A House in the Sky: A Memoir

by Amanda Lindhout

Hardcover, 2013

Status

Available

Publication

Scribner (2013), Edition: 1st, 384 pages

Description

"The spectacularly dramatic memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her from rural Canada to imperiled and dangerous countries on every continent, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity in Somalia--a story of courage, resilience, and extraordinary grace.At the age of eighteen, Amanda Lindhout moved from her hardscrabble Alberta hometown to the big city--Calgary--and worked as a cocktail waitress, saving her tips so she could travel the globe. As a child, she escaped a violent household by paging through National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. Now she would see those places for real. She backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each experience, went on to travel solo across Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a TV reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia--"the most dangerous place on earth"--to report on the fighting there. On her fourth day in the country, she and her photojournalist companion were abducted. An astoundingly intimate and harrowing account of Lindhout's fifteen months as a captive, A House in the Sky illuminates the psychology, motivations, and desperate extremism of her young guards and the men in charge of them. She is kept in chains, nearly starved, and subjected to unthinkable abuse. She survives by imagining herself in a "house in the sky," looking down at the woman shackled below, and finding strength and hope in the power of her own mind. Lindhout's decision, upon her release, to counter the violence she endured by founding an organization to help the Somali people rebuild their country through education is a wrenching testament to the capacity of the human spirit and an astonishing portrait of the power of compassion and forgiveness"-- "The spectacularly dramatic and redemptive memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her to the world's most imperiled and perilous countries, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity--a beautifully written story of courage, resilience, and grace. At the age of eighteen, Amanda Lindhout moved from her hardscrabble hometown to the big city and worked as a cocktail waitress, saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia--"the most dangerous place on earth"--to report on the fighting there. On her fourth day in the country, she and her photojournalist companion were abducted. A House in the Sky illuminates the psychology, motivations, and desperate extremism of Lindhout's young guards and the men in charge of them. She is kept in chains, nearly starved, and subjected to horrific abuse. She survives by imagining herself in a "house in the sky," finding strength and hope in the power of her own mind. Lindhout's decision to counter the violence she endured by founding an organization to help educate Somali people women is a moving testament to the power of compassion and forgiveness"--… (more)

Rating

(267 ratings; 4.1)

User reviews

LibraryThing member lit_chick
A House in the Sky is the ghost-written account of Canadian Amanda Lindhout’s 450 days in captivity in Somalia in 2008-09. Possessed by a wanderlust which began in childhood, 24-year-old Lindhout quits her job as a cocktail waitress in Calgary to become a war correspondent. Problem: she has no
Show More
experience, no contacts, and no education to quality her as a journalist. Thus she’ll need a breakthrough which is uber-impressive in order to make her name. Emboldened by vacations through South America, Southeast Asia, and India – she misses the point that these are not really the same as living in a war zone – she decides to travel to Pakistan, and then Afghanistan, and then Iraq. No surprise that in professional journalistic circles, she is desperately ill equipped and desperately out of place. Still, her arrogance (at this point, I am well past naivité) prompts her to make the ill-fated, foolish decision to venture into Somalia, a mess of “raging war, an impending famine, religious extremists.” (Ch 12) Lindhout is “glad for the lack of competition” there, which she figures will allow her “to do stories that mattered, that moved people—stories that would sell to the big networks. Then I’d move on to even bigger things.” (Ch 12) Incredulously, for reasons which wholly escaped me, ex-boyfriend Australian photographer Nigel Brennan agrees to join Lindhout.

Four days into her “work” in Somalia, Lindhout, and Brennan along with her, are kidnapped and held for ransom. She is brutalized in every way imaginable over the next fifteen months: starved, beaten, tortured, and raped. Having no possible way to raise the exorbitant ransom demand, her family is also terrorized –harangued and threatened almost daily by Lindhout’s Islam captors to fund their terrorist operations with Western affluence. Naturally, countless public resources are also spent by the Canadian government seeking to free her. Eventually, a deal is brokered, and both Lindhout and Brennan will live to tell their stories.

