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A House in the Sky

4.2  ·  Rating details ·  33,109 Ratings  ·  3,571 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 (first published June 25th 2013)
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Tracy There's a section on page 292 when Amanda is recalling different memories from the past as a way to find some sense of peace and happiness to hold…moreThere's a section on page 292 when Amanda is recalling different memories from the past as a way to find some sense of peace and happiness to hold onto. She starts thinking about her family and friends then states, "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 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."
After coming across those sentences, it made me think that "the house in the sky" is her idea of a safe haven compared to the various houses she has been held hostage in for those 15 months (the tacky house, the electric house). At least that's my interpretation for it :)(less)
MB The writers handle the violence tactfully and maturely, without being either inappropriate or gratuitous.

Community Reviews

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Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
“It was a lesson the world had already taught me and was teaching me still. You don’t know what’s possible until you actually see it.”

Amanda Lindhout, a freelance journalist, was kidnapped while traveling alongside Nigel Brennan, a freelance photojournalist, in Somalia. The two were held captive for 460 days. Where they were starved, tortured, beaten, and Amanda even raped repeatedly. A House in the Sky is Amanda Lindhouts recount of the events that took place over her year in captivity. A Hous
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David V.
Sep 03, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Patricia Douglas
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
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
Angela Auclair
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-said, lets-get-real
Deep breath.

I have been thinking about Amanda’s story a great deal since I finished this book. I have also read a great many glowing reviews that point out among other things; how well the book was written, how courageous in the face of extreme adversity Amanda was, how honest she is about her own culpability in being in that position in the first place, how remorseful she is about the ordeal her parents suffered in their efforts to free her and how humbled and self less she has become on the ot
Diane Yannick
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this prior to joining GR and hence a late review but as I pulled this out for my husband to read, I thought I must write something as this has stayed with me. This is one of the most memorable, shocking, fascinating memoirs I have ever read. Amanda Lindhout is an astonishing woman and the ordeal she went through - as disturbing as it was - transformed her into becoming one of the most courageous of women whom exist today. From the time she had written this, she has done amazing things in ...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
Julie Christine
A chance conversation with someone in a coffee shop a few weeks ago brought this book to my attention. As I read, I wondered both how this story and the publication of memoir passed me by. Did I perhaps read a snippet in The New York Timesin the fall of 2008, shake my head in momentary worry and sadness, and move on to Presidential election campaign squabbles, forgetting all about the plight of Amanda Lindhout?

I certainly won't forget her story now. A young woman, blithely tripping about the gl
Nov 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Lisa Regan
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
About 3 weeks ago a co-worker gave me this book to read. He warned me, "It's brutal." Since it was non-fiction, this really scared me. While I was finishing up another book, I left A House in the Sky on the end table and watched it with weariness, as if it was a wild animal that would bite me if I got too close.

After about 10 days of watching the book rest next to the couch, with the warning of it's profound brutality, I finally dug in. Oh my goodness ... brutal is an understatement. This book
Gina *loves sunshine*
I went back and forth on this rating, I wanted to give it 3/3.5 stars but in order to really do this review justice I'm gonna have to bump it up to 4 stars. This was a tough book to read! I can't knock in down just because what happened to her was so horrible!!!!

It is the true story of Amanda Lindhout and how she was captured and held prisoner in Somalia. In the beginning you meet Amanda, she's carefree, she's a traveler and she's not afraid to go where ever - dangerous or not! It set up in a wa
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing

A House in the Sky is an amazing memoir about a Canadian woman named Amanda Lindhout. This well written book is co-authored by Sara Corbett. It was on the New York Times bestseller list and won the 2014 CBC Bookie Award for Best Canadian Nonfiction.
Amanda writes about the horrible experiences in a factual manner that made it sound very realistic. I admire her tremendously for how she remained positive, survived and how she has dedicated her life to help others.
I listened to the audiobook narrat
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jennifer Rayment
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
They became guilty, one the same as another. I bled not for hours or days but for weeks afterwards.

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 is able to d
Anna Graham Hunter
Nov 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Luanne Ollivier
Sep 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jeremy Kroeker
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jeanne-marie Robillard
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Patricia Strickland
Sep 15, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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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...

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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.” 24 likes
“I, too, was carrying around my own fate. All the things I couldn't know sat somewhere inside, embroidered into me-maybe not quite fixed to the point of inevitability but waiting, in any event, for a chance to unspool.” 9 likes
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