Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard: Book Review

I haven't done book reviews in a long time and I met my New Years Resolution goal ... I've read 11 books!  Since I last did a review, I've read Baby Proof, Sex and the City, Carrie Diaries, Summer and the City, Freedom, AND most recently, A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard.

One of these days, I MIGHT get around to reviewing the other books.  I DO want to add... Summer and the City was my overall favorite book out of the above mentioned list.  It was cute, whimsical, simple, and yet thought provoking.  Really enjoyable.

Right after I read that book, I jumped into A Stolen Life.

I'm sure you all know the story of Jaycee Dugard.  She was kidnapped at the age of 11 and held in captivity for 19 years.  It's VERY difficult to give this a review because it's the story of her LIFE and so what if I wanted to read less of one area and more of another?  This was HER choice and nobody can say what she should have or should not have written.  I will try to be as neutral as possible while most importantly stating that this woman is one of the most remarkable women I have ever heard of.

A Stolen Life
By: Jaycee Dugard
Grade: I don't feel right grading this book...she flat out gets an A+ for bravery.

How Long did it Take to Read: I read this book in about a week.  It actually isn't THAT short but I just could NOT put it down!  I wanted to read how she prevailed through everything that he put her through.  I wanted to try to understand what she had been through.  Again, she was remarkable. 

why I Read it:  This is a good question ... it's difficult to WANT to read about how she was sexually abused for 24 hours STRAIGHT sometimes.  It's difficult to WANT to read about how she was tied up for DAYS and had to pee in to a bucket that usually was full of feces.  But honestly what I wanted to read about?  Her role as a mother.  I wanted to see how she made it.  How did she know to teach her children math, social studies, science, and english?  She had a FIFTH grade education!  I wanted to read about the legal process and how 60 parole visitors did not catch her.  That was a BIG part of it too ... the lawyer and the educator in me wanted to read those things.

Plot: Jaycee starts the book off by writing about her life BEFORE the kidnapping.  She mentions things that SEEMED like a big deal BEFORE it happened. How trivial things would seem afterwards huh?  After that, she goes through her 19 years of captivity.  There are quite a few journal entries from her stay there.  The MAIN thing she focuses on?  What really helped her through these years?  Her pets!  She loves kittens and although the Garrido's purposefully kept killing the animals that Jaycee adored, she would get so attached to them...probably because these animals were the only true companions she had for 19 years.

At the end:  At the end of the book, I finished it feeling angry with the world.  Angry that for some reason we decide the Garrido's should still be alive.  We let men like this go out on the streets and do NOTHING about truly checking up on them.  I finished this book furious with the legal system.  Furious that nobody caught this girl until she had lost so much of her life.  Garrido had to wear an ankle monitor for YEARS during her captivity.  The monitor shows that he went into the "secret" backyard where Jaycee was multiple times a day ... yet out of the 60 parole visits, they NEVER went to check in the backyard.  It's purely disgusting.  So yes, that's the way I felt.  I was angry and SO upset for this girl and her 2 daughters.  By the way... Jaycee?  She specifically says she doesn't hate him.  She is, like I've said multiple times, remarkable.  She doesn't waste her time with those kinds of feelings because she says that would waste time.  I could learn things from Jaycee.  I think everyone could. 

Why no grade:  Jaycee wrote what SHE wanted to write.  Who am I to say that she should have written about how much of an ass this guy was?  She didn't write much about the education lessons that she taught to her daughters, but that's probably because to her that was motherly instinct and nothing interesting to write about (obviously, I disagree.  She's fascinatingly intelligent to have had the instinct to look up lessons for her girls until they reached the age of 15).  She barely talked about the parole officers reckless disregard for their duty.  But like I said, she said it's a waste of time to focus on what "could have been."  Therefore, I can simply say this ... i am GLAD I read it.  I am GLAD there is someone as strong as her out there talking about what happened.  Good for her.  Truly inspiring.


  1. I have not read her book. But I did see her interview with Diane Sawyer. I was in awe of her. I can't imagine having her bravery and enduring what she did. Part of me doesn't want to read the book, but another part of me feels like we all should. Because if that's what she endured, we can certainly put ourselves in her shoes for a read. Thanks for the review.

  2. I don't think I could handle it emotionally. Did you cry a lot?

  3. Wow. This had to have been a tough read. I think I should read it though. As part of my New Year's Resolutions I was going to post about strong women. She belongs at the top of the list. Thanks for the review.
    Stopping in from LBS.

  4. I saw the interview, which inspired me to read the book. Very intense, but I can't recommend it more. Had to read in stages because of the subject matter, but it is still a fast read.

  5. excellent review. I am reading this book now