Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review - A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard

Title: A Stolen Life: A Memoir
Author: Jaycee Dugard  
Year: 2011
Page: 268
Genre: Non-Fiction - Memoir

FTC Disclosure: Borrowed from the library

Summary (from
In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.
For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.

For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.

On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.

A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.

First Sentence:
Let's get one thing straight!

My Thoughts:
  • I wasn't living in the US when Jaycee went missing, so I wasn't aware of the news. However, I was living in the US when she was found, and I learned about her abduction then. When I found out she had written a book, I knew I had to read it - talk about a story stranger than fiction!
  • The book is not for the faint of heart - especially the first part of the book. It gave details, a lot of details, of what she went through. It would definitely be too graphic for some, especially given that this happened to a real person, and not a made up story. What made it more shocking was that she was written from her 11 yeas old perspective in the beginning of the book. She was scared and confused and didn't quite know what was going on. She didn't even know what rape meant. Could you imagine?
  • She was very honest, e.g., she said she didn't feel loved by her stepfather or her biological father. 
  • I appreciated that in the beginning of the book, she "warned" the readers that the book might be jumping all over the place because she just wrote what she thought of. Usually I didn't quite like this writing style as I prefer a more linear timeline, but I was prepared, and it wasn't too confusing to follow. Even if it was confusing, well, she had a confusing life, to put it mildly.
  • Each chapter, she'd talk about her past, then it ended with a "reflection" passage from her current state of mind. It was quite introspective.
  • She also talked about why she did not try to escape [SPOILER] because she feared her daughters would be kidnapped if she was out in the big world, but she at least knew they would be safe in the backyard in the kidnappers' house... which was a bit ironic... [/SPOILER]
  • The book also talked about the therapy she received after she was found - a therapy that she found very helpful for her and her daughters, especially with the animal therapy as she loves animals. The therapist used her interaction with the animals to guide her to embrace her new found freedom
  • She didn't go into a lot of how the kidnapper Philip Garrido was arrested - [SPOILER] just that for some reasons he decided to bring the 'whole family' (His wife Nancy, Jacyee and Jaycee's 2 daughters) when he had to report to parole, and then somehow he just confessed? I had to google to find out exactly what happened. I guess from Jacyee's perspective, she probably didn't know much if she was in another room. [/SPOILER]
  • The story was a bit repetitive at times. Though it just drove home what a horrific life Jaycee had had prior to her escape. The title, A Stolen Life, couldn't have described it better.


When I don't dare think, I dare to dream. (p62)

Overall Rating:

4 Stars. I couldn't imagine what she went through.

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  1. Holy shit is the only thing I can think of to say. I had no idea this was a memoir, I remember little bits of this but I'm not from the US either.

    I will read this also. Sounds like I will get passed the repetitive part.

  2. I wish I hadn't read ROOM, then I would want to read this one. I did read her story on Wiki, and it's pretty terrifying - her whole experience.

  3. @Marce - yeah it just came out a couple of months ago. Though it seemed kinda weird that in a short period of time, a lot of girls who had been missing were found (e.g. Elizabeth Smart was another one). I think since she made it clear from the beginning that the story may jump all over the place, or may get a bit repetitive, I was prepared so it wasn't as bad.

    @Aths - When I read Room, I was thinking more of that Austrian case for some reason, instead of this one, maybe because of the news at that time. This book is different from Room though. I guess this would be more like ma's story in Room?

  4. As much as I love memoirs, I've never been drawn to the sort of current events types of memoirs. I heard about this one, but never really was curious bout reading it... I'm not sure why. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed it -- sounds difficult to read, but interesting too.

  5. Awesome review.
    I must admit I'm super intrigued by her tale.
    Thanks for the spoiler about her not wanting her own daughters kidnapped.

  6. @Kim - You know, I never thought that there are so many different types of memoirs there are! I guess I do like this type of memoir more so than stunt memoir, which I know you really like. But I am glad there are so many different type of books out there for all of us!

    @Juju - I guess, when we read the news article, we had some idea what she went through, at least by "facts". But it's just more heartbreaking to read when she told it. I really just can't imagine what she went through.