Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Stolen Life (3)

I read a lot of sad books, which seems to be kind of unfortunate since my readers like to read about my life more than they like to read about what I think about sad books that I read. Picking up this book from the library made me feel like I was getting a giant People magazine, I felt voyeuristic and a little gross that I would even want to read this tale.
            A Stolen Life tells the story of Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped at the age of 11 by a stranger named Phillip and his wife Nancy. They kept her in their backyard for 18 years where they forced her to become their “family.” Phillip told her that she was helping him with his sex addiction by letting him repeatedly rape her so that no one else had to suffer…as she was suffering. Jaycee begins her story by stating that writing it she felt free from her captor. She was denying his commands she had kept for so long by telling the world the secrets he made her keep.
            Jaycee writes her story in her own words, from the day she was kidnapped up to the time she was writing her memoir, two years later. After a story, she’ll reflect upon how she currently is feeling. It is amazing to read such a devastating tale and how much Jaycee has been able to grow into her newfound freedom.
            I feel uncomfortable really reviewing this book, because it is so personal. Her writing is a bit childish, but what do you expect of a girl who was taken out of school at 11 to basically be a sex slave? She was more or less not allowed to leave the confines of the backyard and only had contact with her kidnapper, his wife, and the two daughters she bore. Her greatest joy was in the many pets that came and went during her life. Since being freed she has gone on to start her own foundation to help families dealing with similar situations and helping abandoned animals.
            What makes this book almost a joy to read is that you, the reader, get to watch this woman go from a scared victim to a free woman both physically and mentally. It is not an easy path and it is incredible that you, for a moment, almost see Phillip and Nancy as her “family” and her life as almost happy before she is freed. Jaycee has such a wonderful, happy spirit that she sounds almost content some of the time.
            Considering the content, this book is not too painful to read. She doesn’t go into too much detail about the horrors she was put through, only really explaining them in the beginning, when it is most painful because she is so young. As the book continues, the pain is more mental than physical, but it has a happy ending! It is a powerful story of the resilience of the human spirit and the healing power of family love, caring strangers, and professional therapy.

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