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Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs
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Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  25,387 ratings  ·  2,131 reviews
Stolen Innocence is the gripping New York Times bestselling memoir of Elissa Wall, the courageous former member of Utah’s infamous FLDS polygamist sect whose powerful courtroom testimony helped convict controversial sect leader Warren Jeffs in September 2007. At once shocking, heartbreaking, and inspiring, Wall’s story of subjugation and survival exposes the darkness at th ...more
Hardcover, 438 pages
Published May 13th 2008 by William Morrow
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  25,387 ratings  ·  2,131 reviews

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Start your review of Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs
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 cha
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Matt by: Mariah Roze
Shelves: audiobook, buddy-read
Biographies that detail the lives of those who have been involved in religious organisations can be particularly difficult to present, though my literary journey has brought me three in a row. While the thoughts of this review are my own, I realise that religion and politics are so deeply seeded in the psyche of us all that we can take opinions that differ from our own to heart. I fall victim to personal sentiments at times and am using this book as a foundation to discuss fundamentalism within ...more
Elyse  Walters
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I've read other books on polygamy, seen movies, and had a friend who grew up in a polygamous family in Utah. Many of the stories in this memoir are similar to others I've read:
...religious cult community...1 husband with many wives and children.
...The prophet determines when a marriage is to take place. Husband is encouraged to rape his wife.
...Sex is never talked about with girls until her wedding night- and then she is suppose to submit to her husband. covers the body -is very c
Carmaletta Hilton
Feb 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008-books
I've read everything I could get my hands on about the FLDS in the last couple of years. This is another book about a woman who left the religion after years of abuse - she was married at 14 to her first cousin. This cousin then spent years mentally and physically abusing her before she broke away.

Great insight into the FLDS group and why it's so hard for women to leave it.
Jul 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in polygamy, anyone interested in non-fiction in general
Recommended to Eva by: found at Wal-Mart
Astonishing. I think, for me, this was even more astonishing than Carolyn Jessups book Escape which was my entrance into the polygamy. I knew only the definition of the word before reading Escape and have since been gathering almost everything I can find on the subject.
This was a real quick book- mainly because you really can't put it down. The emotion is so raw it's scary. I found myself feeling so many different things at so many different points in her life story. One thing I liked a lot is
Nov 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: life-stories
I am easily obsessed with these stories of women oppressed by and then escaping from the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, an offshoot of the Mormon Church).

This is heavy shit!

The author was forced to get married to her first cousin when she was 14. (I think the husband was 19.) She was then forced to "perform her wifely" duty with him. Yikes! Bad news. Bad, bad news. The happy news it that she finally found true love and escaped from the oppressive religion.

I am for religious fr
Sep 02, 2008 added it
Shelves: 2008
I wanted to read this book after reading Carolyn Jessop's book on the same topic- living in polygamy. I think this adds more credit to Carolyn's account. I was wrapped up in this story and found myself crying when the verdict was read against Warren Jeffs. This girl has overcome a lot of challenges, and once again I've realized how blessed I am to enjoy so many freedoms.
Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to K by: Shana K.
As a religious person, I tend to approach the whole how-I-broke-out-of-my-crazy-abusive-religion memoir genre with some caution. I've read some pretty off-the-wall descriptions (mostly in fiction, though occasionally in books purporting to be non-fictional memoirs) of abuse and suffering perpetuated by people claiming to practice my religion. Generally, even when the experiences being described ring true, I think a critical reader can see that the psychological dysfunction is what's causing the ...more
Ingrid Lola
Jan 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
I greatly admire and respect Elissa Wall, but not her book... obviously written with the help of an amateur journalist. Yes, the story SEEMED interesting enough for me to pay $25, but wasn't worth it in the least. I guess it could be a good beach read... but check it out of the library, or at least wait for the paperback. This book is no work of art, and certainly wasn't life changing. The writing was laugh out loud terrible. I guess I have to give it to Elissa, though--she certainly had a tough ...more
Alissa Patrick
2.5 Stars

