Friday, October 18, 2013

A House in the Sky: A Memoir

18039963As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road.
Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives “wife lessons” from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape. Moved between a series of abandoned houses in the desert, she survives on memory—every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity—and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark, being tortured.

*May Contain Spoilers*

Prepare to be held hostage in a country waging a war still current enough to feel the aftershock with Amanda Lindhout in her memoir, A House in the Sky, written with Sara Corbett. The raw writing style and honesty with which Amanda tells her story is both haunting and beautiful. 

Amanda shares her story with readers from the beginning, when traveling the world was just a dream. She worked to save enough money to fund a trip abroad for several weeks. After the first stint, Amanda discovered her love of the world and her desire to see it all. To ensure she could keep traveling she began working as a photojournalist. Through the memoir, readers watch Amanda change from a free, loving, adventurous woman into a mistreated captive who retreats into her own mind to escape the torture she experiences. Readers will connect with her open spirit and endless curiosity in the beginning of the memoir so easily that after she is taken hostage by Somalian renegades, it's as if readers are trapped along with her. 

The story that Amanda tells will haunt readers. Everything that Amanda lived and survived through is absolutely amazing and horribly astounding. The strength she had when she was living in absolute darkness, the hope that bloomed when she and Nigel (her close friend who was kidnapped with her) discovered a way to escape, and the beautiful world she focused on to help her keep breathing is heartbreaking and hard to understand. A House in the Sky is a poignant and terrifying memoir of one woman's courage to survive. I think though it may not be accessible genre-wise to every reader, it's definitely a book worth reading, and experiencing. 

Rating: 5/5 Cups

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