Check out my book review of A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard.
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.
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 check the backyard. After the Garridos started getting brave enough to let Jaycee and her children in their house, Jaycee 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.
Jaycee Dugard should be an inspiration to everyone. Even through everything that happened to her, she never gave up hope 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.