The novel was an interesting experience for me: first, it was admittedly a page turner; I just did not want to put it down. And undoubtedly, Lindhout’s determination to survive in the face of grave danger is astonishing. That said, the more I read, the less I able I was to excuse her absolute arrogant stupidity as youthful exuberance. Did she deserve what she was forced to endure in Somalia? Of course not! But I don’t think the consequences of her actions were terribly surprising. If it was a name for herself she was after, she certainly found it – at one hell of a price.
Show Less
LibraryThing member lamour
Lindhout became a lover of traveling the world as a backpacker starting in safe countries such as Venezuela, Costa Rica, Panama, and Honduras. As her positive experiences led her to become more confident and daring, she moved on to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and then as it was so close,
Show More
Afghanistan.

It was in Afghanistan and Iraq that she became a photojournalist which led her to ignore all warnings about the dangers of Somalia, her next stop. Only there three days when she and her friend Nigel Brennan were stopped by armed men on the side of the road and held for the 460 days as captives. What followed for her was a period of mental and physical torture including multiple incidents of rape, starvation and threats of marriage to one of the men holding her which would have guaranteed her vanishing from sight. Nigel was also abused but less severely apparently because he was a man.

The title refers to the imaginary house Amanda built in her mind to which she fled while she was being tortured. A powerful book which again demonstrates the evil man will do to another human to gain power of financial reward.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Twink
If you only read one memoir this year, make it A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett.

Amanda Lindhout is from Alberta, Canada. As a young child living in a turbulent household, she collected and cashed in bottles. And what did she spend her money on? Old National Geographic
Show More
magazines. Amanda escaped into the pages,dreaming of one day visiting the exotic places pictured.

At nineteen she has saved enough money from waitressing to make those dreams a reality. Her first trip abroad is to Venezuela.

"I had seen this place in the magazine, and now we were here, lost in it. It was a small truth affirmed. And it was all I needed to keep going."

Lindhout repeats the cycle, earning, then travelling. She visits most of Latin America, India, Burma, Ethiopia, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan and dozens more. Her joy in exploring and experiencing new places and people is tangible. But, each trip she takes is a little further off the beaten path. And finally, she's travelling to some of the most war torn countries in the world.

In Kabul, Afghanistan she begins a career as a fledgling freelance /journalist/photojournalist - with no formal training, associations or contacts. With some success under her belt, she heads next to Baghdad, Iraq to work as a reporter for Iran's Press TV. Moving on from there she decides to head to Mogadishu, Somalia in 2008 - bigger stories might help her career take off faster. She wonders if an old flame, Nigel Brennan, an Aussie photographer wants to join her. He does.......and four days after their arrival in Somalia, they are kidnapped by insurgents from an Islamic fundamentalist group. And, they are held.... for 460 days.

"It was here, finally, that I started to believe this story would be one I'd never get to tell, that I would become an erasure, an eddy in a river pulled suddenly flat. I began to feel certain that, hidden inside Somalia, inside this unknowable and stricken place, we would never be found."

A House in the Sky is Amanda's recounting of those 460 days. She is beaten, starved, chained up, kept in the dark, raped and tortured. These are the facts.

“There are parts of my story that I may one day be able to recover and heal from, and, to whatever degree possible, forget about them and move on. But there are parts of my story that are so horrific that once they are shared, other people’s minds will keep them alive.”

How she survives is a story that had me tearing up, putting the book down and walking away from it so many times. It's a difficult read, but is such a testament to the human spirit and will.

Amanda names each of the houses they are held in - Bomb-Making House, Electric House, Tacky House and more. But it is the House in the Sky that had me freely sobbing - at the worst of times she builds a house in her mind, filled with the people she loves and the memories she treasures, the future she dreams of.