Eh. It was okay. I probably would have liked it more if it was shorter. This memoir did not have to be so long. The bare bones of the story was solid- a girl forced to marry at age 14 to her first cousin and the ensuing rape and abuse by her husband and her need to escape was just awful. My heart went out to her, but at times the book just dragged and was long-winded
Kathryn in FL
This story was published shortly after Caroline Jessop's escape from Warren Jeffs cult was world news. I followed the "trail" of hurt this horrible cult had perpetrated on members and this was one of the books I devoured. At this point, I have a poor recollection due to the traumatic brain injury that followed two years after publication. I do remember the impact it had on me. As a cult survivor myself, I related to so many emotions and the utter fear that permeates the entire life of those bear ...more
May 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was predisposed to enjoy the book, considering that I’m pretty fascinated by fundamentalist Mormons. I can’t remember if this fascination started with Big Love or if it started with Under the Banner of Heaven. In fact, it might be more appropriate to say I’m pretty fascinated with extremists of any kind, really. (Which brings me to a tangent: did y’all ever see that BBC show where the host basically visited extremists and tried to understand why they believed the things that they believed? He ...more
Beth Young
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this so I could find out for myself what the FLDS church believed. I thought that they would have some similar beliefs with the LDS church of which I belong. There are really none except that they belive in The Book of Mormon. But, their interpretation of The Book of Mormon is so different than that of the LDS religion. The biggest difference is that the LDS religion is very pro-family and we are to supposed to support and love our families through all trials that we go through. ...more
Elissa Wall was a teenage bride in FLDS, and played a key role in the conviction of Warren Jeffs. She testified against him and this book is her story as she saw it. It was slightly interesting because even though I have read a number of polygamy memoirs, it is not often that a woman gets to take a hand in the actual conviction of their ex-prophet.

The author left a lot of things unexplained. For example, she would stay out of her home and spend nights in her truck in the middle of the desert al
Nov 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of HBO's Big Love
Well, if you ever want learn how to twist people's religious beliefs into holding ultimate power over them Warren Jeffs is your kind've guy.

This book is unbelievably depressing. Only knowing that it turns all right in the end is what got me through this book.

I've read a few books about the women in Iran and how their lives were restricted. I think the FLDS Morman church has nothing on them. It's almost the opposite, in Iran the law is against you. In the FLDS, the law is for you but has the abi
Erik Graff
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: students of fundamentalisms
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
Having spent much of childhood and all of adolescence in a community with a large fundamentalist protestant population, but having grown up without a religious education myself, I've long been fascinated by the phenomenon. Later in life I married into a family with a Mormon faction leading me to begin reading about that schismatic sect in its various varieties. This book is the third I've read about the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter-day Saints, the first being 'Under the Banner of Heaven', ...more
Sep 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
At first I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy this book. It is the story of a young girl growing up in the polygamous FLDS faith. Married at age 14 under duress she suffered much as a very young and naive bride. She eventually left the marriage and was instrumental in getting Warren Jeffs, the then prophet, sent to prison.

I have to admit that the more I read the more I enjoyed learning about her perspectives concerning the FLDS. I was appalled at the control that Warren Jeffs asserted over the
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First and foremost, kudos to Elissa Wall for her courage to tell this most disturbing true story. This is a story about a woman who broke away from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) and testified against the "Prophet". I don't care who you are or what religion you practice, there is no way in HE** that it is right to marry off a 14-year-old girl to her first cousin. An interesting look into an entirely different lifestyle, that often made me angry listening, b ...more
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you are reading this book chances are you already have a basic idea of what polygamy is so some of the story line will be expected or predictable. The thing that makes this story interesting is the personal details; her personal story.

