Amanda Lindhout reads her spectacularly dramatic memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her from rural Canada to imperiled and dangerous countries on every continent, and then into 15 months of harrowing captivity in Somalia - a story of courage, resilience, and extraordinary grace.
At the age of 18, Amanda Lindhout moved from her hardscrabble Alberta hometown to the big city - Calgary - and worked as a cocktail waitress, saving her tips so she could travel the globe. As a child, she escaped a violent household by paging through National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. Now she would see those places for real. She backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each experience, went on to travel solo across Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a TV reporter. In August 2008, she traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia - "the most dangerous place on Earth" - to report on the fighting there. On her fourth day in the country, she and her photojournalist companion were abducted.
An astoundingly intimate and harrowing account of Lindhout's 15 months as a captive, A House in the Sky illuminates the psychology, motivations, and desperate extremism of her young guards and the men in charge of them. She is kept in chains, nearly starved, and subjected to unthinkable abuse. She survives by imagining herself in a "house in the sky", looking down at the woman shackled below, and finding strength and hope in the power of her own mind. Lindhout's decision, upon her release, to counter the violence she endured by founding an organization to help the Somali people rebuild their country through education is a wrenching testament to the capacity of the human spirit and an astonishing portrait of the power of compassion and forgiveness.
©2013 Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett (P)2013 Simon & Schuster
Say something about yourself!
I always feel that when reviewing a memoir you have to stick to rules that don't dishonor the author that is so bravely sharing a part of their soul. It is safe to say that Amanda shares hers with a restraint I respect, focusing on the surface events and the space within herself from which she drew the will to survive. She shows a surprising element of understanding towards her captors, and her partner Nigel, that I don't think I would have had the grace with which to do so. Accepting responsibility for her plight (which she does admirably) shows that this is a woman not wanting to waste her precious time placing blame or wearing the victim label.
The book gives the right amount of background story, is well written and edited, and refrains from manipulating the reader. I am still processing many aspects of the story, both the fascinating psychology involved, and the global politics. The hatred directed at the West, the treatment of women, then the reverse desire to have a Western education...but I don't want to tread into the politics. (The events that involved the ex-boyfriend have me still scratching my head...I would love to have that discussion with other readers.) I watched Amanda's interview with 20/20, and have since watched several other interviews she has given. The book is an extended version of those interviews. Amanda's story shows that she has learned to draw a positive power from the trauma, using it as the impetus to reach out to others; she is an empowered survivor whose courage and determination could not be beaten.
Memoirs read by the author are special. Amanda L. does a good job telling her story. Amanda, and others who travel the world with reckless disregard of others, engender mixed feelings in me.
One gets an intimate view of what it is like to be a hostage. Things that occur are not surprising to anyone who reads the news but an unflinching first hand account. Amanda L. has taken an amazing tour of some of the most dangerous places in the world. One cannot help admire her bravery and inquisitiveness.
That said, I could not help but be troubled by her trip to Somalia. She admits it was a mistake, but most would have known that at the outset. She put her family through a terrible ordeal. She endangered others.
I didn't and don't dislike her. I admire her and I admire the work she has done since her release to help the women of Somalia. Still, my admiration is tinged with a bit of sadness that these events occurred.
The book is well worth a listen.
I loved this entire book and was only disappointed when it was over. After the initial chapters in which you learn what kind of person Amanda is, the story becomes fascinating, horrifying, uplifting, and disturbing, all at once. I listened to it during my commute to/from work and every day I couldn't wait to get into the car.
Amanda does a great job of reading the book, and because she is the author she really delivers a deep feeling for what the story is about.
Listen to it. You'll love it.
I loved listening to Amanda's narration of her book. This is an addictive book, I couldn't stop listening.
Voice of author was compelling....true, gritty, vicariously compelling. A can't stop read of life at its most despicable and most enduring. Somalia's reporting is best left for the pro's, but I doubt they would have lived to tell this macabre a story. I heard Richard Engle speak in DC this summer, at the fallen journalists memorial at Newseum; his comments confirmed an even broader belief that this could - and does happen. Lindhout is so naive a character that you want to shake her out of dreamland. When you finally want to hug her, you can't...she's so broken. But then the healing begins.
"House of Light is filled with enough darkness to push us into the outer realms of human belief. The light will come, but in ways that totally surprise you."
I'm Trying to see the world with my ears.
Powerful book, and must have been a difficult process to put the pen to the paper, I could not put it down. And now I can't stop thinking about it.
I read many books each month, but this one will stay with me for quite some time.
It made me at once ashamed to be a man, to be connected in any way to the perpetrators of such evil,
and also to be buoyed as a part of the human crowd who do such amazing, heartfelt work, my respect doubled for Amanda. What a beautiful soul.
Amanda's story is one that I will not forget. I appreciated her candor, and her willingness to forgive everybody, including herself.
When Amanda and Nigel escaped to the mosque, I was touched by the woman who tried to save her, and appalled that everybody else either ignored them, or aided their captors, without so much as a second thought.
This was a passionate first person account. I never doubted a word she said.
I was moved by this book. I am afraid and hopeful at the same time.
I couldn't put this one down.
Amanda has clearly and honestly written about the most difficult time in her life. Her courage and will to survive are inspiring. The performance was sincere, genuine and excellent!
The thread of hope throughout. The honesty.
Clear, genuine, sincere.
Yes. It is a MUST read.
Amanda is tied up in the shape of the letter "U" for days....She finds her house in the sky during this time. It is not the discovery but the emotion I felt listening to her torture. I will never forget this. Nor will I forget when she discovers mold growing on her face.
I loved the book because it was a true story. I learn many things I didn't know before reading her story. I am more aware when I read the news looking for kidnappings overseas. Amanda tells the rape details perfectly. Amanda's capacity for forgiveness is amazing? Inspiring? Unbelievable? Depressing? I can't describe what she went through -- the book must be read. Also watch her on Dateline NBC....
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