Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Stolen Life (memoir)

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

Like probably most everyone else, I've been riveted by stories in magazines and in the news about Jaycee Dugard. And like probably most everyone else, I've had a morbid curiosity about what actually happened during her captivity. Her face once again graced the cover of last week's People magazine, and ABC televised an hour-long candid interview this past Sunday night between Jaycee and Diane Sawyer. I forgot to record the interview Sunday night but watched it in snippets throughout the day on Monday, and found myself often in awe, and often in tears. Her memoir was due to be released on Tuesday, so I preordered it on my iPad so it would download as soon as it became available, and it downloaded Monday evening. That night I read the first 100 pages without stopping.

This is her detailed account of what happened: how one June morning in 1991, she walked to the bus stop like on any other ordinary school day, only on this day, a man by the name of Phillip Garrido pulled up alongside her in his car, reached his hand out the window, and paralyzed her with a stun gun, and then, with the help of his wife, Nancy, abducted her, drove her to their home a couple hours away and proceeded to keep her in captivity in their backyard for the next eighteen years. Eighteen years! It's almost inconceivable. During this time, she becomes no less than Phillip Garrido's sex slave and bears two children by him, giving birth both times in the squalid backyard, the first time when she was only fourteen years old.

It is an utterly riveting read, and yet, extremely difficult and disturbing. What this girl endured was horrific, and I honestly don't think I could have read it had I not known that in the end, she triumphs.

I got the impression that the book is intentionally not over-edited; it has a very stream-of-consciousness tone to it and very much reads like a young girl pouring her heart and memories out. And yes, she does still come across as very young; her writing has a very adolescent tone to it, which makes perfect sense - she was abducted at the age of eleven, and in a big way began a state of almost suspended animation at that point, being robbed of all the ordinary life experiences that mature a person.

It's very much worth reading, but not for the faint-of-heart.


  1. On the fence...want to read this, but then again maybe no. I may be too sensitive to read this I don't know.

  2. I am waiting to be in the right frame of mind to read this ... I have it on my wish list but haven't downloaded it yet because I'm not sure when the right time will be ... ugh! so sad

  3. Diane, it IS very, very sad. But against great odds, she manages to come out of it with her spirit intact, and that says a lot. Knowing that is probably the only thing that gave me the stomach to read it.

    What has struck me, though . . . and not to take away in any way from Jaycee's horrific experience . . . but the fact of the matter is that this kind of thing goes on every day in other countries - young, young girls being sold into the sex trade to satisfy the perverted appetites of sick adults. And it's just accepted on some level.

    It's a sick, sick world.

  4. I'm curious, too, but will not read it any time soon; only because I have other books that I really want fo finish.

    I hope lots of people will buy it. She deserves as much income as possible for herself and her precious daughters.

    In a few years, I think she will do something to raise awareness of the horrors of child kidnappings and the sex trades.

    Thanks for your review. Based on what you've said, I feel that it is a book I can read.

  5. Ms. Dugard has a very strong spirit. I admire her ability to persevere.

  6. Jaycee does her best to be open and honest, from child to the woman she is today. Reveals the awful truth but brings hope to all. She is one strong woman and mother.