Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
I’m always interested in how upbringing and circumstances affect belief, and in Stolen Innocence Lisa Pulitzer has helped Elissa Wall write a fascinating account of her gradual transition from mildly rebellious believer to someone who would leave behind the only world she had ever known, even though she still worried her actions might cause her eternal damnation. Wall grew up in the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints, the polygamous sect Warren Jeffs, now jailed, led, but since her father and the first of his wives were converts and hadn’t been raised in the faith themselves, they had a harder than usual time adjusting to the dynamics of plural marriage, making trouble for the whole family.
Though it was never idyllic, life deteriorated in the community after Warren Jeffs anointed himself prophet and began a series of self-serving proclamations that eliminated most celebrations, banished potential rivals, and tore families apart. The unraveling, and the way believers struggled to maintain their faith while coping with the changes make gripping reading.
For me, the most intriguing, though heartbreaking, part of the book covers Wall’s life after being forced to marry a first cousin she despises when she is only fourteen. Still young and isolated enough to be naive, her nature and strict way of life also allowed her to be much more resilient and self-sufficient than a lot of young teenagers. She’d run to her mother for comfort, but she also found numerous jobs so she wouldn’t have to ask her “husband” for money, and many nights she slept alone in her pickup truck on isolated desert roads a to avoid spending the night with him.
For those interested in Warren Jeff’s trial, that is covered in detail because Wall was a star witness in the case.