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I Choose To Live Paperback – 16 Jan 2006

36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Virago; New Ed edition (16 Jan. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844082687
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844082681
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.7 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 381,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A moving tale of courage and survival. Extraordinary strength ... one comes away from her book shocked, angered and deeply humbled (Mail Like the scariest fairy tales, it involves a little girl, a secret dungeon and a monster. But it is not a fairy tale: it is true . . . I have never read a more harrowing book. . . unbearable were it not for the character - brave, difficult, honest an)

Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday ('A compelling memoir... a bold and dignified book')

Observer ('Here is a book that refuses to cushion the reader with assurances of redemption and happily-ever-after - it is primarily written not as an aid to healing, but a call for justice. . . One comes away from her book shocked, angered and deeply humbled')

Mail ('direct, unpretentious, chatty, feet-on-the-ground. Sometimes shockingly so')

Book Description

On May 28th, 1996, Sabine Dardenne, twelve years old, was kidnapped by Marc Dutroux, a paedophile and multiple offender who had already raped other young girls in Belgium.

I Choose to Live is her testimony - both courageous and uplifting.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Stracs VINE VOICE on 3 May 2005
Format: Hardcover
"I Choose to Live" is a very apt title for this book by Sabine Dardenne about her 80 days as a twelve year old held captive by Marc Dutroux, Belgium's notorious paedophile. Sabine describes her ordeal at Dutroux's hands pretty graphically, though understandably holds back on the worst of what happened to her. The conditions she describes being held in are almost unbelievable, and would not be believed if written in fiction. Sabine describes the events she was forced to go through with tremendous courage and really opens your eyes as to just what horrors some people are capable of.
Her perspective is almost unique, from the point of view that very few girls survive this sort of ordeal, and so you really get a sense of what it is like to be the victim in such a crime. Too often books focus on the perpetraitor, but here Sabine speaks for all victims of sex crimes and this makes the piece very moving.
Equally interesting is the events that happened after her rescue - how she dealt with her ordeal, the break up of her family, her treatment by the media and those whose daughters were killed by Dutroux, her friendship with her fellow cative Laetitia Dehlez and the trial. All these are described in detail and merely add to the respect you already feel for a person who has come through all this trauma sane. It is fascinating to see the differences between the Belgian legal system and our own. Sabine also gives her opinion on the idea Dutroux was merely a middle man in a large paedophile ring which are also fascinating to read.
I can't say I enjoyed this book, as the subject matter is horrendous. I also think it lost a little of it's power in translation and at times the chronlogy is a bit muddled and hard to follow. However, this is still an important and worthwile read, and I have a hgue admiration for it's tremendously brave author.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 May 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a dignified account of the horrendous kidnapping and abuse 12 year old Sabine Dardenne suffered for 80 days in 1996 and the subsequent trial in 2004 of her kidnapper and rapist. The strength of a young girl to come through such a horrendous ordeal unbroken and unbowed is incredible and I salute her.
The book itself is not enjoyable due to the nature of it. At times I forgot that this was a real life account, so unbelievable and awful were the things Sabine and the other girls endured. However, despite the nature of it I found it hard to put down. It was captivating and I was constantly amazed how a 12 year old girl survived such a traumatic event.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 May 2005
Format: Hardcover
I really was not sure what to expect from this book. Would it be too horrific to read I wondered?
What I found was an extremely courageous woman that told her story with heart and determination.
She should hold her head up high and walk with a sure step in society, she has been through enough. This book will tell you all, it is emotional, sad and at times fill you with the anger I am sure she felt. High kudo's for this book, I hope it will be a top 10 seller.
Other reads I have found of late that are emotional as well- Nightmares Echo, Little Prisoner and Glass Castle. All superb writing
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peter Durward Harris #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 12 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
Belgium became the focus of international attention in the nineties because of one psychopath's notorious crimes against children. The book is not about his life, crimes and trial in general (look elsewhere for such a book), but it is the personal story of one victim who somehow survived his kidnap and abuse.

Sabine Dardenne spent eighty days in his captivity and has had to live with the consequent public and media attention in the years since. Sabine's book explains some things that other books could not cover, since only she and the psychopath knew the facts. Even things that can be explained elsewhere come from a different perspective. While much here is deeply disturbing, Sabine's survival and return to something like a normal life should act as an inspiration to us all.

Sabine wrote the book partly in the hope that people would stop giving her strange looks or asking her questions about the case. Even more important to Sabine, she wrote the book in the hope that politicians, lawyers and judges would tighten their policies on psychopaths and paedophiles, especially when considering early release from prison. Sabine's captor already had a long criminal record and he'd been given early release for good behavior prior to his series of kidnaps. Whether this book achieves any or all of those objectives, only time will tell. Nevertheless, Sabine is determined to put the past behind her and lead as normal a life as possible.

Sabine tells us the harrowing story of her time in captivity and the abuse she suffered. A novelist might go into graphic detail to dramatize the events, but while Sabine makes it very clear what took place, she avoids any more detail than is absolutely necessary. Sabine wanted no drama, the detail being too painful and too personal.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Woodley on 15 July 2007
Format: Paperback
While reading this, and afterward, I just wanted to say to Sabine - Forgive Yourself! You are not the author of anyone elses fate. In now way were the author of anyone elses fate - Laetitia was not Kidnapped because of what you said. Dutroux was a horrendous excuse for a human being and did what he wanted with no reference to anyone elses needs. Your 12 year old terror and loneliness was just another excuse to weave a tale of guilt around you!

This is the bare and honest story of Sabine Dardenne, one of two survivors of Belgian paedophile, Marc Dutroux. She spent 80 days in his captivity, and while the details are (thankfully) not given in detail, the sheer horror of being a 12 year old child and subjected to the physical and emotional torment she suffered is enough to horrify.

Sabine was snatched off the street by Dutroux, the Slug as she later calls him, and his wife. That a woman with children could be complicit in this appalls me but she was responsible for at least two earlier deaths of young children kidnapped by Dutroux when she failed to feed them. But Sabine was not aware of this.

Taken by Dutroux she was forced to live in a small cell and basement, eat horrendous food, and assaulted by him. She was not allowed to wash often nor was her cell or environment kept clean so she gradually became more and more unkempt. Once when Dutroux went away there was a power cut, trapped in her stinking cell, 6 feet by 3 feet wide and not tall enough for a short 12 year old to stand up in. She panicked, her only light and ventilation failed - a 12 year old girl alone. Luckily it came on again shortly afterwards.

In her loneliness and desparation she wrote long letters to her mother.
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