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Book Review of A Stolen Life: A Memoir

A Stolen Life: A Memoir
perryfran avatar reviewed on + 1171 more book reviews

The story of Jaycee Dugard and what happened to her is really sad and heart-wrenching. I remember hearing about this on the news when Dugard was found after being in captivity for 18 years and I really couldn't imagine the horrors she must have gone through. In 1991, Jaycee was kidnapped on her way to catch her school bus in South Lake Tahoe. She was only eleven years old. She was taken by a man named Phillip Garrido using a taser and was assisted by the man's wife, Nancy. They took Jaycee from Tahoe to Antioch, California, and kept her imprisoned in makeshift shelters in the backyard of the Garrido's mother's house there. On her arrival, she was forced to shower with Phillip and a week later she was raped by him. The rapes went on repeatedly over the years and resulted in Jaycee having two daughters by him, the first when she was only fourteen. Garrido not only abused her sexually but also mentally by using guilt complexes and narcissistic behavior toward her. At some points, Jaycee actually felt sorry for him. She survived by caring for her daughters and her pet cats although Garrido got rid of many of them without Jaycee's consent. After 18 years, she was finally freed when Garrido took her and her daughters to see his parole officer. She was reunited with her mother, sister, and aunt, but was unsure of what her acceptance would be. Since then, she had been in therapy and eventually was able to make a life for herself and her daughters.

Jaycee was a very strong person to have been able to survive her ordeal. After her release she started the J A Y C Foundation to provide support and services for families recovering from abduction and the aftermath of traumatic experiences. This book was very enlightening and shows the horrors of what abducted children may go through. However, it really didn't tell the whole story of what happened after her kidnapping and the history of Garrido and his wife and their subsequent prosecutions. There is an article on Wikipedia that provides more details. It is really hard for me to understand the motivations of people that could commit such an atrocious crime; I especially couldn't understand how Garrido's wife would assist him in his depravities. There were times when she could have helped Dugard escape but failed to do so. Overall, this was a very intense and harrowing look at what can happen to young victims of abuse.