This book will take your breath away. Literally. This is the true story, about Amanda Lindhout, and her experience being held hostage for 460 days in Somalia. Being the avid traveler that I am, as soon as my friend told me about A House in the Sky, I immediately made a beeline for the library to pick up the book. This book is written by Lindhout herself, along with contributing The New York times Magazine writer, Sara Corbett.
Lindhout grew up in a violent household in Canada, and escaped from her childhood by diving into the pages of National Geographic. When she turned 19, she began saving all of her tips from her job as a cocktail waitress, that way she could travel and explore the world. She trekked through Bangladesh, India, Laos, and Latin America. She made her way to the Middle East and traveled throughout Sudan, Syria, Pakistan, and during the war, visited Afghanistan and Iraq, where she was able to become a successful television reporter. Her life changed drastically forever in August of 2008, when she and her entourage decided to travel to Somalia, “the most dangerous place on earth.” Just four days into her trip, she and her former boyfriend, Nigel Brennan, were kidnapped by a group of masked teenage boys. For 460 days, they were held hostage, and brutally tortured.
A House in the Sky is symbolic for the mindset Lindhout had that allowed her to go to a place of peace, and the determination and will to escape her torment, and survive. The memoir depicts the extraordinary strength Lindhout had, both physically and mentally. She recalled the same pictures and stories she had embedded in her mind, from when she would try to escape her own childhood, while she was held hostage, just to escape from her own thoughts that would drive herself crazy. Lindhout did everything she could to survive and see her own country and her family again. She converted to Islam, to please her kidnappers and make life easier for herself, while she was beat, raped, held in chains in dark rooms, and starved nearly to death. Lindhout’s story of survival is incredibly inspiring and will leave you with goosebumps and a dropped jaw. Instead of holding on to anger and hate, Lindhout continues to help aid the people of Somalia and Kenya, and has since founded the Global Enrichment Foundation in May of 2010, while having joined other numerous charities to end violence against women.
I had chills reading this book. You will too.
[photo via* Steve Carty]