"I was safe and protected. It was where all the voices that normally tore through my head expressing fear and wishing for death went silent, until there was only one left speaking . It was a calmer, stronger voice, one that to me felt divine. It said, 'See? You are okay, Amanda. It's only your body that's suffering, and you are not your body. The rest of you is fine.' "

The journey to their release is gut-wrenching, incredibly powerful and impossible to put down. I stopped many times to look at the smiling author picture of Amanda on the back, wondering how in the world she survived. Survived and forgave. And as I turned the last page, I just sat. Sat and thought. This is a book that will stay with you, long after that last page. Read an excerpt of A House in the Sky.

Amanda Lindhout is the founder of the Global Enrichment Foundation - "a non -profit organization that supports development, aid and education initiatives in Somalia and Kenya
Show Less
LibraryThing member JGoto
Gripping memoir of the kidnapping of photojournalist Amanda Lindhout by Islamic extremists in Somalia.
LibraryThing member sylliu
A harrowing read that tells the compelling story of Amanda Lindhout, a young woman freelance photojournalist traveling some of the most hostile places on earth, like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and Somalia, where she was kidnapped and held hostage for over 400 days.

The memoir traces her
Show More
hardscrabble childhood of poverty,chaos, and domestic violence; her escaping the poverty by becoming a well paid cocktail waitress at night clubs, which funded her increasingly adventurous world wide journeys as a backpacker. She eventually manages to cobble together a freelance career of sorts, falls for a married man, and together travel to war torn Somalia,

On her fourth day in Somalia, the pair get kidnapped and the rest of the book describes their efforts to stay alive. The memoir grows increasingly grim and difficult to read as Amanda pretends to convert to Islam, is moved from terrible houses to worse houses, and eventually falls prey to abuse, beating, rape, torture, and betrayal from her traveling companion.

Amanda survives through sheer grit and mental strength, and escaping in an imagina house in the sky. That she doesn't lose faith in humanity and even finds herself feeling compassion for her tormentors is truly remarkable.
Show Less
LibraryThing member readerbynight
Amazing true story, beautiful, horrific, courageous. I couldn't stop reading.

This book will take your breath away. From an abusive household in Alberta, Canada as a child whose escape is found in old National Geographic books, Amanda has no idea how much she is learning about escaping into her mind
Show More
or how much she will need this in her future. Her future as she sees it is travelling to the many countries she reads about. After she and her brothers move with her mother to a safe house, she starts planning for a future to include this travel.

Amanda Lindhout's memoir is a masterpiece of how the mind can change itself whenever it needs to, how it compensates, over-rides, and deals with the worst kinds of trauma to keep lifeblood flowing. But not to get ahead of myself, first Amanda finds a way to earn enough money to finance a trip to South America. The first of many trips interspersed with coming home to work for more money. As a cocktail waitress, she has advanced through the ranks until she is in a place to earn high tips, enough to make a trip every year. This takes her to countries in South and Central America, Asia and Africa as what she considers a beginning to many more amazing places. The writing in this stage of the book is absolutely wonderful, bringing to mind all those National Geographics, while she backpacks her way through these countries, we feel we are seeing what she is seeing, experiencing what she is experiencing. She makes us feel what she is feeling, and it is consistently beautiful. Some countries like India and Pakistan she visits more than once, but then she begins to expand her horizons: Afghanistan, Iraq, Bangladesh, Ethiopia....

Between trips she turns again to cocktail waitressing, but her need to be somewhere exotic takes over every year, and each trip she gets deeper into dangerous territory. She travels fr a time with a freelance photographer, decides that next trip she wants to show the world to everyone. She becomes a freelance photojournalist, occasionally selling photos and stories to various papers and magazines. She has teamed up with Nigel, another freelance photographer, an Australian. When she decides to head into war zones, she asks him to join her and he semi-reluctantly does. Here the book shifts dramatically. It is 2008 and she has chosen to go into Somalia.

