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A House in the Sky
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A House in the Sky

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  17,857 ratings  ·  2,194 reviews
The dramatic and redemptive memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most beautiful and remote places, its most imperiled and perilous countries, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity—an exquisitely written story of courage, resilience, and grace.

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geogr
Hardcover, Canadian, 373 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Scribner
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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 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 survi
Impossible to put down, and easily one of the bravest, most harrowing, and most inspiring memoirs you'll ever read. What Amanda went through during her 15 months of captivity in Somalia is about as close to hell on earth as anyone could get, and her story is at once many things: a remembrance of transcended origins and of lust for travel; a page-turning, ripped-from-the-headlines chronicle of a young woman's kidnapping; a portrait of the tragedy of religious fundamentalism and failed statehood a ...more
Kristi Vitale
Every so often you’ll read a book that stays unshakably close to you. It’ll linger in your mind and fill your thoughts throughout the day when you've set it aside and lovingly so very, very long after the last page. Memoir A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout is one of those books. Receiving the absolute highest possible praise of five and four stars from the Mindful Readers, this book is incredible. Amanda’s rich, flowing, and relentless, beautiful writing takes you intensely side by side with ...more
David V.
Man, I don't know what to say about this one. I'd received it as an ARC from the publisher. Read it in just a few days. Saying I'm conflicted is an understatement. Yes it's the true story of a Canadian woman who, while working as a photojournalist (or at least she thinks she is), gets captured and held for ransom along with a male friend in Somalia for over a year. She's half starved, beaten and raped before she and her friend are released. It's a story of courage, inventiveness, and faith. But ...more
Angela Auclair
In August, five years ago, Canadian Amanda Lindhout was kidnapped with Australian Nigel Brennan in Somalia, as they traveled, writing and taking photos of their experiences.

In August, five years ago, I had just had Alex and was spending most of my nights awake, in a bleary, exhausted post partum haze and began following Amanda’s story. Late at night, I would search the internet for updates, hoping for good news, reading blogs that claimed to have answers as to where she was and wonder how on ear
Patricia Douglas
A true story about a young Canadian woman bitten by wonderlust who ends up in war torn Somalia because she fancies herself a photo journalist. Not surprisingly she is kidnapped and held hostage for more than a year, starved, tortured and raped by her Muslim captors hoping for ransom money. I was engrossed in the book once I started because I wanted to know what happened to her and read it through to the end just to finish it and see how it ended. But, honestly, I spent more time wondering what o ...more
Saleem Khan

UPDATE, Sept. 13, 2013: My full review runs in Canada's National Post newspaper on Sept. 14, but you can read it online now at

One note on the Goodreads rating: It should be 4.5 stars, but I don't see a way to do that.

Initial impressions posted: July 16, 2013:

I read this in about eight hours. Part of the reason might have been personal interest, as a Canadian journalist for whom Amanda Lindhout's kidnapping was top of mind throughout her captivity. Irrespective of any add
Nov 14, 2013 Christopher rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Travel Enthusatists
Ghost written account of a stupid and reckless young Alberta women who ignored all advice to enter the lawless, warlord-divided and 20yr civil-war ravaged country of Somalia and who was kidnapped and held for ransom for 460 days with equally dumb Australian ex-boyfriend/wannabe photojournalist.

I must congratulate New York Times writer Sara Corbett for corralling the flotsam and jetsam thoughts of the airheaded Lindhout. She managed to put structure and weave a simple plotline into the vapid, sto
Through A House in the Sky you vicariously experience being a hostage.

Please start by carefully reading the GR book description. It is accurate and to the point.

