Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Stolen Life - Jaycee Dugard (Audio)

There probably isn't a living breathing adult in the US who hasn't heard of Jaycee Dugard.  Her story is one that defies logic, and toys with one's emotions, even from the arm's-length perspective of someone watching the evening news.


In 1991, Jaycee, 11 years old, was kidnapped while walking home from school.  She literally disappeared from the face of the earth...no clues, no body, no ransom note.  After time passed, it had to be assumed that she was dead.  Through a series of bizarre events, she was discovered alive but held physically and emotionally captive by a couple named Phillip and Nancy Garrido for 18 years.  Jaycee had given birth to two children fathered by Phillip, aged 11 and 15.  


It is the kind of story that makes you shake your head, and leaves you with so many questions.  Why didn't she try to escape?  How could another woman be accessory to this kind of abuse to a little girl? What is Jaycee's state of mind after suffering like that for 18 years?  What kind of horrors must she have endured?  Will she ever be normal again?  


I did not watch Jaycee's interview with Diane Sawyer or other various appearances that she made.  I can't say why.  I'm just not sure I wanted to hear what happened, having a young daughter myself.  I just wasn't ready.  But recently, I began hearing about this memoir that Jaycee had written, and felt like the time was right now, two years later.


Synopsis:  In what is obviously an effort to exorcise her demons, Jaycee reveals to us exactly what happened to her, starting with the day she was abducted.  Some of the recollections come from memory, some from a journal she kept during her captivity.  She relives the repeated rapes starting when she was 11, the "runs" where Phillip would get high on drugs and engage in roll play and bizarre sex acts with Jaycee for days straight.  She talks of his mental illness, and her reliance upon him and his wife for all of her needs, believing she would not be able to survive in the world on her own.        


  
For a little girl who had her youth snatched from her in the worst possible way, Jaycee delivers her story in a very matter-of-fact tone, with a clear vision and belief in herself.  She found strength in thinking of her mother, in small pets that she would keep, and her two daughters.  Throughout her story, she will stop at times and share a reflection on a particular event that she has just talked about or a certain emotion, demonstrating just how far she has come in understanding herself and her captors' derangement.


Jaycee wraps up her story with her rescue and recovery.  It is the reader's reward for struggling through the horrors of Jaycee's 18 years in captivity.  This is one story with a happy ending.


My thoughts:  Whether you are a fan of memoirs or not, this is one that you must read.  It is maddening to listen to what these two animals did to this sweet little girl.  When Jaycee explains that Phillip justifies this actions by saying that she (Jaycee) is helping him fix his sexual problems, and that she is keeping him from hurting other girls, I wanted to get a baseball bat and bludgeon him.  He deserves every minute of the 431 years of prison he was sentenced.  His wife is no better, in my opinion, even though she never sexually molested Jaycee.      

But despite the horror I experienced in listening to what Jaycee endured, I was also filled with admiration and wonder at how well-adjusted she is.  She is an honest, and strong and incredibly brave young woman.  It is this fierceness of spirit that you sometimes see in those who survived the Holocaust...a steel will.  It fills me with joy to hear that she is receiving therapy (some of it taking place on a horse farm and involves working with animals).  


While listening to this audio, I was reminded over and over again of one of my favorite books from a couple of years ago, "Room", which was published after Jaycee's rescue, but before the details became public.  It is eerie how similar the stories were.


Jaycee's writing is not literary, it is simple, and what you would expect from a young woman whose schooling only went through 5th grade.    What matters is that her words come from the heart.




A few words about the audio production:  In another act of bravery, Jaycee chose to narrate this book herself.  She did an excellent job, and while she kept her emotions in check, you could hear the slight tremor in her voice when she spoke of certain things, as well as a steely resolve.  I am very appreciative that she made this decision, as I believe it lent the story that tiny little extra something.


4.5 out of 5 stars
   

20 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I have read a lot about this memoir but just don't know if I'm strong enough to listen to it. Just thinking about what she went through makes my stomach hurt.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I'm just not strong enough to listen to or read this one. I don't think. The idea of children being harmed is so upsetting to me that it rips me apart. When the news first came out, I had a very difficult time watching the news and I agree with you that these maniacs deserve every bit of time in prison. These are horrid individuals that I just don't believe therapy and prison time can ever correct. My thoughts go out to Jaycee Dugard for even being able to write the story, much less narrate the audio herself. What a hero she is!

