probably quite relevant to say here that I'm not necessarily put off by tall, skinny and weird. I think Joey Ramone is one of the more adorable human beings to have graced the planet for awhile, and I do freely admit that seeing "Rock and Roll High School" at an impressionable age may have had something to do with this affectionate feeling for the Ramones.High praise to author and escapee, free woman Elissa Walls, who somehow managed to maintain a most laudable sense of grace, forgiveness, love and hope concerning her True Believer mother and sisters, escaped siblings and and even her sad sack cousin-ex-husband. I tip my hat to her.As for the FLDS, they are throwing away their children in the name of their religion, and I fear it is always a mistake to turn out your family. No matter why, even if it's in the name of religion. Especially when it is over religion. I can say that with some authority at the moment. Thanks Elissa, reading your story brought me comfort after my fight with a fundamentalist.
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I've been reading several FLDS related books lately in an attempt to learn more about a subject that has been major national news recently. I find the similarities in stories shocking. Whether the person had a happy childhood or not, the details they give about the practices, beliefs, and happenings within the church are consistent. The names mentioned of major or well-known figures within the church all match, as do descriptions. So, as unbelievable as it all sounds to those of us who didn't grow up in their world, it's definitely the truth. Even better, the more you read, the more perspectives you gather, and the better you understand all that happens. This book is definitely deserving of being added to the must-read list of anyone interested in the subject.
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The subtitle basically tells the story. Elissa Wall is born into a family that belongs to the polygamous sect led by Warren Jeffs. At a very young age, she is married against her will to an older man, suffers abuse, and eventually escapes entirely. This is really an incredible story. Despite the sensational news stories we've all seen in the past few years, it's difficult to believe that situations like this one exist in modern times. Elissa's experience in life was so different from mine that it's difficult to take in. This book helped me to understand for the first time how powerful a force religious indoctrination can be, that it would cause a mother to allow her daughter to be treated the way Elissa was treated. That she would in fact tell her that it was only right to be treated that way. This story inspires anger, sympathy and admiration in equal parts. I have to say that I didn't particularly enjoy the author's narration. It's difficult to explain why, though. I kept getting annoyed with her for trying to justify decisions people were making. I suppose it's hard to overcome the lifetime of thought patterns. And again, her experience is so different from mine that it's not surprising that she would see things differently. My final word: I give this book 4 out of 5. The writing in this book isn't spectacular, and the author's voice can be annoying from time to time. However, I think the story makes this a worthwhile read.
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Great book to understand not only the insides of FLDS but also the brainwashing mechanisms of many other sects. Very well written.
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was informative
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