Once in Somalia, known as the 'most dangerous country in the world,' everything changes. Although at first she and Nigel are enjoying the relatively 'safe' city of Mogadishu, on the fourth day she, Nigel, and their drivers are abducted by extremist Muslims. Assuming that all North Americans are rich, their abductors set an impossibly high ransom, which their parents are unable to even come near to paying and their respective governments have no intention of paying. Thus begins their ordeal which will last for 463 days of captivity and isolation. Kept in one room at first, they pretend they want to convert to Islam as a way of staying alive. They are visited sometimes by their captors wanting to learn English, and to teach them the Koran.

As time goes by and their captors' demands are not met, they are moved from house to house, always in the dark. Nigel and Amanda escape from one of the houses and are recaptured. From that point on, the two are completely separated and are shackled; Amanda gets the brunt of punishment as a woman, which includes rape, beatings and torture but she is able to separate herself in her mind from what is happening, a product of her childhood days. She is kept in complete darkness, later she is also bound and gagged. As fever takes over, beatings and rape continue almost daily but she is now living in her mind and guided by a calmness brought on by what seems to be a voice and is able to use different approaches to this separation of her being and her mind. Her mind's eye sees a beautiful house, one that she constructs room by room, floor by floor, until it reaches the sky. A focus for survival.

When finally rescued, neither Amanda nor Nigel are able to comprehend the fact that they are free. They can't comprehend that the food they are given is meant for them, they are fearful it will be taken away or they will be beaten. Both are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and it will take a long time to learn how to handle that. It may never be gone. But Amanda has built that inner strength from her ordeals and although the fear is always with her, she becomes forgiving of many things, including forgiving herself.

In the Epilogue, we learn that she founds a non-profit organization, the Global Enrichment Foundation to help provide and support education in Somalia, and partnering with other groups, funding scholarships to thirty-six Somalian women attending university, among other projects. This book is gut-wrenchingly real, powerful, and well-written; although the memories and fears of the atrocities are obviously very much a part of her, she has chosen to move on with her life in a positive way.
Show Less
LibraryThing member zmagic69
I am sure I am going to get negative responses to this review but here goes. This a mediocre book at best. Yes the writing is polished but my guess is the reason for this is the co author, who writes for the New York Times Magazine.
The first 140 odd pages details what a grossly naive person Amanda
Show More
Lindhout is and her narcissistic belief that she can do anything. She seems to be the one of the highest grossing waitresses on the planet without taking off her clothes, and seems to think that surviving Central and South America was justification for traveling to Pakistan, Afghanistan , and unfortunately for her ultimately Somalia. All this did for me was easily predict how her reckless behavior would end up getting her in trouble. I have seen reviews stating she got what she deserved. This assessment is grossly ignorant. Nobody deserves to be raped and tortured. The problem I had with the book is the first half is boring and as I said easy to see how the second half would play out. Having traveled to Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, and Mexico and Dubai, I have often encountered young travelers who think they can do anything with no repercussions. There is criticism the Canadian and Australian governments were less than effective is securing their release. I think people need to know that if you are going to go to countries that your government highly recommends that you don't, then if something happens to you it is not their job to help you. Other criticisms have pointed out that it seems like she purposely did this to get the fame of a once in a lifetime story, but ended up getting more than she bargained for, I doubt this is the case since it would be a great way to get killed!
The biggest problem for me regarding this book was that after awhile I just didn't care about her or her ex boyfriend's ordeal. If she had a reason to be in Somalia like she was with the UN or a soldier, or with an NCO, I would say she was crazy to be there, but was hopefully briefed on the risks. But because she was either grossly naive and or ignorant, for me did not make this book worth the time I spent reading it.
Show Less
LibraryThing member janismack
This books made me feel many different things. Horror, disbelief, the power of wanting to live and the strenght of some people towards adversity. I was horrified reading of the torture inflicked on the hostages during their incarceration. Whenever I read these type of books, I feel like the
Show More
luckiest person in the world living in Canada.
Show Less
LibraryThing member susanbeamon
Another book I might not have picked up, except that my book club was reading it. I found it depressing to learn that people can be as mean to others in their power as they are shown here. It can be claimed that Amanda would not have had these terrible things happen to her if she had stayed out of
Show More
Somalia and not behaved as a naive or entitled girl. Since this is not a claim that would be made if Amanda had been a Andy, I discount it. The desire to travel, to find a place that we feel at home in, to see what is on the other side of the mountain is deep in our consciousness. She was doing what she needed to do to be true to herself.
Show Less
LibraryThing member mountie9
The Good Stuff

