Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: Sophie’s Legacy: a mother’s story of a family’s loss and their quest for change.

Sophie’s Legacy: a mother’s story of a family’s loss and their quest for change.
- Lesley Elliott with William J O’Brien

We all know Lesley Elliott has been through hell: her beautiful, smart and talented daughter was viciously stabbed and mutilated in her bedroom at the hands of her former boyfriend, Clayton Weatherston. In her own words, Lesley tells of the horror of hearing Sophie’s cries as she was attacked, of breaking into the room and seeing her violated body, of fleeing for her own safety already knowing in her heart her vivacious daughter was dead.

As if this wasn’t enough, Weatherston pleaded not guilty and the Elliott family was forced to watch as day after day he attempted to trash her reputation to save his own skin using the defence of provocation. This incredibly emotional and compelling read tells of Lesley and her family’s unbearable anguish at Sophie’s brutal slaying, their suffering at the protracted and often unfeeling judicial system and their pursuit of changes to how victims and their families are treated.

Sophie and her mum were incredibly close. Their relationship transcended the usual mother and daughter bond: they were also friends and confidants. As Sophie was caught up in a swirling, unpredictable, controlling relationship with Weatherston, Lesley watched her daughter lose her ease and confidence and often consoled and counselled her about this unbalanced and unhealthy match.

With her recently honours degree behind her, Sophie was just one day away from heading to Wellington and a much coveted position at Treasury, leaving behind her tumultuous relationship with Weatherson.

I knew going in this was going to be a very difficult read and I wasn’t mistaken. Lesley’s pain transcended the pages and grabbed at my own heart. I cried for Sophie; a beautiful girl on the cusp of a brilliant future. Lesley’s diary entries to Sophie were particularly tough reading as she sort to make sense of her death and the lengthy legal process they endured to achieve justice.

And though she has suffered unspeakably, Lesley has found the courage to create a foundation in Sophie’s honour, to raise awareness among young women of the signs of controlling, unhealthy relationships and where they can go for help. It is truly a fitting legacy.

Rest in peace Sophie.

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