Huma Rashid's Reviews > A Stolen Life

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
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Oct 07, 11

it was ok
Read in October, 2011

I was going to give this book a 4 star rating and be done with it. Anything else felt douchey. How could you give a book about a courageous girl who kept going and kept it together and raised two girls while in an unimaginably horrible situation anything LESS than 4 stars?

But then I thought about why I was giving the book (the BOOK, not the woman, the book) 4 stars. I was doing it out of pity and sympathy. The story of Jaycee Dugard is so horrifying and tragic that I wanted to give the book 4 stars just for that. (I couldn't bear to give it 5 stars, putting it right up there with the Count of Monte Cristo and White Teeth and the others. I thought 4 was more than fair as a pity vote.) And then I thought that going about it that way just wasn't fair. I was treating this book differently because the subject was so horrible and frightening - like giving any and every book about the Holocaust a 4 or 5 just because the Holocaust was so tragic.

So this is my honest rating. A 1 star rating. (After I wrote this review, when I was looking it over for the final time before submitting, I boosted it to a 2-star rating out of pity. I know.)

The book flops around a lot. To her credit, Jaycee acknowledges this in the beginning and says it was all a part of her process. I have no quarrel with that whatsoever, but as a reader experiencing a book for the first time, it's distracting and cconfusing.

The book is also rambling, as if it could have benefited from a good editor. I do not enjoy rambling books. As for the writing style itself (I hate myself for saying this), it's juvenile and stilted. This is understandable: the girl was snatched away when she was 11, for crying out loud. She never had a chance to continue her schooling. But that doesn't change the writing style of the book; it just explains it. A co-writer or ghost-writer could have fixed this nicely, but I bet writing this was part of Jaycee's healing process, so again, it's understandable.

I know I come off as heartless. I know I sound like a terrible person. But I also felt pretty terrible giving this book a 4 star rating ONLY because I felt so sorry for the author and was so horrified by everything she had to endure at the hands of those monsters.
I know I
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Reading Progress

02/17 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Molly I completely agree...I could barely finish it because it was practically unreadable/frustrating/hard to understand her writing.


Huma Rashid Molly wrote: "I completely agree...I could barely finish it because it was practically unreadable/frustrating/hard to understand her writing."

Oh, good, I'm glad I'm not the only one. Toward the middle/end it became kind of a chore to plod through, but I'd started it, so I wanted to finish it. :/


message 3: by Lyndsie (new) - added it

Lyndsie It's funny. Last night while I was reading this, I'm like...how can I possibly rate the book less than 3 stars without people thinking I'm an awful human being?


Huma Rashid Lyndsie wrote: "It's funny. Last night while I was reading this, I'm like...how can I possibly rate the book less than 3 stars without people thinking I'm an awful human being?"

Hahahaha. :D Gah, I'm so glad I'm not alone on this. I was thinking, "if I give it two stars or less, I'm a total douche...." LOL.


Lauren Yes, yes, yes- so glad there are others who felt the same way. By the end, I was skipping large portions just to get through. I'd love to read a more polished version.


Huma Rashid Lauren wrote: "Yes, yes, yes- so glad there are others who felt the same way. By the end, I was skipping large portions just to get through. I'd love to read a more polished version."

Good, I wasn't alone! Because I was skimming sections so fast I got dizzy! :P And yeah, the book definitely would have benefited from some polishing, but I have to imagine that, since it was probably part of Jaycee's healing process, maybe she or even her editors didn't really want to change too much of the draft? You know what I mean? Like, they wanted to preserve her voice, since she obviously has only a fifth grade education, but also, they might not have wanted to do anything to mess up the actual words she'd put down, because she was basically just pouring her heart out. As an editor, if I got that manuscript I'd be like, "Errr...... *tugs collar*.....GOLD STAR! Let's fast-track this one!" :P You know?


message 7: by Liz (new) - rated it 2 stars

Liz I felt like an a-hole giving this book 2 stars. I tried to write a review, and came off sounding like a jerk. I gave up. Your review said exactly what I wanted mine to say. Thank you.


Nicole Morrison I also was reading this book thinking how can I possibly give this book a low rating, people will think I'm awful. I completely agree, the woman herself diserves all the credit in the world. The book however.. I found myself skipping through, just to finish it. I never really felt a deep connection or moved by the writing. Your review covered every point. Thank you!


message 9: by Fos (new) - rated it 1 star

Fos Completely agree! Thank you for your honesty!


message 10: by Reyn (new)

Reyn Graves I think you did a great job of giving an honest review to the book without diminishing what Jaycee went through during captivity. I definitely agree with what you said about the style--it is a bit juvenile and the reason is completely understandable. Without anymore schooling or the chance to grow up in a normal environment, the 11-year-old girl who was kidnapped never really got the chance to mature her writing style. Even though she found ways to grow up in her own right, that little girl is still an important part of who she is.

I also agree with what you said about Jaycee's healing process. It's pretty apparent that this book was an important part of helping her deal with what the Garridos did to her while also helping to educate others about the reality of abduction. Some of my favorite parts of the book were actually the reflections, especially the about how she collected pinecones without really knowing why until she figured out that "a hard and sticky pinecone was [her] last grip on freedom before eighteen years in captivity" (Dugard 12).

At the same time, I felt like the book was powerful, even if the style and contents made it difficult to read at times. In fact, the way it's written (almost like a child) enforces the sheer horror of what she suffered, especially since she was really too young to know what was going on. Jaycee Dugard herself deserves all the credit for not only surviving this, but also finding ways to be hopeful and to help others by sharing her story and creating the J A Y C Foundation.


Sharona Agreed


Sharona Agreed


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