Monday, September 5, 2011

A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard

A Stolen Life: A Memoir
Author: Jaycee Dugard
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: July 12, 2011
Hardcover: 268 pages
Source: borrowed from library

My Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (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.

My Thoughts: This was such a haunting book and one that I know will be difficult to right a review for. I want to preface my thoughts with this: I do not think that I can truly rate this book. For me to rate this book is to rate Jaycee Dugard's experience and it is something that I cannot even begin to fathom. What happened to her is horrible and it is amazing that she was finally found after 18 years. Her story is one that no one can judge because being in her shoes would be difficult for anybody to try and remember and put down on paper.

Jaycee does a great job of going back to when she is a child. The book is chronological, beginning with Jaycee getting ready for school on that day she was kidnapped and up to the present day. Her writing is so clear at the beginning and it's horrifying to read about her abduction and when you remember that this isn't a work of fiction but a true story, it will break your heart. She tells about her first few days in Phillip and Nancy Garrido's home. She does so with amazing objectivity considering what they did to her. She constantly states that she is not filled with hate toward her captors. It's this objectivity that keeps the story moving and prevents it from dragging. It would be easy for her to dwell on how awful this was and how unfair it was that this happen to her and her daughters, but she doesn't.

Jaycee wrote this book reflecting back on specific moments during her capture and at the end of the chapters, has her reflections. She looks back on what these experiences mean to her now. These reflections really allow you to enter her thoughts and understand a bit of what she experienced. She goes all the way up to the present day, talking about her therapy sessions and how she is acclimating back into society. There are so many things that we do that Jaycee was afraid to do after she was found: pumping gas was terrifying because she was nervous that she was doing it wrong and someone would come up and yell at her. It's startling reading these parts and realizing what a grip the Garrido's had on her.

The one thing that I didn't like about this book was that as time progressed, Jaycee's writing seemed to become more jumpy. It jumped between what was happening in the backyard to the parole office to her current day therapy. As I stated at the beginning of my review, it's hard for me to review this book because this isn't a work of fiction, this was something that someone actually had to live through. I would imagine that towards the end of her captivity, it would seem that everything was jumping around because the routine that she had was disturbed.

This book is haunting and uplifting. To read about what she experienced is unreal and it's difficult to read at times because you cannot fathom an adult doing this to a little girl. I finished this book feeling happy for Jaycee and her girls, knowing that they are doing well and that she survived such an ordeal when it would have been so easy to give up.


  1. I heard Jaycee's story all over the news when she was found and I am so happy that she was and has taken the steps to recovering her sense of self that she has. She is an admirable woman.

  2. Someone at work was talking about this today. Someone lent it to her on holiday but she couldn't get past the third chapter because she found it so upsetting. I don't think it would be one I would want to read, but I'm glad to hear Jaycee is doing ok.