Posts Tagged ‘Jaycee Dugard’

Review: A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

I admit I had some trepidations about reading this book. Jaycee Dugard, if you recall, was kidnapped at age 11 and held by her kidnapper for 18 years. She regained her freedom in 2009. A Stolen Life is Dugard’s account of what happened to her, how she survived and about her freedom.

A number of things worried me about what the book might be like. I thought it might be too upsetting to read, that the story would feel exploitative of what happened to Dugard, that it would be a train-wreck of quality etc…

I am glad I read this book. I highly recommend it. I came away with a profound respect for Dugard, and I wouldn’t give that up for any of the tears I shed reading it.

Dugard does a very wise thing with the structure of the book, which is to break the chronological flow with sections that talk about her perspective and reflections on the preceding section. For the reader, it provides space to breathe and recover and remind ourselves that she did regain her freedom.

My sense was that she wrote this book herself, with little to no help from a ghost-writer. Which is to say the words feel authentic. They may lack a little polish, but the book is all the more effective and powerful because of it. Dugard is a very good writer, by the way. Setting aside the writer for the moment, the book is also an editorial triumph. Major kudos to Simon & Schuster for their work on this book and for having the wisdom to let Dugard write the book the way she did.

As I mentioned, I came away with a profound respect for Dugard. I’m not sure there’s much more I can say that wouldn’t be trite or simply inadequate.

I also think this book gives us an opportunity to start speaking a little louder about all the ways in which sexual violence against women is tolerated and even glorified. We need to talk less about how women should protect (restrict) themselves and talk a lot more about how to stop the violence. The conversation shouldn’t just be about whether women and children are safe walking on the streets, but about how to deal with the perpetrators and, even, about ways to prevent people from becoming predators in the first place.