Hello emotional rollercoaster. After my last book, I was really in the mood for something funny. I thought the new Andy Borowitz book would be perfect but after several calls around town trying to find it with no luck - I realized I would have to pick something from my already growing collection of unread books.
So, I went with A Stolen Life, a memoir by Jaycee Dugard.
Yup, kind of the EXACT opposite of funny.
This book is unsettling from the very first page even though you know how the story ends. A young girl making breakfast, walking to school, is ripped off the streets and forced into eighteen years of captivity, rape and abuse. Yeah, crazy stuff.
It's amazing I kept reading, but even though Jaycee apologizes for jumping around the storyline, the book is actually well-written, so you just keep on reading.
Jaycee is honest and detailed in her telling of Phillip Garrido's rape and abuse of her, but I couldn't help feeling she is sparing the audience some of the details. Her story isn't one filled with blood and guts, it's more mentally traumatizing. Which explains why the thought of it lingers with you long after you set the book down.
She is honest in how she percieves her kidnapping through the eyes of her eleven year-old self. At times, I think her willingness to go along with Phillip's many crazed ideas probably saved her life, at other times, I think she could have broken free if she only believed more strongly in herself.
The early years are the hardest to swallow, but knowing the outcome of her rescue keeps you pushing through the pages. She talks so strongly of her willingness to survive, to live, to keep some normalcy in her life. She gives birth twice, at age fourteen and seventeen, and raises her daughters in the disgusting backyard of her drug-induced captors. She is forced to live in a tent at the back of their dilapidated property where she is hidden from neighbours. At times you are yelling at her to scream for help, but at others you can see why she feels like she has lost her voice.
At the end, you can't help but feel proud of her for telling her story, I'm not sure I would if that was me. She talks about how lucky she is to have freedom, to experience the things in life we all enjoy on a daily basis. She is thankful for things that I don't even notice when I live an average day, and whenever I read dark stories, I always come out feeling more appreciative of life.
One thing Jaycee does leave out of the novel is what happens to Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy. I suppose she didn't want to waste anytime thinking about their lives once she was free of their grip.
Phillip Garrido received a sentence of 431 years to life and his wife Nancy was sentenced to 36 years to life for holding Dugard captive for 18 years and repeatedly raping her.