I just finished reading a most remarkable story. It is published under the title, A House in the Sky. Written by Amanda Lindhout, it is her story of being held hostage for over a year in Somalia.
Amanda grew up in Alberta, so it adds interest to read about landmarks with which I am familiar. And the story is incredibly well-written. It is a fabulous job of storytelling. It reads like a suspense novel; so much so that at times it was difficult to believe that someone actually underwent the horrendous experiences being related.
Amanda does not dwell on the horror; she rather allows the reader to experience it from a distance. In fact, the means Amanda used to retain her sanity and her spirit is demonstrated by the book’s title. She was able to build a “house in the sky” in her mind, one attempt at maintaining her will to live and her incredible spirit. Though she understandably considered suicide while in the depths of the brutality, she was able to develop the ability to remove her mind from the horrors of her situation and maintain some semblance of sanity and psychological health.
And the book is not at all bleak or only dark. The first half of the book deals with her craving to travel and experience the world. She grew up in a very dysfunctional family, but came out of that environment with a zest for life. She wanted to experience the wider world, and set about to do that. She would waitress in high-end bars and restaurants, earning high tips, which she diligently saved for her travels. While working she would research places to go, and gather her travel resources.
Then she would quit her job, and go! After a few years of this she began to develop her skills for writing and photographing her travels, selling her stories freelance. This is what eventually took her to Somalia. She and another journalist were kidnapped and held for over 400 days, beaten, tortured, treated very brutally by Muslim extremists.
And most incredibly, Amanda came out of this experience with her spirit whole. In fact, she has established an organization to help educate women and children in Africa, and returns there frequently to oversee this effort. I was quite blown away by how mentally healthy she was after coming through this absolutely horrific experience.
I highly recommend this book. Read it and be encouraged by the strength of the human spirit! This book is a real page-turner, holding the reader’s interest right through to the end.