It had been way too long since I had actually sat down and read a good memoir. Partly because I hadn’t made the time, bueno esa es la mera razón, but also because most of the books I’d browsed at the bookstore recently had either 1) seemed so interesting that they would be too much of a distraction to everything else on my agenda, or 2) they just weren’t captivating enough from the quick skim I’d given them. This month’s review, however, came into my hands by way of someone whose taste in everything has almost always coincided with my own: my brother.
The book is Jaycee Dugard’s A Stolen Life, and let me just say from the very beginning, this was one of the most difficult personal accounts I’ve ever sat down and read from cover to cover. Having said that, the book was also such a page-turner that I found myself falling asleep reading it, waking up early to read it, sneaking time in everywhere and anywhere to catch up with what she was sharing with me through her words – hasta en el baño… ya sé, TMI!! The point being, nonetheless, that it was a gripping account of just how horrible her existence was during the 18 years she was held captive by her kidnappers, from the age of 11 to 29.
Ironically, the feeling that most accurately describes Dugard’s memoir, for me, is hope.
There were more than a few times that I couldn’t hold back my emotions and actually had to wipe the tears from my eyes to keep reading, and each time I couldn’t help thinking “wow, if she could survive this and come out of it, what can’t the human spirit do?” Her story in the end is just that: the story of human perseverance and how strong we often don’t realize we can be. I mean here she was an 11 year old girl who one day was planning her summer days with her best friend, and the next she was trapped in a living hell, where she was abused and tortured in every way humanly possible, and despite it all, her spirit survived, even allowing her the capability to forgive. Sure, at times her voice is subdued, even childlike, but given the life she was forced to live it’s amazing that she even decided to share her story in a book.
I for one am grateful that she did.
As part of this review I’d like to also share a few excerpts from the book:
From her first days in captivity at the age of 11
“The man takes me in his arms and offers comfort. I do not want comfort from this awful man, but there is no one else here and I reluctantly lean into what comfort he gives. Up until now I have not cried one time. Only on the inside. Now I feel like a rabbit being comforted by a lion. I am so scared. My tears continue to run down my cheeks; I can feel them wet and warm. They once again become silent tears running down my face into nothingness.”
From her journal entry on June 2, 2002 – age: 22
“I miss her [her mother]. I wonder what she thinks about me. I wonder if she ever thinks about me. Sometimes I hope that she doesn’t because I don’t want her to be sad and sometimes I wonder if she’s happier that I’m not around anymore. I don’t like that thought! …Does she miss me?”
From her journal entry on March 13, 2004 – age: 24
“I’m sorry. Sorry for everything I can’t be. Sorry I can’t be what he wants me to be. I don’t even know exactly what that is. I’m just sorry. Sometimes I feel so alone, I know that’s crazy because I’m not alone. I have my cats and people who love me, too. It’s just I don’t know what I want. Some days I can clearly see everything and things seem easy, and the next day seems blurry and I can’t see what I want. Nights are the worst because I have too much time to think. Sometimes I think I’m being too dramatic and complain too much. What do I have to complain about? I have food, I have shelter from the rain, well, unless my tent is leaking. I don’t want to hurt him [her kidnapper]; sometimes I think my very presence hurts him. So how can I ever tell him how I want to be FREE to come and go as I please? FREE to say, I have a family. FREE.”