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A House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda…
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A House in the Sky: A Memoir

by Amanda Lindhout, Sara Corbett

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
4.25 stars

In 2008, Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout travelled to Somalia with Australian photographer, Nigel Brennen. While there, they (along with 3 Somalian escorts) were kidnapped and held for ransom. Amanda and Nigel were held for over a year before their families, with the help of a professional negotiator, came up with part of the money the kidnappers had originally asked for to get them released.

Amanda not only tells her story in the book; she narrates the audio. As the book was coming close to the end, I marveled that she was not only able to write her story, but she is able to narrate it! The book started a bit slower, as she told of her life growing up in Alberta, Canada (fairly local to me!), before she caught the “travel bug” and she wanted to travel all over. She tells stories of some of the places she travelled before deciding to head into Somalia to hopefully write a story to “make” her career. But, the pace of the book just picks up more and more as the book goes on.

At the start of the book, I was ready to give it 3.5 stars, but it quickly went up to 4 stars. At the end I might have given 4.5 stars, but I wanted to take the entire book in account for my rating and settled on 4.25, as I feel like it does deserve higher than 4. ( )
  LibraryCin | Sep 22, 2017 |
This book is on the CBC list of 100 True Stories that Make You Proud to Be Canadian. One of the authors, Amanda Lindhout, is a Canadian who was held for 460 days in Somalia beginning in August 2008. She was subjected to starvation, rape, torture while her captors negotiated for ransom money from her family and that of her fellow captive, Nigel Brennan. The Canadian government refused to pay ransom money and their negotiators advised Lindhout's family not to pay any either. Eventually Lindhout's and Brennan's families raised enough money to allow a private firm to negotiate their release. In part, Amanda survived by going to her "house in the sky" in her mind whenever she was raped or tortured. Amazingly, Lindhout has started a charity that gives aid to Somalis both inside Somalia and in other countries. She has also stated that she has forgiven the people who took her captive and abused her. She may finally get to face one of them in court. The man she knew as Adam, who was the chief negotiator, was arrested when he came to Canada and his trial should occur shortly.

This is one of those books that make you ask yourself "What would I do in these circumstances?" I'm pretty sure I would not have lasted being captive for any length of time and, if I did last, I'm pretty sure I would be mentally traumatized for the rest of my life. Lindhout has had treatment for Post-traumatic Stress but in the interviews I have seen of her she seems to be centered and focused on bringing something good out of this horrific experience. ( )
  gypsysmom | Sep 12, 2017 |
Canadian Amanda Lindhout was the typical young person of her day, backpacking as many countries as possible, in her case, inspired by reading thrift store copies of National Geographic. She earned money to pay for the travels from waitressing tips, working to save enough to travel and returning to work when funds were depleted. When she decided to try and earn her way as a freelance journalist - meaning without qualifications or affiliations - she lost carefree backpacker status and entered "the most dangerous place in the world" ignoring the risks. She admitted that it was naive. She and her photographer partner were captured after just three days. What followed was 460 days of being brutalized and tortured, with more severity for Lindhout, because she was a woman. Her ability to to mentally remove herself from the savage atrocities by building an imaginary house in the sky and other such mind games helped her through the nightmare. Her experiences in this book helps to partly understand the mindset of the captors although it’s a long way from understanding how a group of men can justify these actions. She is to be thoroughly praised for her sense of forgiveness and for creating the Global Enrichment Foundation offering, among other benefits, university scholarships to women in Somalia. I'm sure her recovery will require a lifetime but Lindhout shows a capacity for the human spirit that is inspirational.

