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A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

>> Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Stolen Life by Jaycee DugardA Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 273
Source: Library

The Short Version:
Jaycee Dugard tells her own story of her abduction at age eleven and the following eighteen years of her captivity and abuse by her kidnapper.

Why I Read It:
When Jaycee was found and the story of her years of abuse and captivity began to come out it was both horrifying and fascinating. When I read that she’d done this memoir without a ghostwriter I wanted to read her story as she told it herself.

The Book:
From the inside flap:

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.

My Thoughts:
I knew going in that this was Jaycee’s own story without the potential tabloid drama that can be added to a story like this with some ghostwriters or co-authors. On the other hand I also know that she’s not a professional writer and because of that I didn’t have high expectations of the writing but I still wanted to read Jaycee’s story.

As far as her story goes, yes it’s horrifying. The things that this eleven year old girl had to endure were so difficult to read that I seriously considered setting the book aside and not continuing to read. That she endured and survived is amazing. She freely admits that she’s still recovering from everything she’s been through and is still learning to be an independent adult and make up for the childhood that was stolen from her. It’s raw and brutally honest in ways that are both awful and a testament to this young woman’s strength and determination.

Yes it’s clearly not written by a professional writer. In many ways it’s very simply written and childlike. This is probably to be expected from someone whose normal life ended at age eleven. Her extensive stories and focus on the many cats she had over the years intensify the childlike feel of the way she tells her story.

As Jaycee says in the opening Author’s Note:
I’m not the average storyteller . . .I’m me . . . and my experience is very uncommon. Yes, I jump around with tangents, but that’s sometimes the way my mind works. If you want a less confusing story, come back to me in ten years from now when I sort it all out!

Rating 3/5


Eleanor 10/06/2011 3:22 PM  

I am so glad that "they" let Jaycee tell her own story without tidying it up editorially. She had no voice with which to speak for way too long.

Kailana 10/06/2011 7:11 PM  

I am glad that she had the chance to write this book, but I am not sure if I want to read it myself...

Anna 10/07/2011 5:35 AM  

This book was so incredibly sad and anger-inducing, and yet it was hopeful, too. I'm glad she told the story in her own words. I had to read it after seeing her interview with Diane Sawyer.

Darlene 10/07/2011 9:56 AM  

I had to read this after Diane Sawyer's interview but I've also had to read it in little bits. It is horrific what she went through. I'm glad the story is told in her own way because, as someone else said, she hasn't had a voice in a long time.

Cindy Swanson 10/08/2011 9:35 AM  

Like everyone, I was appalled when this story came out, but I would love to read it from her perspective. Definitely going on my to-read list!

Cindy at Cindy's Book Club

Michelle 10/08/2011 7:22 PM  

I applaud you on your bravery at reading this. I'm not certain it is one I would be able to read only because of her experiences. I really do like the fact that no one wrote it on her behalf. I suspect it is much more brutal a read because she had to relive these experiences as she put them to paper.

SuziQoregon 10/11/2011 9:15 AM  

Eleanor: I agree - it was a tough read and not the most polished writing but it was clearly the real Jaycee. She's made a lot of progress but has a lot of healing to do and I think her deciding to do the book this was is part of that.

Kailana: I nearly put it aside and didn't finish it. It's very tough to read in places.

Anna: exactly - sad and anger inducing at what she went through, but hopeful in the way she's moving forward and taking care of her daughters. I didn't see the interview but might hunt it up and watch it.

Darlene: I totally understand reading it in little bits. I'm glad she was able to do it her own way, though.

Cindy: will be curious to hear what you think.

Michelle: I almost didn't. At about page 50 I wasn't sure I could keep reading. Horrific stuff. She inserts 'reflections' at the end of each section of her story talking about how she felt about writing it and how she looks at it now in hindsight. That was quite interesting.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I read and respond them here although not always right away. If you would prefer an email response let me know.

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