What can I add? The book is both well written and well laid out. What the author lived through is not sensationalized and I admire Amanda Lindhout for that. The book is co-authored by Sara Corbett. Together the two have written a very, very good book. It is not an easy book to read. By starting with Amanda's troubled family circumstance
Lisa Regan
This is one of those books that is so powerful it changes your most fundamental view of the world. It reads like a novel, like literary fiction. There is so much in this, I could see this being read in college classes. It is fast paced. I wanted to slow down to savor how amazing the writing was, but it was hard not to rush ahead. Several times I found my heart pounding--wanting to put the book down because some of the things this woman endured were so horrifying it felt like a punch to the gut. ...more
Diane Yannick
Get past the part where you blame Amanda for entering Somalia. Yell at her for her wanderlust and her feelings of invincibility. Be mad at her for not setting goals for herself other than elite waitressing to earn enough money for her next trip. Find her as unlikeable as you want. Bash her for the way she treated/used her men friends. Tell her there were other ways to cope with the abuse she witnessed in her home. Yeah, she was a half-assed Canadian journalist mostly interested in seeing the bea ...more
I have to admit that I found myself rolling my eyes 2 or 3 times during the first part of this book. I was seriously irritated by Lindhout’s accounts of her love life. To me, she came across as conceited. She “felt an instant pull in his direction.” He “stirred her.” She gave an ultimatum, “our lives could be fantastic.” Maybe it is my current state of mind, my skepticism of happily-ever-after’s, but I just didn’t see the point of documenting her male conquests. And then there was her naïve noti ...more
4 stars - It was great. I loved it.

Somalia sounds like hell on Earth. I cannot fathom living somewhere that is so ingrained with violence, and the uncertainty that must exist for the citizens as the law and who is in control changes hands so frequently, perhaps even depending on what part of the country you are in at the moment. I cannot get the image out of my head of the woman that tried to help Amanda in vain, at the mosque. How difficult of a life the innocents in that country must have, as
Anna Graham Hunter
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I read this because my husband couldn't put it down. As the book description says, it's the story of a woman who was kidnapped in Somalia. Though I respect Amanda Lindhout for raising herself out of a sad and difficult childhood, I did spend a lot of time saying to myself, (sometimes out loud) "Wow, what a stupid thing to do!" as she compulsively travels alone to dangerous flashpoint destinations. Amanda Lindhout is a traveler/cocktail waitress/wannabe journalist. For a few years, she's extremel ...more
I am giving the House in the Sky four stars mostly because the writing deserves it. Still, I wrestle with the little girl who rejected common wisdom costing tremendous loss to herself and many others emotionally, physical and financially.

Amanda’s life choices became more understandable after reading the first chapter of The House in the Sky. As a reader, we are introduced early to the dysfunctions of Amanda’s formative years. Her fears were justified and pervasive resulting from a lack of stabi
Jennifer Rayment
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 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
Jeremy Kroeker
Well-written, engaging and hopeful. A House in the Sky is a well-rounded story with real character development, moving descriptions, imagery, and heart. This is no tawdry narrative about hardship or survival -- this book will touch you, or you're dead inside. Read it!
Luanne Ollivier
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 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
Jeanne-marie Robillard
I can't remember the last time I was so engrossed in a book. I started it at 7:30pm the day I received the advance copy and I finished at 1am the following night (while shopping for, prepping and hosting an 11-person dinner party in between!). I felt that, if I put it down, I was leaving Amanda to the horror of her captivity.

This book is compelling & brutally honest, while being loving and inspiring. It reflects the Amanda we all love & admire.

I cannot recommend it highly enough. I thi
This book was only average for me. A lot of reviewers judged Lindhout for being so reckless as to go to Somalia. She was young. I understand wanderlust. And I'm not so old that I have forgotten the feeling of being immortal, that only the young have. So that part doesn't bother me.

But there were a few things that did bother me. Despite everyone raving over the writing, I thought it dry and factual. Like reading a text book. The book had no mystery to it. You know from the jacket that she's kidna
Patricia Strickland
I received this "A House in the Sky" by Amanda Lindhout for free through Goodreads. I have not only read the book, but have now seen Ms. Lindhout profiled on television for her captivity in Somalia. It is a fascinating book, but written by someone you have the urge to reach through the pages and strangle long before she gets to her Waterloo in Mogadishu.

Ms. Lindhout's parents divorced when she was quite young. Her father was gay and went to live with his partner, which was undoubtedly quite unus
I have purposefully not read any reviews about this book -- I wanted my own reaction to Amanda Lindhout's story to be untainted by the opinions of others. So -- first of all -- it was a riveting read. The writing was very good and the story flowed. I thought the descriptions of her travels were beautiful and I had a solid understanding of her background and motives. I was impressed by her daring and innocence. I can't decide whether she was naive or brazen in undertaking a trip to Somalia virtua ...more
I received "A House in the Sky" advance reader's edition for free through Goodreads First Reads.

