Title: A Stolen Life
Author: Jaycee Dugard
Review: Horrific; that is the one word that sums up this book. The things I look for in a memoir are good writing and brutal honesty. Jaycee manages both as she tells about her life as a prisoner of a mentally deranged sex offender. At its heart it is the story of a little girl’s courage as she endures unending torture and still come out the other end capable of loving relationships.
What hit home the most for me is my own daughter is 11 years old right now and she constantly wants to hug me, like all the time. One of Jaycee’s last memories prior to being kidnapped was she had scolded her mother the night before for forgetting to kiss her goodbye in the morning. That morning her mom forgot once again. It is clear this action affected her deeply and I can only imagine what this has done to her mom over the years since. It makes me more mindful to hug my daughter when she wants to, because the extremely rare stranger abduction aside, there will come a day when she is a teenager when she won’t want to anymore.
I like how she tells the events in a straight forward manner and then reflects back on her feelings about those same events. I do not know the time frame between the two, but you can tell she has spent the time processing her thoughts and feelings. As she states in the introduction, the book would be different yet again if she were to write it ten years from now. I also would agree when reflecting on the abuse that she does not understand why anyone would do those things to another human being, let alone a little girl. It is such a simple statement but yet so powerful. It washes away all of her abusers justifications for his abhorrent actions.
The only unfortunate tone found in the book is she spends a lot of time indirectly making it clear how much control and influence her abuser had over her life. It is sad that she finds it necessary to express this as obviously she has been questions by unthinking people as to whether she had a part in her abuse over the 19 years. Stuff like Why didn’t you just run away? Those opinions are idiotic and people forget that she was just a little girl and has no part and no blame in anything that happened. The fact she is as resilient as she now seems is a testament to her personal strength.
This is a powerful book that will make you hug your children a little closer, and show you just how strong the spirit of one young girl can be in the face of complete evil. It shows that scenarios depicted in books like Room can unfortunately be real, and we need to speak up when we see the abuse of children in our lives.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Quick Review: 4 stars (out of 5)
Why I Read It: A fascinating case that she made it home after 18 years
Where I Obtained the Book: From my local library
Synopsis: In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.
For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.
For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.
On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.
A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.
Author Biography: The kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard occurred on June 10, 1991, when she was 11 years old. Dugard was abducted from a school bus stop within sight of her home in South Lake Tahoe, California. Searches began immediately after the kidnapping, but no reliable leads were generated. She remained missing for more than 18 years.
On August 25, 2009, convicted sex offender Phillip Craig Garrido visited the campus of UC Berkeley accompanied by two young girls. Their unusual behavior there sparked an investigation that led to his bringing the two girls to a parole office on August 26, accompanied by a woman who was then identified as Dugard.
Garrido, 58, and his wife Nancy Garrido, 54, of Antioch, California, were arrested for kidnapping and other charges; they pleaded guilty on April 28, 2011 to Dugard's kidnapping and sexual assault. Law enforcement officers believe Dugard was kept in a concealed area behind Garrido's house in Antioch for 18 years. During this time Dugard bore two daughters who were aged 11 and 15 at the time of her reappearance.
On June 2, 2011, Philip Garrido was sentenced to 431 years' imprisonment; his wife received 36 years to life.