Julia Sweeney is an amazing storyteller and comedian. She can take you on a journey through some big issues and make you laugh along the way. The beautiful thing is that the laughs are real, but they do not take anything away from the gravity of the events in the story. She's an amazing talent.
In this particular piece of work Julia takes us through the trials of her brother dying of cancer, being diagnosed with cancer herself, and having her parents come to live with her. It's both touching and hilarious in a way that I don't think many other artists could create.
Michelle's story is unbelievably heartbreaking. Of course the years in the Castro house were horrific, but it turns out that her life BEFORE she was kidnapped were pretty horrible too.
What is truly amazing is the strength this woman kept throughout the unspeakable horrors of her life. I thought the book was well-written and the narration was fine (I also wasn't expecting a literary masterpiece). It is a moving, in-depth look at the strength of the human spirit.
If you have "read" Julia's previous works, especially "In the Family Way," you will find the first several chapters of this book to be a lot of review with some new tidbits sprinkled in. It's all good material, it's just material you've heard before. Perhaps this is why I can't give it 5 stars. If all of the stories were new to me, I can imagine giving it 5 stars. I started to get concerned that I had just bought a compilation of excerpts from her other work. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. There's lots of new material here that will keep you thinking and laughing.
If you are really interested in the content of this book, the narration is bearable. If you're only somewhat interested, the narration will probably kill the book for you. If you are not looking specifically for a story about someone who was born in one of these camps escaping, I think Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy is a much better book both in performance and story. I'd recommend listening to Nothing to Envy before Escape from Camp 14.
With all of the publicity that this book has received, I was somewhat interested in hearing it. I really expected this woman to be a militant, closed-minded person with no interest at all in the American way. It turns out to be an amazing story in which we are made to understand why she did the things she did and how this mom grew over the years. I was surprised when I found myself laughing out loud listening to some of the power struggles that started from the very early years of her daughters' lives. One thing is for sure, there really aren't many American moms with the level of commitment and endurance that this mother has. I'm hopeful that the daughters will write their own books from their perspectives later in their lives.
If I could give 10 stars for this performance, I absolutely would. Although I haven't actually read the book, I can't imagine that reading it would be as good as listening to it. When people new to audiobooks ask me for recommendations, I always include this audiobook. It's an incredible story with the most amazing performance I think I have heard so far. A real treasure.
Penn definitely meanders in a lot of different directions that aren't necessarily related to atheism. However, I'd put a high entertainment rating on the entire book. It's both sensible and hilarious.
I never ever cry at books. This one had me sitting, listening, with big fat tears rolling down my face. Both sad and joyous. A beautiful book.
I very much looked forward to getting this book and listened to it in two sittings. I think it's certainly worth getting, but the listener needs to be aware that Jaycee is not a professional narrator and probably never will be. If we keep in mind that this woman was kidnapped and hidden away when she was in the 5th grade and held for 18 years, the writing and narration is actually pretty good. I really don't know how she got through not only writing this book, but then recording it. I hope it was a therapeutic experience rather than an experience of torture reliving all of these memories. I especially liked that toward the end of the book, she includes a bunch of entries from a journal she started while living in the backyard. In those entries, you get to hear her voice while inside the situation rather than as a past experience. I'm impressed with Jaycee's resiliency and ability to move on and look to make each coming day a good one. I find myself completely baffled as to why we even have a parole system at all. Clearly no one was keeping an eye on this guy whatsoever. How many other Jaycee's are out there just waiting to be found?
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