Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

I love this cover.
I listened to the latest Book Riot podcast this morning (episode 26, That's Verbatim, Baby) and heard Rebecca Schinsky talk about a book that made her weep uncontrollably on an airplane (The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien). It reminded me that last month I listened to A House in the Sky, a memoir co-written by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett. If you haven't already heard about her, Lindhout was kidnapped while working as a freelance journalist in Somalia and held captive for 15 months.

I'm not loving the Midwest Tape
audio edition cover. I wouldn't
have picked it up if I hadn't already
heard about the book and knew
I wanted to read it.
On the eve of my departure for the Vancouver Writers Fest, I realized that I had only about 45 minutes left before the end of the audiobook [Simon & Schuster: 13 hours total: read by Lindhout herself]. I considered saving it for the waiting lounge, as it would be about the right length of time, and then I could start a new book once the plane was in the air and the restriction on using electronic devices was lifted. I'm glad that I decided instead to finish it at home before I left, because the most harrowing parts are in that final section. I cried. I was glad that I was not in a public place.

The earlier parts of the book explain why Lindhout was in Somalia in the first place. Her motivations start with her childhood in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, where she escaped her dysfunctional family situation by reading secondhand National Geographic magazines. She moved to Calgary after high school and worked as a waitress until she had enough money to travel for the first time. Lindhout was hooked on travel to exotic locations and repeatedly returned to work in Calgary only long enough to save for another extended trip. I also love to travel, so I was sympathetic, even though I would never choose to go anywhere near a war zone or other dangerous places.

Lindhout maintained her sanity through 460 days of captivity in Somalia. It is a remarkable and memorable story.

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