It is difficult to rate memoirs at the best of times and in this case more so because of the subject matter. The second half of the book relates the time she was held hostage and is well-written without becoming emotional or sentimental in any way. However, the first half of the book describing the minutiae of early travels was a tad long. ( )
2 vote VivienneR | Aug 6, 2016 |
In 2008, Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout and her friend Nigel Brennan were kidnapped in Somalia and held for ransom. In keeping with the Canadian government’s refusal to pay the ransom, the Lindhout and Brennan families raised the money and with the help of a private security firm, secured their release fifteen months later. Amanda’s story of solitary confinement, torture, starvation, psychological abuse, and rape at the hands of her Muslim captors could have resulted in a depressing read, but her ability to escape to her “house in the sky” allowed her to endure. ( )
  ShelleyAlberta | Jun 14, 2016 |
I read this book in 2 days - I couldn't put it down - and no one is more surprised than me. the book had been on my radar, but at the bottom of my list. I expected to be annoyed by Amanda, to feel that although what happened to her certainly wasn't her fault, that she had made a series of poor choices... I could not have been more wrong. by the time she got to Somalia, she was a seasoned traveler - naive maybe, but making choices I found reasonable, and taking security precautions. she didn't come across as a voyeur or missionary or someone trying to profit off of others misfortune; she was likeable, a lover of travel and adventure , trying to reinvent herself as a photographer - someone I would be more than a bit jealous of. once captured, the strength she showed is unfathomable, and her story is heartbreaking and mesmerizing. ( )
  AmyCahillane | Feb 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
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Amanda Lindhoutprimary authorall editionscalculated
Corbett, Saramain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
In the burned house I am eating breakfast. You understand: there is no house, there is no breakfast, yet here I am.

- Margaret Atwood, from "Morning in the Burned House"
Dedication
For my mom and two dads & Katherine Porterfield
First words
Prologue --- We named the houses they put us in.
When I was a girl, I trusted what I knew about the world.
Quotations
I'd like to say that I hesitated before heading into Somali, but I didn't. If anything, my experiences had taught me that while terror and strife hogged the international headlines, there was always, --- really, truly always ---- something more hopeful and humane running along-side it. In every country, in every city, on every block, you'd find parents who loved their kids, neighbors who looked after one another, children ready to play. Surely, I thought, I'd find stories worth telling.
With this breath, I choose peace. With ths breath, I choose freedom.
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"The spectacularly dramatic memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her from rural Canada to imperiled and dangerous countries on every continent, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity in Somalia--a story of courage, resilience, and extraordinary grace.At the age of eighteen, Amanda Lindhout moved from her hardscrabble Alberta hometown to the big city--Calgary--and worked as a cocktail waitress, saving her tips so she could travel the globe. As a child, she escaped a violent household by paging through National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. Now she would see those places for real. She backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each experience, went on to travel solo across Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a TV reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia--"the most dangerous place on earth"--to report on the fighting there. On her fourth day in the country, she and her photojournalist companion were abducted. An astoundingly intimate and harrowing account of Lindhout's fifteen months as a captive, A House in the Sky illuminates the psychology, motivations, and desperate extremism of her young guards and the men in charge of them. She is kept in chains, nearly starved, and subjected to unthinkable abuse. She survives by imagining herself in a "house in the sky," looking down at the woman shackled below, and finding strength and hope in the power of her own mind. Lindhout's decision, upon her release, to counter the violence she endured by founding an organization to help the Somali people rebuild their country through education is a wrenching testament to the capacity of the human spirit and an astonishing portrait of the power of compassion and forgiveness"--"The spectacularly dramatic and redemptive memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her to the world's most imperiled and perilous countries, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity--a beautifully written story of courage, resilience, and grace. At the age of eighteen, Amanda Lindhout moved from her hardscrabble hometown to the big city and worked as a cocktail waitress, saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia--"the most dangerous place on earth"--to report on the fighting there. On her fourth day in the country, she and her photojournalist companion were abducted. A House in the Sky illuminates the psychology, motivations, and desperate extremism of Lindhout's young guards and the men in charge of them. She is kept in chains, nearly starved, and subjected to horrific abuse. She survives by imagining herself in a "house in the sky," finding strength and hope in the power of her own mind. Lindhout's decision to counter the violence she endured by founding an organization to help educate Somali people women is a moving testament to the power of compassion and forgiveness"--… (more)

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