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A House in the Sky

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  48,656 ratings  ·  4,651 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 ont…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.

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 ·  48,656 ratings  ·  4,651 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
Elyse  Walters
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's impossible to read this book without it weighing heavily in your thoughts.....

Amanda Lindhout, held hostage for 460 days, in Somalia, made many stupid choices: she was naïve and foolishly optimist....
yet, those same qualities about her- may have been what kept her alive!!!

Amanda is a fan of Eckhart Tolle. She mentioned reading "The Power of Now" ...which reminded her of being truly present in her own life --that it can be liberating from the past and the future -- and transform one's thinki
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
Jennifer Masterson
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2017, biography
This was another brutal book experience of 2017! I'm exhausted! I'm late to the party so there isn't much to add that hasn't been said. This is being made into a movie starring Rooney Mara so there is that. I think she's a good pic to play Amanda Lindhout. Thank you to Mark for recommending this book and for getting me an audio copy! ❤️
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
“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 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, somalia
Review of the audiobook narrated by the Author.

A House in The Sky is the memoir of a young woman who is kidnapped in Somalia and kept captive for 15 months. We learn how she got to that war thorn place, how she was taken and how she managed to survive for all that time while being tortured, raped and starved.

I almost did not finish this novel because I deeply disliked Amanda pre-kidnap and disapproved of her stupidity, recklessness and selfish behavior. Let me elaborate. After some chapters ab
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
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
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
Feb 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lets-get-real, i-said
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
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
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
Whitney Atkinson
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

It feels unfair to quantify this book into a rating because Amanda's resilience and willingness to share her story is worth 10 stars alone. I went into this book sort of anticipating it to only focus on the abuse she suffered, but it actually was a full tale of why traveling fulfilled her and how she spent her restless youth pursuing new experiences. also, this book humanized her captors in a way I didn't anticipate. Obviously, they still committed horrible crimes and should suffer cons
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
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.

Update Sept. 8, 2019. The Post broke the short link and the new URL for the full review is now

Initial impressions posted: July 16, 2013:

I read this in about eight hours. Part of the reason might have been personal inte
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give it more stars. In some ways I'm just speechless..... At times I literally had to flip the book over and look at Amanda's picture and remind myself that she truly did survive this! How deep she had to dig within herself to keep herself sane.
This is a must read. She is a hero and has turned her horrific experience into one of giving to others .
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
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
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
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
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Oct 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
5.0 Stars
Video Review:

Reread one of my all time favourite books. This was such a powerful, compelling memoir. The narrative grips me in every time. I highly recommend this one.
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
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
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.
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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.

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8 likes · 6 comments
“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.” 32 likes
“By concentrating on what I was grateful for, I was able to stave off despair.” 12 likes
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