The pages of National Geographic ignited a passion for travel in Amanda. She seemed fearless in her approach to travel. As she ventured into unstable countries, she began to discover the dangers lurking in the unlikeliest places.

During her captivity, she learned to adapt by gathering useful information to enable her to survive her surroundings. Her experiences reinforced how powerful, yet fragile, t
I thought her story was amazing. The writing was excellent and her bravery and ability to stay positive given what was happening to her was astonishing. Some of the negative commnents have focused on the fact that she went into a known war torn area with very little experience and therefore she deserved it. Ignorance, drive and general belief in the good in people doesnt mean for one second that she deserved to get treated that way! She went in there with some of the attitude that it wont happen ...more
They became guilty, one the same as another. I bled not for hours or days but for weeks afterwards.

3.5 stars. I almost did not finish this book. I did not like and could not identify with the young Amanda. Also living in Africa, it is very difficult to understand why anyone would choose to go into one of the most dangerous countries in the world by choice. I am very glad I stuck it out. I appreciated how the memoir was able to show us how she changed as a person. I'm always amazed when someone i

This is a story of a far too intrepid a traveler. Upon high school graduation Amanda Lindhout left her home in rural Canada for Calgary. She landed a dream waitress job where she could expect $500/night in tips. Like another waitress, she saved these tips for travel.

The first third of the book is about her spirited trips to unconventional travel locations such as Venezuela, Guatemala, Ethiopia Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc.. The Somalia trip was part of her plan to use journalism to subsidize her t
Uwe Hook
A powerful account of what its like to be a captive in Somalia, her bravery and strength throughout the ordeal was incredible, also her very honest account of how she got there, the danger of going into areas like this. As I thought about it later, my first impression was, as some reviews have followed it, was she had been foolish to go. But then, what of the other reporters/photographers (mostly men) who have gone to the these same locations and sent back incredible information, many captured, ...more
So beautifully written and so much suffering that it’s sad I feel so conflicted about this book. Yes, it’s a riveting tale yet a difficult to stomach tale too. You feel traumatized along with Lindhout. Yes, there’s value in being a witness and yet what is the response supposed to be? Recognition that kidnapping is much more prevalent than we realize and that you’re screwed if your family isn’t rich? Recognition that Muslim extremists originate in terribly deprived and violent environments? It’s ...more
Nov 13, 2013 Travelcrazyone rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Travelcrazyone by: Mindful Readers Book Club
I considered myself a wanna be "traveler" who wanted to see all the exotic places in the world, just like Amanda did as a child…I too used to collect the National Geographic magazines. As her story begin to lift off away from Canada, it became apparent quickly that she she was in a league far from my own!

She was gutsy from the get go - 4-6 month trips at a time without any set plans to South America! Oh how I envied her ability to keep her wings open for travel as she worked for months to save
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Powerful 1 3 Jan 29, 2015 09:10AM  
The Number One Bo...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Monday, February 2, 2015, A House In The Sky, by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett 1 4 Jan 06, 2015 05:54AM  
This needs to be turned into a Movie! 15 102 Nov 29, 2014 02:40PM  
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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.
More about Amanda Lindhout...
A House in the Sky: A Memoir

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“In my mind, I built stairways. At the end of the stairways, I imagined rooms. These were high, airy places with big windows and a cool breeze moving through. I imagined one room opening brightly onto another room until I'd built a house, a place with hallways and more staircases. I built many houses, one after another, and those gave rise to a city -- a calm, sparkling city near the ocean, a place like Vancouver. I put myself there, and that's where I lived, in the wide-open sky of my mind. I made friends and read books and went running on a footpath in a jewel-green park along the harbour. I ate pancakes drizzled in syrup and took baths and watched sunlight pour through trees. This wasn't longing, and it wasn't insanity. It was relief. It got me through.” 7 likes
“I've realized that the world is, in essence, full of banana peels - loaded with things that may unwittingly trip an internal wire in my mind, opening a floodgate of fears without warning.” 3 likes
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