I think this is one of the hardest reviews I have ever had to write. How do you critique someones harrowing life story when you have no writing ability, and have not been through anything even closely related. This fiercely strong women has opened her heart and showed her pain and
Show More
suffering to complete strangers. I don't want to do a disservice to her story with my inadequate words or trite commentary. Please forgive me for my inadequacy and just do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this harrowing, yet beautifully told book.
Amanda, I admire you and at the same time wish I had the power to make the rest of your life blessed to overcome the violence you faced. Your strength of will and of character is to be admired and your courage and ability to forgive is something we should all strive for. You give me hope for the future. I am so sorry when we met that I knew nothing of your past. I would like to go back in time and just hug you - I know that isn't much, but I am not a hugger by nature if that means anything.
deeply personal
no holds barred
Inspirational
Couldn't put this down
Never a moment of poor me - she speaks frankly about her background and her ordeal, without ever putting blame on anyone
Haunting - this book is still with me eventhough I finished it early June
Fascinating and informative
Inspirational
Hope and Forgiveness are the main messages she want to get through to the world
Takes what happened to her, and instead of letting it take hold and bring her down, uses it to try to bring around change and to help this from happening to others
SPOILER - The chapter dealing with her attempted escape sickens me. However, the sheer courage of one of those involved who tried to help does a least give me a little hope but at the same time breaks my heart for her probable fate
This will win awards my friends. The collaboration between Ms Lindhout and Ms Corbett is seamless and perfect

The Not So Good Stuff

Had to find something to put here - would have liked to know more about Amanda's life since the ordeal
Cover is sorta blah (not sure if that will change for finished product)
This is hard for me to say, but I have to be honest, whenever I read tales like this it makes me think even more poorly about that part of the world, and this makes me feel horrible. I am the type of person who wants to believe that there is good in everyone. I truly don't understand how someone who believes in a God, can treat a fellow person this way and than think that a God would not only approve, but reward them for it.

Favorite Quotes Passages



"It was as if we were poise at the edge of a witch's cauldron or sat at the prow of a great ship in the center of an otherworldly ocean. I had seen this place in the magazine, and now we were here, lost in it. It was a small truth affirmed. And it was all I needed to keep going."

"The Kuchis reminded me a little bit of the First Nations people back in Canada, independent and unintegrated and pretty much worse off for it."

"I made peace with anyone who might ever have been an enemy. I asked forgiveness for every vain or selfish thing I'd done in my life. Inside the house in the sky, all the people I loved sat down for a big holiday meal. I was safe and protected. It was where all the voices that normally tore through my head expressing fear and wishing for death were silent, until there was only one left speaking. It was a calmer, stronger voice, one that to me felt divine.

It said, See? You are okay, Amanda. It's only your body that's suffering, and you are not your body. The rest of you is fine."

"For one split second, I knew his suffering. It had assembled itself and looped through me in a rush. Its absolute clarity made me gasp. It was anguish, accrued over the brief span of his life. It was rage and helplessness. It was a little. This was the person who was hurting me. His sadness trenched beneath mine."

Who Should Shouldn't Read

This may be a difficult read for the more sensitive
Other than those who are extremely sensitive, you must read this!