As you read the story you might question why she didn't just leave. I thought back to my early childhood, to time before my first heartbreak, before my friend used me and lied to protect themselves, to a time when my parents where heros. That time when you beli
Sad story with a hopeful ending.
Terrible narrator.
Too long.
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
I couldn't put this book down. Similar stories have been told before but this book is different from Escape by Carolyn Jessop in that Elissa was wed at 14 against her will and repeatedly raped as a child by her "husband" who was her first cousin. Although she continually tried to seek help, she was rebuffed at every turn. Then she had the strength at only 19 years old to begin to bring Warren Jeffs to justice. Although the writing was only fair, what I really appreciated about this book was that ...more
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book left me with a heavy sad feeling. Elyssa Wall’s story gives an incredible depiction of the FLDS life. It’s depressing to see how this radical break-off group of the mainstream LDS church I love, took plain and simple truths about salvation, and twisted them into a way to suppress women and hurt families. I’m so sickened by the accounts of abuse that happens to children in Warren Jeffs cult. The small sense of justice I felt as I read his sentencing in the book, was squashed when I did ...more
jenna Hudrlik
Feb 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009-for-me
i don't really know what i thought of this book - i listened to the whole thing and i do know that the whininess of the narrators voice irritated me and i had to keep telling myself that it is a sad story but found that i kept wanting her to shut up and stop whining! i would have liked more background into the FLDS since I know nothing, I would have liked the author to show more spine - though she was in a way - since she left her marriage eventually, did things behind the groups back etc but th ...more
Jeanette (Again)
Elissa Wall is the brave and tormented young lady responsible for putting the evil Warren Jeffs behind bars.

At the age of fourteen, Elissa was forced by Jeffs to marry her first cousin, Allen Steed. In the FLDS cult, they have what is called "placement marriage." The "prophet" assigns you a marriage partner, supposedly revealed to him by god. Ms. Wall repeatedly begged "Uncle Warren" to let her have two more years to grow up before marrying, but he refused her requests. Jeffs was convicted of "
J.H. Moncrieff
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Decently written firsthand account of growing up in the FLDS "church." Wall's story moves along pretty quickly until the Jeffs trial and a few epilogues and afterwords, when it slows to a crawl. It boggles the mind how so many people allowed the most terrible things to be done to their family and friends, all in the name of "God's will."

Even though Wall describes her terror of going to hell and being separated from the people she loves, I don't think anyone can truly grasp the power of
Laura McGee
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This book, while not a difficult read, took me awhile to get through. I think I’ve read a few too many books on fundamentalist Mormons. But anyway, the FLDS is crazy and I’m glad Warren Jeffs is behind bars.
Oct 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing

** Spoiler Alert**

I was looking forward to this book after seeing news reports and documentaries on Warren Jeffs and the FDLS Church and my what a sad story this was! This book gives a great insight into the FLDS Church. Many things that occurred in this Polygamous sect was very shocking and sad. The beliefs of the men and women who are a part of this sect seemed to be brainwashed by Warren Jeffs. Many of the things he instilled upon these people was ridiculous and as an outsider it is very had
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 f ...more
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is one of the first books I have read regarding the FLDS community, although I have seen news stories and reports regarding it. This book is a chilling recount of Elissa Wall, being brought up under the rule of the Jeffs, first being Warren Jeffs father, Rulon, and when his health began to fail him, Warren took over. Elissa is forced into marriage at 14 to a man much older than her, her wishes and pleads for reconsideration ignored. She is then raped, abused emotionally and physically, unti ...more
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Elissa Wall detailing her childhood in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and subsequent later life outside of the church. It was first published by William Morrow and Company in 2008.

Wall was born into a polygamous family in Salt Lake City and grew up attending the FLDS-run Alta Academy. She describes her living situation as tense; familial relations were furthe

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“In the end, He's the only reason that I made it. Sometimes that's the only thing we have. Whether you call it God, or hope, or faith -whatever word you use- the fact is, I couldn't have survived if I hadn't believed in something. It was the one part of me that neither Warren nor Allen could touch, and no matter what happens, as long as I have that, I've won.” 7 likes
“And then it finally did happen. I just lay there in shock. It hurt so bad, and I thought, “God, please, let me die.” As he put himself inside me, I wanted to scream for help, but there was no one to help me. I had nowhere to hide. My mother’s room, my little sister’s embrace, Uncle Fred, Uncle Warren, nothing and no one would save me, and so I lay there silently, staring at the cracks in the ceiling, watching a part of me die.” 4 likes
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