I’ve been completely captivated/disturbed by the Cleveland kidnapping stories this week. My parents get a lot of American news channels, and this story is so sensational anyway, that it seems to be on TV all the time. It’s horrifying. Those girls are around my age and it just completely breaks my heart how much freedom was taken away from them.
One thought I keep coming back to is that the girls in Cleveland must be made of pretty tough stuff. This reminded me of Jaycee Dugard – she’s made of pretty tough stuff too. Against my better judgement, I bought A Stolen Life on my Kindle. And then, in a move that displays supremely terrible decision-making, I decided to read it before bed.
While this was a very bad idea if, like me, you are a person who values peaceful sleep without nightmares, this little book is a powerful and moving read. It is graphic, and there are many recollections that are very, very upsetting. Like I said, I didn’t sleep very much last night, and I cried buckets while I read it. But as I’ve said before, good books don’t have to be happy. The best books stay with you. And this one certainly does.
That’s not to say that there aren’t flaws with A Stolen Life. There are lengthy sections taken from young teenage Dugard’s diary in which she expresses her heartfelt love for a kitten, for example. And the book focuses heavily on her earlier years in captivity, at the expense of her later experiences as a mother. Because she seems to draw on her motherhood as a source of strength and resilience, it would have been interesting to see more about this part of her life. But this is Dugard’s story told in Dugard’s voice, so who am I to say what is important to reveal?
A Stolen Life isn’t a light read, although it is short. I finished the whole thing in just a couple of hours. But it will stay with me for days.