5 Dewey s

I received this from the charming and fun Felicia at Simon and Schuster - thanks for the heads up Captain Awesome
Show Less
LibraryThing member nrollins
I read several reviews earlier today chastising Lindhout for traveling to Somalia and being surprised when she is kidnapped. These reviewers found her naive, arrogant, and uneducated. Other reviewers agreed that Lindhout was naive, but that was the point- she wanted to share her story of naivety
Show More
and how she has grown since. I'm only through Chapter 4, but I will say, thus far, I am agreeing with the latter reviewers. Chapters 3 and 4 were clearly written as foreshadowing- clear indication that she was naive, and her conscience was trying to warn her, but her young, curious heart was craving more of the new world around her.
Show Less
LibraryThing member sbenne3
An account of a young woman's struggle to survive while held captive in Somalia. As I have never traveled to the regions of the world that she did, I found her story to be facinating. In addition, provides a look into a Muslim world from the angle-female point of view. While I tried to keep an open
Show More
mind, it was difficult to understand the behavior of her captors. I would highly recommend if you like true stories and can handle a somewhat difficult read.
Show Less
LibraryThing member clue
When Amanda Lindhout was a child she dreamed about the faraway places she saw in National Geographic magazines. As a young adult she began to travel to some of those countries, working for several months and then traveling several months on savings. After a few years she tired of backpack travel
Show More
and decided to try her hand at freelance journalism. She thought in this way she could earn enough money to travel more comfortably. She was particularly interested in Africa and thought she could find places of interest, write about them, and sell the pieces to small travel publications. Rather quickly she decided to go to Somalia, talking a former boyfriend (Nigel) into going with her. Experienced journalists strongly advised her against Somalia, telling her she was at high risk for kidnapping. For some reason she thought the professionals were jealous of her so their opinion didn't slow her down, off she and Nigel went. They were in Somalia just a matter of days when the car they and 3 security guards were in was stopped by gunmen. They were pulled from the car and taken to a hiding place. It was more than a year before they would be free. The book covers Amanda’s life from childhood until she is rescued from the extremists holding her. It’s a frightening story but at the same time spellbinding.
Show Less
LibraryThing member SaraJoslin
Amanda Lindhout is a canadian journalist who is kidnapped and held for ransom. For a year she learns to survive her hostage situation by adapting to her environment and playing by the rules. I would use this book in an older classroom, possibly junior high for learning about civil war in other
Show More
countries and how they affect the world surrounding them. This book is appropriate for older children, in union high and high school.
Show Less
LibraryThing member RobertP
I heard Ms. Lindhout speak in Brandon, MB on November 27. I'm a cynical old fart, but she changed my attitude to life. Wonderful talk, incredible person.
LibraryThing member obeehave
House In the Sky" and "The Price of Life," true-life accounts by Amanda Lindhout and Nigel Brennan, respectively.

Lindhout and Brennan, uninsured journalists who were once romantically involved and remained friends, were kidnapped together and held for ransom in lawless Somalia for 15 months from
Show More
August 2008 through November 2009.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Iudita
I find it difficult to rate a memoir... to separate the writer's personal experience from the telling of it. I flipped back and forth in this book between really disliking this naive, self focused girl and then feeling such compassion for her. She seemed to not have a shred of common sense but the
Show More
price she paid for that was huge.I give this book 4 stars, not because it was an excellent book, but because I was so compelled to continue reading. Does that make sense?
Show Less
LibraryThing member tinkerbellkk
I enjoyed this book. I felt it was well written and very compelling. I can't even imagine how she survived for that many months in those atrocious conditions. She must be an incredible person as a result of this experience.

Her story is horrible and heart wrenching, however it was difficult at times
Show More
to feel badly for her given that she was given advice that she ignored and put herself and her traveling companions in this situation. I hope that by sharing the extremely awful details of her captivity that people will heed travel advisory restrictions and not make the make same mistakes by going into dangerous areas. Traveling is a beautiful experience but doing it with reckless abandonment is foolish.
Show Less
LibraryThing member bobbieharv
I am still haunted by this book. So beautifully written; so horrifying what she went through; so incredible that she was able to write this at all. I hope it was therapeutic - it seemed so.

