STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, photographer, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Time for Another Book Review...

New York Times and # 1 Canadian bestseller A House in the Sky, a 2013 memoir by Amanda Lindhout co-authored by Sara Corbett, is one of the most rivetting books you will read this year. I'm not the only one who thinks so: it won the 2014 CBC Bookie Award for Best Canadian Nonfiction, was nominated for the 2014 Libris Award for best nonfiction book of 2013 and Author of the Year, and was an Amazon Editor's Pick for Top 20 books of 2013. It's been called "a stunning story of strength and survival" (Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle.) The Globe and Mail said "A House in the Sky  should be mandatory reading for anybody who feels compelled to work in the toughest parts of the world." Have I convinced you yet, that you need to read this book?
Lindhout grew up in a broken home near Calgary, Alberta, and dreamed of travelling to exotic destinations as she "escaped" her difficult home situation by reading old National Geographic magazines. Once she finished high school she moved to Calgary and began working as a waitress, saving her tips to fund her dreams of world travel. It wasn't long before she slipped into a routine of work, travel, work, travel, work, travel.  But she didn't travel to the "usual" destinations. No "twenty-something carefree backpacking jaunt around continental Europe" for her. She was truly into more "exotic" locales, like Venezuela, most of Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia.... then on to more unconventional and remote destinations, on her own: Sudan, Syria, Pakistan. Each trip gave her confidence and fueled her curiosity to continue seeing the world. By the time she traveled to war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq she had decided to try her hand at journalism. With no formal training, she began as a freelance journalist in Kabul, then moved on to Baghdad to report for Iran's Press TV. From there she decided to go to Mogadishu, Somalia, one of the most dangerous places on earth, and an area under-represented by journalists. She asked a former boyfriend and fellow traveler, Aussie photographer Nigel Brennan, to join her and he accepted. Several days after their arrival in Somalia they were kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalist insurgents, and held prisoner for 15 months.
What followed for the remaining 2/3 of the book was not an easy read. Lindhout was beaten, starved, chained in a dark room, sexually abused and tortured. It is difficult to read, but impossible to put down. To call it a compelling read, a page-turner, is putting it mildly. This story is a testament to courage and hope, and the human spirit. Amanda is clearly a woman of great strength, remaining positive in her outlook despite the captivity and brutal treatment they both endured. She refused to be broken.
I won't give away any more of the story, but obviously they both escaped. Today Amanda is an award-winning humanitarian, social activist, public speaker and the founder of the Global Enrichment Foundation. She has chosen forgiveness over anger and bitterness, starting this organization to empower and educate women in Somalia, the very country where she was held captive for 460 days. You can read more about Amanda Lindhout here. And... you must read her book. Trust me, you will be a changed person after.. if nothing else, you will appreciate your freedom.


"Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul." ~ Joyce Carol Oates


Vee said...

I have heard Amanda's story as she was interviewed for one of the magazine programs...perhaps 20-20. It was an incredibly compelling story. I was shocked by her naiveté prior to capture. She paid a horrible price for it. I can only imagine how intense her memoir must be.

HollyM said...

You write a very thorough review! I will be paying more attention. This book was passed to me from my daughter who has done much traveling herself, thankfully in not quite so dangerous conditions.
It was a very compelling book. I could not put it down.

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