Book Review: A House in the Sky

A House in the SkyA House in the Sky

By: Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

Amanda Lindhout grew up reading National Geographic in the security of her bedroom to escape domestic violence in her home.  The glossy magazine photos launched her into far off lands to escape the violence close at hand.

Fifteen years later Amanda was off travelling the world to explore those National Geographic locations.  Her worldly adventures were financed by her waitressing job in Calgary.  She was in her early twenties, wandering the world six months of the year, soaking up the culture, and feeling invincible.   As Amanda sought greater adventures she traveled to less pedestrian travel locations and more often to conflict hot-spots.  Not wanting to break from her adventures to return to waitressing in Canada, Amanda worked to develop a career in journalism to support her adventurous lifestyle while on the road.  With little journalism experience or understanding of political terrorism she stepped into Somalia.

Just days after arriving in Somalia with her photojournalist companion, Nigel Brennan, Amanda and Nigel were kidnapped by jihadists and held for ransom.  Their captivity lasted 15 months.  The $3 million ransom was beyond possible for Amanda’s father living on disability and her mother working a minimum wage job.  Nigel’s family were middle class but “mortgaged to the eyeballs.”  Both the Canadian and Australian governments refused to assist with the ransom.  Amanda and Nigel believed they would likely die in Somali.

Fifteen months into captivity, a reduced ransom was paid and Amanda was released.  Amanda’s ordeal in Somalia was brutal.  Sara Corbet, from the New York Times Magazine, assisted Amanda in telling her story.   Amanda’s hope and strength held her together from one day to the next during captivity.  Her capacity to deal with nonstop cruelty surpassed the ability of most human beings.   Amanda’s hope and strength is inspirational and, for this reason, the book is worth the read.

Most amazing, however, is the story that continues after you close the book.  I couldn’t let her story go after the last page so jumped on Google to see what had become of this young woman.  I discovered Amanda Lindhout has returned to Somalia with her organization, The Global Enrichment Foundation, to advocate for improvements for young Somali women.

A House in the Sky is available through the Pinawa Public Library.

Book review by Holly.

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