a stolen life
Author: Jaycee Dugard
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
American release date: July 12, 2011
Format/Genre/Length: Novel/Autobiography/273 pages
Publisher/Industry Age Rating:
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★
Jaycee Dugard was eleven years old and on her way to school when her life was unexpectedly interrupted, stolen from her at the whim of an obsessive pedophile. She virtually disappeared from the face of her earth for eighteen long years. And when she finally re-emerged into the world once more, she had quite a tale to tell.
Jaycee’s ordeal began in the summer of 1991. Only eleven, she had no real idea of the world, and what cruelties it held, and what perversions, until Phillip Garrido stole her and made her a part of his world. He kept her hostage in the farthest reaches of his back yard. The only other person who knew she was there was Phillip’s wife Nancy.
It was a confusing world at first, and frightening. She didn’t know why she was there, or what was expected of her. She soon found out. Phillip introduced her to sex, and used her for that purpose, despite the fact that she was only eleven years old. He told her that he was sick, and that by having sex with her, she was helping him not to hurt other young girls. His reasoning made no sense to her, and she wondered—why me?
Over the next eighteen years, she bore Garrido two daughters, both born in his back yard, and both delivered by himself and his wife. As the babies grew, a jealous Nancy assumed the role of mother and relegated Jaycee to that of sister.
Over the years, she had a series of cats, most of whom died, but she loved them as much as she could, for as long as she could. And she loved her babies as they grew, wondering if this would be the only world they’d ever know.
Jaycee Dugard’s kidnapping and subsequent recovery some eighteen years later are well known news stories. At one time, there’d been speculation that Jaycee had fallen prey to the same man who’d kidnapped and killed Polly Klaas. Of course, that wasn’t the case. Phillip Garrido was the madman who stole her life, and this is her story of what that life was, of how she dealt with what she was given, and how she survived. Above all, it’s a tale of survival.
Jaycee describes her days, her feelings, her occupations, and the things that happened to her. She explains to the best of her ability what occurred in this eighteen year old nightmare.
My first criticism of the book itself is that the editing is poor. The language much too formal. If done deliberately, it only serves to distance the reader from the subject, and prevents one from getting close to her. I didn’t come away with any strong feelings for the woman she’s become, other than to realize that she is a survivor. If the story is meant to be cathartic, I think it fails in that respect too, as I feel no emotions spilling onto the pages, rather an almost clinical detachment. Perhaps that was deliberate on the part of the author and her editor, but it serves to distance one from the story, in my estimation.
Which isn’t to say that it was poorly written, it wasn’t. However, I didn’t come away with the feel for her that I had hoped to find. Her ordeal was horrible. The only good things to come from it were here daughters. Luckily, she is only 29 years old and has the rest of her life to move on and get past it. Hopefully she will. This book is an interesting read, despite the flaws I’ve picked out. It’s not a waste of time, and leaves one with the hopes that Phillip Garrido will suffer in prison for a long time to come for what he did to that young girl.