A House In The Sky

I’m not sure how many stars to give this book. I have some extremely mixed feelings about it. Maybe writing a review will help with that. Amanda Lindhout had a rough childhood. She grew up without much and in a home with an alcoholic step-father. She got the travel bug and decided to see the world. So she went everywhere. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa. She decided to become a journalist and went to Iraq and then Somalia. She convinced her ex-boyfriend, photographer, Nigel to go with her and then they were kidnapped and spent 460 days in captivity. While being held hostage, she was exposed to unimaginable pain and torture, including being raped repeatedly. She and Nigel even converted to Islam in an attempt to get better treatment.

This was a hard book to read. Not hard because it was poorly written or didn’t have a compelling story to tell. Hard because it was emotionally hard. I cannot fathom being subjected to the kinds of things that she was subjected to. And I suppose she’s a bigger person than I, because I do not think I could find one ounce of sympathy or compassion for those who tortured and raped me.

Other reviews complained of her naiveté about travelling to Somalia, Iraq, and other parts of the world in conflict. I think that was related to her age and sense of invincibility. Enough about the things I didn’t like.

I did like a lot about this book. I liked her descriptions of places and people and food and everyday items. She has a gift at drawing a picture in your mind of the places she has been, people she has met, even the foot she ate. I could picture each house she was held captive in. I could picture the big brown eyes of the woman who tried to help her when she attempted to escape. This book is full of rich, vivid descriptions of places I will likely never see. Most memoirs have a photograph section. This book did not need it because of the way Ms. Lindhout was able to describe everything. And she did it in a manner that was not flowery or boring.

While it is a tough story to read, I’m positive it was a worse story to experience. Ms. Lindhout tells the tale in away that expresses the horror without leaving you devastated. She leaves you with the same hope that she managed to carry even when her situation was entirely hopeless.

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