Picks and Pans Review: A Brave Escape from Polygamy

updated 05/26/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/26/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

STOLEN INNOCENCE
by Elissa Wall with Lisa Pulitzer |

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REVIEWED BY CAROLINE LEAVITT

MEMOIR

Born into the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, author Wall, now 21, was just 14 when sect leader Warren Jeffs forced her into marriage with a cousin she despised. It proved a career-killing mistake for Jeffs: Raped and beaten by her husband, Wall fled the compound with her new love (former FLDS member Lamont Barlow, to whom she's now married); last year she was the star witness in the case that sentenced Jeffs to prison for serving as an accomplice to rape.

Coming on the heels of the raid on the FLDS compound in Eldorado, Wall's story couldn't be more timely. Her descriptions of the polygamous sect's rigidity are shocking, but what's most fascinating is the immensely likeable author's struggle to reconcile her longing for happiness with her terror of its consequences. "Will the devil be waiting for me?" she wonders. The FLDS kids now encountering forbidden treats in foster care would surely know what she means.

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