A new book about Elizabeth Smart‘s abduction, written by one of her uncles, isn’t being well-received by Elizabeth or her parents.
“In Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation” was released Monday. The book, written by Deseret Morning News photographer Tom Smart and columnist Lee Benson, chronicles some of the alleged, previously unknown, behind-the-scenes details of Elizabeth’s kidnapping, the search for her and the police investigation.
But Ed Smart, Elizabeth’s father, said Monday he wants to make it clear Elizabeth didn’t supply any details for the book.
“We haven’t endorsed Tom’s book because she hasn’t shared her story with anyone. Not her cousins or anyone. In fact, she may never do that,” he said.
Ed Smart said Elizabeth was “disheartened” by Tom’s book. He said there’s no way anyone could see Elizabeth’s ordeal in the same light as she did.
Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City bedroom in June 2002. Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee were later arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping and other charges. Neither has come to trial yet.
The Deseret Morning News began Monday a four-part series of excerpts from the book. Today’s selection is called “A mother’s awful grief.”
Elizabeth’s mother, Lois Smart, said Monday she was a grieving mother when her daughter was missing, and now she grieves again because of the book, Elizabeth’s reaction to it and the renewed media attention created by the book.
Lois Smart said Elizabeth was in tears when she saw the book’s cover. The cover shows a picture of Elizabeth’s face covered by a veil that her alleged abductor forced her to wear.
“I am again a grieving mother. I see the effect (the book) has on Elizabeth,” Lois Smart said. “I look at it from a mother’s point of view of my daughter only being 17. Who wants to keep reliving some terrible thing that happened to you? I grieve for my daughter when I see her see the picture (on the cover).”
Lois Smart said she wishes the ordeal could finally be put behind them and Elizabeth could move on with her life and not be known simply as the girl who was kidnapped.
“Who wants to be known for that? I don’t know there’s any teenager who likes to be talked about, even in a nice way. They get embarrassed even when you say nice things about them. To have this very thing continually in your face. . . She wants to go beyond this. There is more to Elizabeth Smart than the kidnapping.”
Lois Smart said she would rather people talk about her daughter’s future than her past.
Speaking from New York while on a publicity trip for his book, Tom Smart said Monday he has always made it clear that Elizabeth, Ed and Lois were not consulted for the book. That was their choice, he said.
And, “I really had no control of the title and the cover.”
Advance copies of the book were given to all members of Tom Smart’s extended family before it was published, he said.
Ed and Lois were given the opportunity to read it and edit items they thought might be harmful to Elizabeth. But they refused, Tom Smart said.
“They would not participate at all, as much as I offered,” he said.
Ed Smart stressed he doesn’t want it to sound like there is major tension or a feud between Tom and him or any other members of his extended family. He said he appreciated everyone’s help — family, the community, law enforcement — for the effort they made in searching for Elizabeth.
“It was a collective effort,” he said. “We would attribute her return to our Heavenly Father.”
But his main message Monday was that he, Lois and Elizabeth had nothing to do with his brother’s new book, Ed Smart said.
“Tom has his story to tell,” Ed Smart said. “I didn’t anticipate what it ended up being. Anything Tom is coming up with regarding Elizabeth, it was not from her.”
Ed Smart said he and Lois said everything they wanted to say in their book, “Bringing Elizabeth Home,” which was published last year. He said that book purposely “didn’t detail every single thing.” The Smarts did not interview their daughter for their book.
Tom Smart said Elizabeth and her parents still suffer from post-traumatic stress, and they understandably want to put the ordeal behind them. He said he understands why they didn’t want to participate with his book.
“But it is an important story to tell,” Tom Smart said, noting that it was a “double-edged sword” for Ed, Lois and Elizabeth because they were still “very high-profile people.”
If the media don’t believe that he treats Elizabeth fairly in the book, Tom Smart said, then they should rightfully take him to task. He said the final third of his book is still difficult to read even for him, and it makes him cry.
“The one mission statement for Tom has been to make sure (the book) protects Elizabeth, and it will be a positive thing for her,” Benson said.