As a general rule, I avoid non-fiction books that I know will disturb me. If it’s fiction I can cope with horrid/terrifying subject matter because I know it’s just the spawn of someone’s imagination. The books I absolutely cannot bear however, are true crime and accounts of people who’ve been abused as children.
The reason I tell you this is because I wanted to give a background for how I felt before reading Amanda Lindhout’s “A House in the Sky.”
A House in the Sky is the memoir of Amanda Lindhout, a woman who travels the globe. In August 2008 she visited Somalia, “the most dangerous place on earth,” where she is abducted along with her friend Nigel, by masked gunman.
They are held hostage for 460 days, tortured, and kept in chains before finally being released.
I’d seen that the book had rave reviews online, but I was selfishly a bit scared to read it in case it put me off travelling. (It didn’t, but I’m not in any hurry to go to Somalia now!)
The book was incredible. I gave it a rare five stars on goodreads. I couldn’t put it down, I HAD to know what happened. The account is incredibly harrowing, as you can imagine, but ultimately uplifting. Lindhout survives her ordeal by visiting a house high in the sky, a safe place she’s created for herself.
There’s a passage where she fantasises about waking up at home, going for a run in the fresh air and returning home for pancakes. On reading, I was suddenly filled with an enormous sense of gratitude. These are all things that I can do any time I fancy, and I’m so lucky to be free!
Lindhout faced criticism for even going to Somalia in the first place. She is seen as a rich Westerner whom can be held for a huge ransom. Governments don’t pay ransom money as it’s seen as negotiating with terrorists, hence how she was in captivity for such a long time.
What did I learn?
There’s a lot to cover, but what struck me most was her incredible will to survive, her inner strength, her choices, and her friendships.
I’m filled with gratitude for the lucky life that I’ve lived so far, and eager to see the world in all its colours.
Here is a quote from a goodreads review which I think sums it up beautifully:
“Go anywhere. Fall in love. Make mistakes. Be kind. Forgive. Know that you are strong enough. Make change. Be hopeful. These are the thoughts I am left with, after closing the book. There are others of course – the baseness of human brutality, cultural realities that scare me, how governments work in our lives, the role of women in society, the feeling that there is so much work to be done in so many places. In all this, Amanda leaves her readers with hope, hope for change and hope that despite what she has been through that life holds for her so much more yet.”
Go read it!