But the horror of it will never leave me.
LibraryThing member Rita_h
Amanda Lindhout grew up in Canada in a dysfuntional family below the poverty line, but collected back issues of National Geographic from turning in beer cans and using the coin at a thrift shop. She would shut out the hunger pain in her belly or the constant screaming in her house by lying in bed
Show More
and soaking up the sights of cultures and countrysides from all around the world. She promised herself that when she was grown she would see the world-- somehow, someday. Fast forward to her early 20's and Amanda starts the beginning of her sporadic world travels by waitressing in high-roller night clubs gaining big tips and then traveling on a shoestring, from tents to hostels to friendly folks' private homes, with barely a decent bite to eat, but a feast of sights and smells and foreign words to devour.

A few years later, Amanda changes careers to that of a freelance foreign journalist, those reporters who don't have the luxury of a large team behind them for translation, security, and safe housing among other essentials working in areas such as the Middle-East. She gets a bit cocky about her personal safety and takes an assignment over the border into Somalia (with an ex-lover, but good friend photographer), one of the most dangerous places on Earth for a single, white, foreign female to be traveling in. The insurgents there follow the Koran explicitly, including the way prisoners captured during a jihad may be treated. When the rebels check out their credentials and establish that the couple are not spies, they don't release them. Instead, they hold onto them to gain a multi-million dollar ransom, while Amanda and Nigel struggle to stay alive in their primitive holding rooms. However, the rebels and prisoners alike are disturbed to find out that Canada and Australia are among those countries that will not negotiate ransom for prisoners. What ensues next is an unbelievable true story of courage, inspiration, and a will to survive against all odds.

It's hard to say you love a book that is so full of angst, sorrow, and the instinct to hold onto each day as it comes, no matter what. It sounds almost disrespectful to "enjoy" such a story, but I will say I did. It has been such a long time since a storyline grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let go. I had to keep reading, and when I couldn't get to it, I would think about it. I would lie in bed and think about what was going on with Amanda and Nigel as if I knew them personally and had to worry about them. Of course you know Amanda survives; she wrote this book three years later. The years of dictating her story to her writing partner dredged up painful memories, but while she continues her treatment for PTSD and physical ailments, she incredibly decided to give back and help poor people in other countries, specifically females who don't get a fair chance for education or don't have a physical school to attend.
Show Less
LibraryThing member gypsysmom
This book is on the CBC list of 100 True Stories that Make You Proud to Be Canadian. One of the authors, Amanda Lindhout, is a Canadian who was held for 460 days in Somalia beginning in August 2008. She was subjected to starvation, rape, torture while her captors negotiated for ransom money from
Show More
her family and that of her fellow captive, Nigel Brennan. The Canadian government refused to pay ransom money and their negotiators advised Lindhout's family not to pay any either. Eventually Lindhout's and Brennan's families raised enough money to allow a private firm to negotiate their release. In part, Amanda survived by going to her "house in the sky" in her mind whenever she was raped or tortured. Amazingly, Lindhout has started a charity that gives aid to Somalis both inside Somalia and in other countries. She has also stated that she has forgiven the people who took her captive and abused her. She may finally get to face one of them in court. The man she knew as Adam, who was the chief negotiator, was arrested when he came to Canada and his trial should occur shortly.

