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Book: Smart Parents Stunned at Elizabeth's Calm Strength

Book: Smart Parents Stunned at Elizabeth's Calm Strength

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- In her parents' upcoming book about her kidnapping, Elizabeth Smart is shown to be a composed young woman who gave precise details of her ordeal to police the night she was found, and who told her parents she felt "triumphant" when she showed them the outdoor shanty where her abductors held her for many months.

The book, "Bringing Elizabeth Home: A Journey of Faith and Hope" by Ed and Lois Smart and published by Doubleday, was excerpted in People magazine's Nov. 3 edition, the day Elizabeth turns 16. The issue will be on sale Friday. The book is scheduled for release Tuesday.

"Every day is a blessing," the teen says in one passage included in the magazine article. "I'm doing great. I owe a lot to my family and to the great friends that I have. I want to thank them for not giving up on me."

Ed and Lois Smart announced in August they were working on a two-hour CBS television movie, "The Elizabeth Smart Story," and the Doubleday book, both told from their point of view. The movie will air Nov. 9. Meanwhile, in Elizabeth's first television interview, with NBC's Katie Couric, will air Friday at 10 p.m. EDT, and an interview with Oprah Winfrey's syndicated talk show will air Monday, the day before the book goes on sale.

Not to be outdone, CBS moved quickly to air "Elizabeth Smart: America's Girl" last Saturday, a one-hour special on the making of the movie that included an interview with Smart's parents.

Elizabeth, then 14, was abducted in the early hours of June 5, 2002, from her bedroom at knifepoint. Last March 12, she was found in a Salt Lake City suburb with her alleged kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee.

Prosecutors say Mitchell, 49, a drifter and self-styled prophet who claimed God spoke to him, and Barzee, 57, held Elizabeth against her will as Mitchell's second "wife" at a crude campsite in the dry foothills above the Smart home until Oct. 8. They then took her to California, where they stayed until March 5, according to court documents.

Mitchell and Barzee have been charged with burglary, kidnapping and sexual assault. They are both being held on $10 million bond pending psychological examinations to determine whether they are competent to stand trial.

In the first five days after the kidnapped teen returned home, the family's spokesman fielded nearly 100 film, book or made-for-TV-movie proposals. Early industry reports from unidentified sources said the Smarts could get $400,000 to $500,000 for the story.

For the book, Ed and Lois Smart collaborated with writer Laura Morton, who has similarly assisted celebrities Melissa Etheridge, Joan Lunden and Marilu Henner.

"We wanted to put the misinformation to bed," Lois Smart told People. "The only way to let the truth be known was to tell it ourselves."

Elizabeth's uncles, Tom and Dave Smart, also are working on their own version of Elizabeth's ordeal. Tom Smart said Wednesday that they have an agent but haven't shopped the book, which they expect to finish in two or three months. "We don't want to compete with Ed and Lois," he said.

Much of what People excerpted from the Smarts' book has been recounted before. What's new is the Smarts' deeply personal chronicle of their anguish and despair, and how their Mormon faith sustained them. One Sunday a few weeks after Elizabeth disappeared, Lois Smart was lying on her bed, "feeling lost and distraught.

"I had been crying and crying. I kept praying for an answer to why this could be happening. And then I heard a voice in my head, clear as anything I have ever heard, say the words, 'Be of good cheer.' It was enough to get me out of bed that morning. I dressed and went to church."

Ed Smart describes his reactions when he first saw Elizabeth at a police station in March: "There, sitting on a sofa, very quiet and subdued, was a girl with her arms folded. She looked like a homeless girl. She was taller, bigger, more mature-looking than Elizabeth. Her face was round, swollen from being outdoors in the sun. I wasn't certain at first that it was her. I went over and put my arms around her and just started bawling."

Lois Smart was similarly bewildered: "This Elizabeth didn't look anything like the little girl in the missing posters."

She tells of watching from another room as police questioned her daughter. "I listened to my daughter painstakingly detail the abuse and assault she endured. I will never forget the sinking feeling I had watching my daughter tell of her living hell."

Around midnight that night, the family piled on a bed and Elizabeth asked if she could watch a videotape of one of her favorite movies, "The Trouble With Angels."

When it was done, Lois Smart recounts, "Elizabeth got up as if nothing had ever happened, and she said she was tired and ready for bed. 'Mom, don't worry. I'm going to be safe. I'm going to be here in the morning.'

"I will never forget those words."

When Elizabeth took her parents in April to see the campsite where she'd been held, she told them she felt "triumphant," Lois remembers.

She "marched up that hill as if she were headed to battle. We arrived, and she showed us everything: 'This is the place we hid our shoes. This is where we got water. This is where I lived.' We were stunned at the calm and secure way that Elizabeth spoke."

Elizabeth also has her own say in her parents' book: "I have learned that living in the moment means taking the time to do the things that are meaningful and important. ... I feel so blessed to be back home, with my family and friends. I truly am the luckiest girl in the world!"

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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