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A House in the Sky Paperback – 17 Jun 2014
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"Exquisitely told...[A House in the Sky] is much more than a gonzo adventure tale gone awry--it's a young woman's harrowing coming-of-age story and an extraordinary narrative of forgiveness and spiritual triumph....There's no self-pity or grandiosity in these pages. In the cleanest prose, she and Corbett allow events both horrific and absurd...to unfold on their own. Lindhout's resilience transforms the story from a litany of horrors into a humbling encounter with the human spirit."--Eliza Griswold "The New York Times Book Review "
"Lindhout manages to tell her story and to transcend it. Her account stands as a nonfiction companion to Emma Donoghue's shattering, haunting novel about captivity, Room."--Emily Bazelon "Slate "
"A poetic, profound, and thrilling exploration of one woman's misadventure set against the backdrop of global terrorism...Elegant and evocative."--Rebecca Johnson "Vogue "
"A great book...The lesson [Amanda Lindhout] taught me and others who know this remarkable young woman is: What matters is not how you got there, but what you do once you've arrived."--Robert Draper "ELLE "
"[A] harrowing, beautifully written memoir....The wide-eyed optimism and unflappable determination that led [Amanda Lindhout] to danger also kept her alive...A brave, compassionate and inspiring triumph."--Korina Lopez "USA Today (4-star review) "
"Keenly observed and sprinkled with arresting details, A House in the Sky is more than one woman's heartbreaking tale of captivity. The book sheds light on a conflict area not often painted with nuance. It dares to explore the outer reaches of human empathy. A stunning, haunting, and redemptive read, Lindhout's story is one that stays with you long after the book has been closed."--Grace Bello "The Christian Science Monitor "
"[A] remarkably keen-eyed, honest, and radiant memoir...Moving and informative reading for everyone."--Barbara Hoffert "Library Journal "
"Writing with immediacy and urgency, Lindhout and Corbett recount the horrific ordeal in crisp, frank, evocative prose. But what readers will walk away with is an admiration for Lindhout's deep reserves of courage under unimaginable circumstances."--Kristine Huntley "Booklist (starred review) "
"A vivid and moving account of how Amanda kept alive the inner light and the spirit of forgiveness even as she found herself in the heart of darkness."--Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now and A New Earth
"A House in the Sky is a stunning story of strength and survival. It is sometimes brutal, but always beautiful as Amanda Lindhout discovers that in a fight for her life, her most powerful weapons are hope and compassion."--Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle and The Silver Star
About the Author
Amanda Lindhout is the founder of the Global Enrichment Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports development, aid, and education initiatives in Somalia and Kenya. For more information, visit AmandaLindhout.com and GlobalEnrichmentFoundation.com.
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The narrative describes her tortuous ordeal at the hands of her captors and is highly descriptive of her various emotional states as she struggles to survive the mostly unremitting brutality and inhumane treatment she receives over many months of captivity.
It is unquestionably a very harrowing account and is frequently deeply disturbing to read.
However, although the book is well-written, it lacks any indication that Ms Lindhout appreciated, or understood the vile nature of the fundamental religious beliefs which underpinned the actions of her captors. There is very little here by way of critical analysis, or indeed condemnation of the poisonous nature of religious fanaticism. I was constantly waiting for some considered judgement of the faith, which inspired the barbaric actions of her jailers, but none was forthcoming. This was both disappointing and worrying, as it passed up an opportunity to condemn the bronze-age desert beliefs which played such a central part in her ordeal.
I hope that in the future Ms Lindhout is more circumspect in choosing which countries to visit and that she continues to recover, and perhaps, reflect upon the true nature of the religion which was responsible for her appalling imprisonment and torture.
I wish her well.
Amanda Lindhout is from Alberta, Canada. As a young child living in a turbulent household, she collected and cashed in bottles. And what did she spend her money on? Old National Geographic magazines. Amanda escaped into the pages,dreaming of one day visiting the exotic places pictured.
At nineteen she has saved enough money from waitressing to make those dreams a reality. Her first trip abroad is to Venezuela.
"I had seen this place in the magazine, and now we were here, lost in it. It was a small truth affirmed. And it was all I needed to keep going."
Lindhout repeats the cycle, earning, then travelling. She visits most of Latin America, India, Burma, Ethiopia, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan and dozens more. Her joy in exploring and experiencing new places and people is tangible. But, each trip she takes is a little further off the beaten path. And finally, she's travelling to some of the most war torn countries in the world.
In Kabul, Afghanistan she begins a career as a fledgling freelance /journalist/photojournalist - with no formal training, associations or contacts. With some success under her belt, she heads next to Baghdad, Iraq to work as a reporter for Iran's Press TV. Moving on from there she decides to head to Mogadishu, Somalia in 2008 - bigger stories might help her career take off faster. She wonders if an old flame, Nigel Brennan, an Aussie photographer wants to join her. He does.......and four days after their arrival in Somalia, they are kidnapped by insurgents from an Islamic fundamentalist group. And, they are held.... for 460 days.
"It was here, finally, that I started to believe this story would be one I'd never get to tell, that I would become an erasure, an eddy in a river pulled suddenly flat. I began to feel certain that, hidden inside Somalia, inside this unknowable and stricken place, we would never be found."
A House in the Sky is Amanda's recounting of those 460 days. She is beaten, starved, chained up, kept in the dark, raped and tortured. These are the facts.
"There are parts of my story that I may one day be able to recover and heal from, and, to whatever degree possible, forget about them and move on. But there are parts of my story that are so horrific that once they are shared, other people's minds will keep them alive."
How she survives is a story that had me tearing up, putting the book down and walking away from it so many times. It's a difficult read, but is such a testament to the human spirit and will.
Amanda names each of the houses they are held in - Bomb-Making House, Electric House, Tacky House and more. But it is the House in the Sky that had me freely sobbing - at the worst of times she builds a house in her mind, filled with the people she loves and the memories she treasures, the future she dreams of.
"I was safe and protected. It was where all the voices that normally tore through my head expressing fear and wishing for death went silent, until there was only one left speaking . It was a calmer, stronger voice, one that to me felt divine. It said, 'See? You are okay, Amanda. It's only your body that's suffering, and you are not your body. The rest of you is fine.' "
The journey to their release is gut-wrenching, incredibly powerful and impossible to put down. I stopped many times to look at the smiling author picture of Amanda on the back, wondering how in the world she survived. Survived and forgave. And as I turned the last page, I just sat. Sat and thought. This is a book that will stay with you, long after that last page. Read an excerpt of A House in the Sky.
Amanda Lindhout is the founder of the Global Enrichment Foundation - "a non -profit organization that supports development, aid and education initiatives in Somalia and Kenya
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