Louise's Reviews > A House in the Sky

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
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it was amazing
bookshelves: crime, biography, africa




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 travel bug. The second two thirds tell the story of sad result of this plan: Amanda and Nigel, her photographer and former boyfriend/travel partner, are taken hostage.

There are portraits of the young boys who guard them, the English speaking principals who seem to make decisions, and glimpses of people in the outside world. There are moves from place to place. Their living situation is grim, punctuated by strange conversations and dubious acts of kindness. Words are carefully chosen so that the reader has to fill in the horrific details.

Both are aware that their captors have told their families they must pay in the millions for their release. They are vaguely aware that the captivity was not expected to last so long and that the perpetrators are running out of money to support them.

I had to stay up until 3:00am to see how Amanda and Nigel got out of their situation.

This morning I read some reviews most of which seemed pre-occupied with either Amanda’s bravery or her decision to try journalism in Somalia. Very little said of the captors who repeatedly abuse Amanda, or the Koranic verse that allows this, or the apathy or inability of the people at the mosque to assist Amanda or Nigel (although a few mention the brave woman who tried), or what seems to be an accepted business of taking hostages in Somalia and elsewhere. I would hope that if Donald/Muhammad (or others like him with ill-gotten gains) is studying in the US (or elsewhere) that there is some way that justice can be done.

This book isn’t for everyone. Two thirds of it is about fear, uncertainty, abuse and how hostages might find ways to keep their spirits up. That this grim content is readable (often riveting) is a tribute to co-author, Sara Corbett and Amanda’s ability to survive and recount her terror.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
February 23, 2014 – Shelved
February 23, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
February 23, 2014 – Shelved as: crime
February 23, 2014 – Shelved as: biography
February 23, 2014 – Shelved as: africa
February 23, 2014 – Finished Reading

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