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Book Review: A Stolen Life


A Stolen Life is not an easy book to read and it is not supposed to be. There were times when I found myself crying and angry as I was unable to grasp what happened to 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard. In 1991, Jaycee was taken off of the road by Philip and Nancy Garrido as she was going down a hill on her way to school. She was then raped, manipulated and imprisoned in the Garrido's backyard where she lived for 18 years. During this time, she also had two children with Philip - all while she was subjected to his drug abuse and talk of how 'angels' are controlling him. This stark and honest book written by Jaycee goes beyond the shocking headlines and brings to light how as an 11-year-old did what she had to do to survive and how she finally returned to her mom and a life all her own when she was 29 years old.

As a victim of this devastating kidnapping, Jaycee explains that she wrote the book to "convey the overwhelming confusion she endured during her years in captivity and to begin to unravel the damage that was done to she and her family." Through this she chronicles her experience with brutal honesty as she writes about her loneliness, boredom and longing to see her mother. As the story goes on, she reveals how she becomes dependent on her kidnappers as they isolate her from the world as well as how confusing the whole ordeal was.

The sexual abuse of an 11-year-old is not easy to read and definitely made me uncomfortable as she goes into details of what Philip Garrido did to her. Once I got through these graphic sections, I found myself captivated by Jaycee and her courage to survive for her daughters and the chance to see her mom once again.

The book also contains sections from her actual journal entries that she wrote in the backyard. Through these entries I was able to learn more about Jaycee and her issues of wanting to lose weight and see the world as well as her conflicted feelings about Philip and his mental abuse.

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Throughout the book, it is hard to believe that this happened and as a mom it shocking to read. Even though you know Jaycee is now free it is difficult to comprehend that these things happened to a child as well as a childhood that was taken from her.

Jaycee, however, does not want people to feel sorry for her but it seems that she wrote this book for closure as well as to help people speak up if something looks wrong or amiss. Since 2009, she has created the JAYC Foundation and even recently created a Public Service Announcement called "Just Ask Yourself to Care" about what a community can do if they notice something that simply doesn't look right (see video below).

With the assistance of non-traditional therapy, Jaycee has been living with her two daughters and simply learning how to live and make her own decisions. She is also forming relationships with friends and healing as she is learning how to break free from the mental and emotional chains from the Garrido's. As no easy feat, Jaycee and her mission continues to inspire.

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Momtrends was not paid for this post. We were given a book for review purposes.

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