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A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard - a review

Yesterday I received my copy of A Stolen Life that I had pre-ordered through Amazon.com. I have been fascinated with this story ever since Jaycee Dugard was found alive with two children a few years ago. How does one survive an ordeal like that for almost two decades?

Jaycee doesn't disappoint in giving her insights on her kidnapping and captivity from the day she was taken until her rescue. Throughout the book she she recounts the events as they happened, sharing her thoughts at the time, and  then her current view as a 31-year-old survivor of how she views those events now. 

Yet, the book is written very much in the voice of a young child.  Ms. Dugard was taken at 11 years old finishing up the 5th grade. In some ways her writing style seems stuck there, which makes the story she tells more disturbing and sad.  A journal that she kept for one of her pet cats is included in the pages of the book - her attempt at some normalcy in the midst of her psychological and physical abuse.


She does not refer a lot to the two children she bore as a teenager (at age 11 and 17).  In the book they are referred to as A and G although she does give an update about how they are doing in school and how much she worries about them as they try to re-enter the outside world and attend regular school. I get the impression that Jayce wrote more about her pets as opposed to her daughters because she is trying to protect their privacy and give them the best shot at having a normal life.  They probably have their own issues to deal with after learning that the father was a pedophile rapist and that their mother was one of his victims.

There are a lot of details about the exual abuse she endured;  it started almost immediately with inappropriate touching and nudity and escalating to rape after a few days of captivity when Phil Garrido had Jaycee completely under his control and dependent on him for food, companionship and even a bucket to use for the bathroom.  That part was very similar to Elizabeth Smart's captivity. But the more interesting part to me was how Jaycee dealt with those events in her mind and her own subtle ways of rebelling while still surviving her conditions.

I have a lot of hope for Jaycee Dugard. She's clearly a very intelligent woman. Without any formal instruction she learned to use the computer and even operated a successful printing business for her captors. Also, because of her own efforts to homeschool by usint resources from the internet, her daughters were already academically ready for school. As her book went to publication, Jaycee has already obtained her driver's license as well - a big boost for her feelings of independence!

Overall I think this is an important book. It certainly speaks out to the dangers of pornography in our society.  Phil Garrido's obsessesion with sexual fantasy and acting it out came from his avid use of ponographical materials. When watching it was no longer enough, Jaycee became his victim. I'm sure this book will also provide valuable insights for profilers, counselors and law enforcement officials in years to come. As a parent, it makes me question a lot of the things I have told them or need to tell them about sex and sexuality and how to balance what they might need to know with preserving their childhood innocence.  I don't know if as parents we can ever strike a good balance there.

But most of all, this is a book about survival. And I truly admire Jaycee Dugard for doing just that while keeping her ability to love, hope and dream intact.  I truly wish a bright and happy future for her and her family.






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Comments

Moonshadow said…
In reading some old news, I was reminded of Rupert Murdoch's papal knighthood:

"It sends out the message that you can make a living out of something - soft pornography - that is regarded by the Church as sinful, and yet you can be awarded for it. The Knighthood of St Gregory is supposed to be about honour and chivalry and and splendour. To give it to Murdoch is ridiculous and wrong."