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A Stolen Life {Book Review}.

If you don't know who Jaycee Dugard is, I invite you to crawl out from under the rock you've been living under and join the rest of the world. Jaycee Lee Dugard was abducted while walking to school when she was just seven-year-old. She spent 18 years in captivity with her abuser, Phillip Garrido, and his wife, Nancy, mothering two children. 

When this book came out a few years ago, I wanted to read it, but I never got around to it. The other day, when I went into work, Michelle Knight was on the news, and she was talking about the book she released about her more than a decade of captivity, Finding Me: A Decade of  Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings. I was also in the midst of reading one of my favorite books by Sarah Dessen, Just Listen, which also deals with rape. For some reason, both of these events made me want to finally pick up Jaycee Dugard's book. 

Even though I knew the general background about Jaycee's abduction, nothing could prepare me for the horror that was written in this book. My stomach turned just reading about it, and I can't believe that she was brave enough to both survive what happened to her and relive it long enough to write this book. 
Jaycee's abduction notice with age progression
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What was intriguing about this book was that she wrote the memoir in the perspective of her younger self, recounting the day that she was abducted by mentioning that she was angry at her mother for forgetting to give her a kiss and how she was uncomfortable when this stranger asked her to remove her clothes. She bounced back between telling the story from her younger perspective and reflecting back on what happened to her. Throughout the book, she also has scans of some of her diary and copies of her journal. Most parts of this book left me with a knot in a my stomach and a broken heart. 

Jaycee mothered two children while she was in captivity, having her first at the young age of 14. After having her kids, she wasn't even allowed to have her children call her "mom." Her other captor, Nancy, was actually jealous of Jaycee (1) because Jaycee got all of Phillip's attention and (2) because she couldn't have children. After Jaycee's second child was born, she was given a new name, Alissa, and as far as the children knew, Nancy was their mother and Jaycee, or Alissa, was their sister. 

What angers me even more is that authorities had so many chances to find Jaycee. Phillip Garrido was on parole after being released early from prison, but no one went to checked the backyard. After the Garridos started getting brave enough to let Jaycee and children in her house, she even spoke with authorities, but no one recognized her. It breaks my heart that Jaycee didn't have the courage to speak up about being abducted. Even when she was at the police station and the woman asked her what her name was, she couldn't even say it because she spent 18 years not allowed to say it.

The Garridos
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Jaycee Dugard should be an inspiration to everyone. Even through everything that happened to her, she never gave up home of seeing her mother again. She made several lists in her journals, and she always dreamed about seeing her mother again. She was confident that she would be able to one day. Somehow, she was still able to stay positive, writing down her favorite quotes and ways to counteract her negative feelings. 

I give this book a 4 out of 5. If you're brave enough to stomach some of the awful things that Jaycee was put through, I definitely think you should read this book. It makes you appreciate the things that you take for granted. When I was 14, I was worrying about shaving my legs and trying to get a boyfriend, not being a mother. Jaycee is so brave for being able to come out of such darkness and be willing to share her story with others. 

16 comments :

  1. Caroline {Virginia Sweet}May 27, 2014 at 8:55 AM

    Books like this capture me and my mind races with so many emotions. I think I will have to put this on my summer reading list! Thank you for sharing!

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  2. Wow, I definitely want to read this book. I'm not sure if I could handle it though! I can't believe there are actually people like Garridos that exist in this world. :( At least it has a happy ending kind of!

    xo Megan, Lush to Blush

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  3. This is definitely on my summer reading list! I just have to mentally prepare myself for it first!

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  4. Oh my gosh, this sounds terrible! (The situation, not the book). I want to read this, but I'm a little scared of what I would encounter upon reading it. I'll pick it up next time I get to go to a book store!

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  5. i read this, and i thought it was great! so incredibly powerful. have you read "the face on the milk carton"? it's sort of similar and i really enjoyed it.

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  6. You should! I think everyone should read it. Her story is definitely one worth telling and reading.

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  7. I didn't think I could handle it either, and some parts were definitely hard to read. She was such an innocent girl, and the best years of her life were literally stolen from her. I can't believe people like them exist either. I was so happy to read about her reunion with her family at the end.

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  8. I had to mentally prepare myself too! It was a great read, and I hope you enjoy reading it.

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  9. I just couldn't imagine going through what she went through. To be locked up for 18 years. She really came out of the situation in a big way though. You should definitely read it. I think everyone should! It's a story worth telling.

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  10. It was definitely a powerful story. I didn't read The Face on the Milk Carton, but I did watch the movie. It's been on my to-read list for awhile though.

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  11. I remember reading this book, it was heart breaking to read what happened to her, but she was a strong girl, that's for sure. I agree that is a little like The Face on the Milk Carton, I almost forgot about that book, I read it such a long time ago! It was a good read too, I didn't know it was a movie!

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  12. It was so so heartbreaking. I just really can't imagine going through that, and I really don't want to! How horrible. I watched The Face on the Milk Carton movie a long time ago, and I don't really remember much about it at all. I feel like it was on Lifetime or something like that. It was a TV movie.

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  13. Oh my gosh, the poor girl! I don't think I can stomach this book so I will have to skip it. =.(

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  14. It was definitely a hard book to stomach, but I still enjoyed reading her story. There are tons of interviews to watch on YouTube though, and it still gives the general gist without going into the gory details.

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  15. I've read it... very freaky :/ But a good read, none the less!

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  16. Freaky is a good word. It's just weird to think how easily kids are manipulated. I can't imagine being so scared to speak my own name.

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