Scribner|September 10, 2013|Advanced Reader’s Edition||ISBN: 978-1-4516-4560-6
The spectacularly dramatic memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her from rural Canada to imperiled and dangerous countries on every continent and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity in Somalia – a story of courage, resilience, and extraordinary grace.
At the age of eighteen, Amanda Lindhout moved from her hardscrabble Alberta hometown to the big city – Calgary – and worked as a cocktail waitress, saving her tips so she could travel the globe. As a child, she escaped a violent household by paging through National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. Now she would see those places for real. She backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each experience, went on to travel solo across Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a TV reporter. And then in August 2008, she traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia – “the most dangerous place on earth” – to report on the fighting there. On her fourth day in the country, she and her photojournalist companion were abducted.
An astoundingly intimate and harrowing account of Lindhout’s fifteen months as a captive, A House in the Sky illuminates the psychology, motivations, and desperate extremism of her young guards and the men in charge of them. She is kept in chains nearly starved, and subjected to unthinkable abuse. She survives by imaging herself in a “house in the sky,” looking down at the woman shackled below, and finding strength and hope in the power of her own mind. Lindhourt’s decision, upon her release, to counter the violence he endured by founding an organization to help the Somali people rebuild their country through education is a wrenching testament to the capacity of the human spirit and an astonishing portrait of the power of compassion and forgiveness.
If you read the above ‘Story Description’ you’ll have an exact idea of what this wonderful memoir is about. I only want to add that Amanda Lindhout has to be one of the most courageous women I’ve read about in a long time. The unspeakable abuse she endured day after day for fifteen long months is truly harrowing. To be trussed up like an animal and suspended from a ceiling for forty-eight hours at a time is totally unfathomable to me but she somehow survived by escaping to her “house in the sky” where she watched the woman below her being tortured.
One of the guards was particularly gruelling in his abuse and punishment and raped her on an almost daily basis and how she ever endured that I’ll never know, regardless of her ‘house in the sky.’ She had to separate her physical self from her emotional self in order to deal with the horrifying things that were happening to her and they were brutish and inhumane in every way conceivable. I cried while reading several passages in this book and my heart went out to this young woman who showed such strength and resilience in the face of such brutality.
Although she suffered unbearable abuse and torture, she still had the passion and compassion at the end of this horrendous journey to set up educational help to aid Somalia in reordering their country. It takes a very, very special person to be able to do that.
This book affected me on so many levels, emotionally and spiritually mostly. I honestly and sincerely don’t believe I could ever have survived what this young woman did. I would have died in captivity long before the fifteen months was up. Amanda, you are a true testament to what the human body can withstand and a true testament for other woman to show strength and courage in the face of such horrible adversity. I am so very sorry for what happened to you and thank you for having the courage to share your most intimate story with us. I don’t think I’ll ever forget you and your story.
Thank you to GoodReads for sending me a copy of this book which I won in their contest. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this book for the world and will be keeping it as part of my permanent collection.