As some will remember, I read My Story by Elizabeth Smart about a month ago. I felt there was a missed opportunity to address how life had been returning from such a horrific experience, and I gave the book 3 stars.
I wasn’t aware that Smart had written anything else, so I was pleasantly surprised to find Where There’s Hope at a local thrift store. My thought was that this book might cover some of the topics I had been looking for in her first book.
After all, the subtitle of the book is “Healing, moving forward, and never giving up.”
While the book does, in fact, focus on moving forward after difficult situations, I wasn’t impressed with this book either.
In preparation for this book, Smart interviewed various people who have all experienced difficult, horrific, and/or traumatic events. These were people who had been raped, assaulted, diagnosed with cancer, accidentally shot and subsequently paralyzed, etc…
A few of the people interviewed include Bre Lasley, Mandy Patinkin, Mike Schlappi, Chris Williams, and Mariatu Kamara.
The concept of the book is a good one. The execution wasn’t so great.
I know this wasn’t how the book was written, but imagine that you were assigned as a teenager to write a report on a few people who have survived traumatic situations. You go to your parents and vent your frustration at not knowing where to start. Your mom then suggests that you call a few of her friends, and, after a few 30-minute conversations, you transcribe the interviews – peppering in a few of your thoughts – and turn in the report the following day.
That’s how the book came across to me.
Most of the people interviewed live in Utah. They almost all share the same religious beliefs. Those who have different religious beliefs at least have religious beliefs of their own. Most got through their traumatic experience without professional therapy or medication, which, while possible, can be discouraging and dangerous for any reader who might need professional help.
The concept, as I mentioned earlier, is good. It just seemed like there wasn’t enough diversity in how those interviewed are healing and moving forward. It’s pretty much faith, hope, and forgiveness. It was sort of like “pray and read your scriptures” in book form.
Having said that, if you do choose to read this book, be aware that some of the experiences involve children. If you know you can’t handle reading about such topics, you may want to read something else.