This is one of those books that make you ask yourself "What would I do in these circumstances?" I'm pretty sure I would not have lasted being captive for any length of time and, if I did last, I'm pretty sure I would be mentally traumatized for the rest of my life. Lindhout has had treatment for Post-traumatic Stress but in the interviews I have seen of her she seems to be centered and focused on bringing something good out of this horrific experience.
Show Less
LibraryThing member Lindsay_W
A House in the Sky is Amanda Lindhout’s personal account of being held hostage in Somalia for 15 months under brutal conditions. I went into this memoir well aware of the criticism of Lindhout and her motivation for traveling to war-torn Somalia despite warnings, and it certainly influenced my
Show More
impression of her. Rather than add my voice to the backlash though, I have decided to use her experiences as an impetus to learn more about Islam and about conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, and to better understand what life is like for people, especially women, living under these regimes.
Show Less
LibraryThing member akh3966
This was an incredibly thought provoking book. Next I plan to read her friend Nigel's account of the same situation. Many readers seem to feel no sympathy for Amanda because of her naivete that landed her in such a terrible situation. I get her though. We all have faults and it isn't always easy or
Show More
possible to change them. I, too, can tend
to be lacking in common sense and the need for self-preservation. The part of the book that moved me most was actually thinking about it from her mother's point of view. I am trying to use that to be wiser about my own choices by asking myself how I would feel if one of my kids did ----
Show Less
LibraryThing member zmagic69
I am sure I am going to get negative responses to this review but here goes. This a mediocre book at best. Yes the writing is polished but my guess is the reason for this is the co author, who writes for the New York Times Magazine.
The first 140 odd pages details what a grossly naive person Amanda
Show More
Lindhout is and her narcissistic belief that she can do anything. She seems to be the one of the highest grossing waitresses on the planet without taking off her clothes, and seems to think that surviving Central and South America was justification for traveling to Pakistan, Afghanistan , and unfortunately for her ultimately Somalia. All this did for me was easily predict how her reckless behavior would end up getting her in trouble. I have seen reviews stating she got what she deserved. This assessment is grossly ignorant. Nobody deserves to be raped and tortured. The problem I had with the book is the first half is boring and as I said easy to see how the second half would play out. Having traveled to Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, and Mexico and Dubai, I have often encountered young travelers who think they can do anything with no repercussions. There is criticism the Canadian and Australian governments were less than effective is securing their release. I think people need to know that if you are going to go to countries that your government highly recommends that you don't, then if something happens to you it is not their job to help you. Other criticisms have pointed out that it seems like she purposely did this to get the fame of a once in a lifetime story, but ended up getting more than she bargained for, I doubt this is the case since it would be a great way to get killed!
The biggest problem for me regarding this book was that after awhile I just didn't care about her or her ex boyfriend's ordeal. If she had a reason to be in Somalia like she was with the UN or a soldier, or with an NCO, I would say she was crazy to be there, but was hopefully briefed on the risks. But because she was either grossly naive and or ignorant, for me did not make this book worth the time I spent reading it.
Show Less
LibraryThing member LibraryCin
4.25 stars

In 2008, Canadian journalist Amanda Lindhout travelled to Somalia with Australian photographer, Nigel Brennen. While there, they (along with 3 Somalian escorts) were kidnapped and held for ransom. Amanda and Nigel were held for over a year before their families, with the help of a
Show More
professional negotiator, came up with part of the money the kidnappers had originally asked for to get them released.

Amanda not only tells her story in the book; she narrates the audio. As the book was coming close to the end, I marveled that she was not only able to write her story, but she is able to narrate it! The book started a bit slower, as she told of her life growing up in Alberta, Canada (fairly local to me!), before she caught the “travel bug” and she wanted to travel all over. She tells stories of some of the places she travelled before deciding to head into Somalia to hopefully write a story to “make” her career. But, the pace of the book just picks up more and more as the book goes on.

At the start of the book, I was ready to give it 3.5 stars, but it quickly went up to 4 stars. At the end I might have given 4.5 stars, but I wanted to take the entire book in account for my rating and settled on 4.25, as I feel like it does deserve higher than 4.
Show Less

Language

Original language

English

Original publication date

2013

Physical description

9 inches

ISBN

1451645600 / 9781451645606
Page: 0.3154 seconds