Jeane said...

I've heard of this memoir before and I am curious to read it someday, but not yet. Every time I read a review of it I think: how could that creep's wife go along with this? awful.

Jenny said...

I think I'm going to listen to this on audio soon. I did watch her interview with Diane Sawyer and I am in awe at how resilient she is.

Anita said...

I listened to this audio last month too, and have a review to post, but thinking I might hold it until Audio Week.
I was amazed that she did the audio herself, it was such a raw story, and it was at times hard to listen to. It seems she's had a wonderful therapist and has come out with a very optimistic life outlook.
Great Review Sandy

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I couldn't read this one either, no matter how much I may want to know about it!

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I want to read this...but like everyone else, I'm scared of it. I know I can't listen to it. I am a non-violent person, but I struggle with my violent personality when evil people like these freaks of nature harm children. Like you, I'm ready to get out the baseball bat.

Zibilee said...

I borrowed this one from you, and need to listen to it soon, but like others, I am scared to hear about the violence and abuse that she suffered. It seems so alien and strange that two people could have done this to a young girl, and it just makes me feel sick. I agree though, she is incredibly brave, and I admire her for the strength and will that she has. It's probably a book that would make me cry, but I am going to listen to it at some point. Very poignant review today. Such a terrible story.

Ti said...

The interview was very tough to listen to, but more so because you could just hear the pain in the mom's voice. Jaycee stayed pretty positive given what happened to her. I remember thinking, "God, that girl has survived a lot." It angered me when the mom spoke of how she lost so many years with her daughter. She lost her entire childhood but so did the mom. I seriously don't know how the mom did not show-up with a gun at the courthouse!

Marie said...

wow. i just don't know what else to say.

softdrink said...

Holy cow...it takes a lot of guts to narrate your own story of abduction and rape!

Julie P. said...

All I can say is wow! I think I'm going to listen to this one next.

Trisha said...

Sounds painful. Very painful.

Jenners said...

I can't imagine what it takes to get through something like that and come out whole (or almost whole … I'm sure she has tons of issues -- who wouldn't?) It does sound like a real-life version of ROOM. Was ROOM based on this do you know? I can't quite imagine listening to this on audio though. I think I would need the distance of reading it in print. I'm so glad there was a happy ending to this one. There so rarely are.

Anonymous said...

I've just Today checked out from my local library, started reading, thinking I'd read a few pages (it's my day off) and ended up finishing her Memoir, "A life stolen" In the same day.(about 30 mins ago) That's new for me since I can usually make books last me a week+..... I'd like to say it was a good book, and in some ways it was. But it took a hard stomach to get through a lot of it. It's her own words and experiences, pics, journal entries, everything. I do believe It is a part of Jaycee Dugard's healing, and if you're interested in ever knowing the "Real" horror story that was her life, I would say read this...... I didn't know exactly what I was getting myself into as far as this book goes, I just knew I had heard bits and pieces of what she had to endure... via the media.. She is an incredible writer, and has a life experience that is rare to a lot of us, and especially to make it out of alive. She's an amazing Woman, Mother, caretaker, especially after everything she has, and hasn't gotten to experience.... Unbelievable story... I'd say a must read for those of you that can stomach it.

Bybee said...

It was a very difficult read, and very well done.

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

SUCH an amazing story. This woman is my hero. What she's been through is something we cannot even imagine, yet she continues to be a positive force in the world and a wonderful mother to her daughters. I loved every minute I spent with Jaycee, even though her story is so difficult to listen to, it needed to be told. And kudos to her for being brave enough to do it herself.

Anna said...

It was so hard for me to read this book, and I don't think I could have listened to her tell her story. The only good thing is that her story is one of hope.

Melissa said...

Even though I know her story (like you said, who doesn't), I never watched her interviews either. I love that she narrated it herself. Even though that must have been very hard, I'm not sure how you could hand something like this off to someone else.

Kathleen said...

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and this case was obviously huge news here. I am in awe of how she has recovered and healed from her experience. I read the book and it made me so sad but so hopeful at the same time.