Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Book Review: A Stolen Life

I vividly remember seeing the kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard all over the news a couple years ago, and I raptly watched her recent exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer. Jaycee's memoir, A Stolen Life, was released the next day and I immediately picked up a copy, although I obviously didn't read it right away.

When we were little my mom never stopped reiterating the danger of strangers and potential kidnapping, so I grew up mildly paranoid and convinced that every single person on the street wanted to snatch me. Maybe this is why as an adult I find the prospect of speaking to a stranger for no reason to be appalling. In any case, Jaycee's story is a mother's worst nightmare, and it's probably exactly what my mom was afraid would happen to us at any moment. 

A Stolen Life is the story of Jaycee's kidnapping, in her own words. She was snatched by strangers, Phillip and Nancy Garrido, in 1991 and forced to live in a backyard for more than 18 years. The book follows Jaycee throughout the first stages of her kidnapping and captivity, then jumps to the years that follow including the birth of her two daughters. It concludes with her rescue, re-entry into society, and methods of recovery.

I found the book to be incredibly disturbing, but heartwarming at the same time. I had to admire the courage of this young woman who went through so much. Jaycee tells the story from her direct personal viewpoint, which I thought was valuable, but I personally would have liked to have at least some sort of journalistic or objective viewpoint included as well. The book is, essentially, Jaycee's journal. She was subjected to extensive physical, emotional and psychological abuse and the book is clearly the work of a person who is slowly starting to heal. Perhaps that was even her goal in telling her story.

In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and read almost the whole thing while we were waiting for our flight out of Nassau. I would definitely recommend it.

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