A House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda LindhoutA House in the Sky: A Memoir by Amanda Lindhoutsticker-burst

A House in the Sky: A Memoir

byAmanda Lindhout, Sara Corbett

Paperback | August 26, 2014

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about

The New York Times bestselling memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most remote places and then into fifteen months of captivity: “Exquisitely told…A young woman’s harrowing coming-of-age story and an extraordinary narrative of forgiveness and spiritual triumph” (The New York Times Book Review).

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself visiting its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road.

Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda survives on memory—every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity—and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark.

Vivid and suspenseful, as artfully written as the finest novel, A House in the Sky is “a searingly unsentimental account. Ultimately it is compassion—for her naïve younger self, for her kidnappers—that becomes the key to Lindhout’s survival” (O, The Oprah Magazine).
Title:A House in the Sky: A MemoirFormat:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 8.38 × 5.5 × 1.2 inPublished:August 26, 2014Publisher:ScribnerLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1451651481

ISBN - 13:9781451651485

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Memoir Ever This is one of the best books I have ever read. Amanda is such a strong and brave woman and I am so glad she decided to write this memoir to share her experiences and what she went through. She has so much inspiration and reading this made me feel so grateful about life in general. I would love it if she writes another book about her thoughts and her current life now that she is back home.
Date published: 2018-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing. I had the amazing opportunity to hear Amanda Lindhout speak at an event last year and immediately bought the book for myself and a friend. Not only is her story incredible but she is an inspiring human. There were 600 women in a room and you could have heard a pin drop for over an hour - talk about putting some perspective back on the lives we are so fortunate to lead here in Canada. Buy it, read it - take just one thing away from this true story. You will be better for it. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Favorite Read I finished reading this book a couple weeks ago and I am so happy to say that it was the best one I've read out of my summer novel list.
Date published: 2018-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Memoir I devoured this book in a single afternoon because I could not put it down! Extremely well written, and such a harrowing story. Amanda writes with intense honesty about the choices that led to her being held captive in Somalia, as well as her experience while waiting to be rescued. Would highly recommend to anyone who loves fast-paced memoirs.
Date published: 2018-08-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Eye opening I had the chance to listen to Amanda speak well before this book was published. I found her speech impactful and eye opening. When I read the book I was hoping for the same message to come across in her memoir, however I didn't find that the book did a great job of capturing that. Overall a great read, and I still recommend.
Date published: 2018-07-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Crazy true story A horrifying true story. What she went through was very hard to read. But also a reminder to be cautious and that we are not invincible. Good read.
Date published: 2018-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intense This is an intense and harrowing tale. Amanda's story is one of strength and bravery and how she endured over a year of torture and disturbing living conditions. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2018-07-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Harrowing and well written I am always tentative to read books by people who have experienced something, but aren't your typical authors. This book surprised me in how well written it was. The fact that Amanda's story is true makes the novel that much more compelling.
Date published: 2018-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from intense This book has stayed with me ever since I read it. It was horrifying and intense and hard to believe that it was real.
Date published: 2018-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Book Club Fave! Intense read.....amazing story of survival....a MUST read!!
Date published: 2018-07-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good This book was at times difficult to read but absolutely worth it!
Date published: 2018-06-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Intense, Disturbing and Real To live through what Ms Lindhout lived through, and to write so eloquently about it; with dignity and humility is a skill I hope most never have to learn. Her honesty and openness of the terrible atrocities is both painful and inspiring to see the will to live, despite the darkest of days. Not for the faint of heart, but highly recommend for those who want an inside glimpse of what it's like to be a journalist in a foreign country as well as a tortured hostage.
Date published: 2018-06-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sickening This book gave me riveting examples to share with my daughters about how people with great intentions of adventure can find themselves in horrible positions. Don't ever assume that the government will save you if it is against their mandate. Even though they knew where she was every second, her suffering continued. I also read her partner's book. He had a very different take in many cases. I also saw her in person speaking about the book. Hard to fathom what she endured when you meet her as an actual human being not just a character in a book. I will never forget this book.
Date published: 2018-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Intense and heartbreaking This book was intense! It took me a while to get into it as the first third of the book was the author speaking about travelling to different areas of the world and the romances she had, etc. While these could be pretty interesting, and they did help me learn about her as a person, I still felt like that much information was not necessary. Her retelling of her experience was heartbreaking, while I don't know if I see her venture into Somalia as an inexperienced journalist as brave or foolish, in the end it doesn't matter, she was put into a terrible situation that no human should have to go through and survived. Her struggle through an unimaginable horror is inspirational and at the end of the book, through tears, I can say that this book will stick with me for a long time. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible. I've had this book sitting on my shelf, unread, for a little over three years - ever since my first child was born. I finally had an opportunity to read a book for myself recently, and I dusted this one off to get started - one of the better choices I've made in awhile! Amanda endured an incredibly horrific 15 months but has written about it so beautifully. The perspective she provides is remarkable, and her demonstration of the power and strength of the human spirit is inspiring. I recommended this book to no less than 5 people immediately after finishing the last page!
Date published: 2018-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life Changing A must read for everyone! Such an inspiring yet heart wrenching story.
Date published: 2018-04-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh.. The simplest way to explain my thoughts towards this book is that I felt conflicted. Although one cannot fully understand the pain and suffering that she endured, I struggled with her lack of... thoughtfulness, blatant disregard for consequence and seemingly self-centered approach to decision making. I found myself as frustrated with her decisions that lead to a series of horrific events, as I was amazed with her tenacity. I'd recommend it just because it actually made me feel something - even if it was annoyance.
Date published: 2018-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A difficult but powerful read This novel is a difficult read. Gut wrenchingly written in its' honesty. This is a memoir about Amanda and Nigel who are abducted and held captive. It is a raw and emotional account of what they experienced, their ingenuity to protect themselves and their resiliency.
Date published: 2018-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from intriguing This book I read in a day. It was intriguing and very detailed of what the writer endured when she was captured.
Date published: 2018-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful, a very powerful read I loved Amanda's story and it was portrayed thoroughly throughout this novel. Her memoir was so raw and real, that as a reader you will experience every emotion throughout her journey. Though the topic is tough, and parts are graphic with description, her story is moving. I became very invested in this book from page one and would highly recommend - however some topics are quite difficult and may not be suited to all readers.
Date published: 2018-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intriguing This book is very intriguing. It's extremely detailed and is constantly moving around to keep the readers interest.
Date published: 2018-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Horrifying and Uplifting Amazing read. Horrifying and uplifting. The strength of the human spirit is unbelievable. Amanda is awe inspiring. I can't imagine surviving one day of what she went thorough, let alone 460. This is a brave, honest account of a real life nightmare. Amanda's drive to find the good in people and each day, as a means of survival is remarkable.
Date published: 2018-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible read. I devoured this book in days - it's a phenomenal and inspiring read. A testament to the human spirit and a demonstration of female strength and determination - I recommend this book often to people looking for a good read.
Date published: 2018-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it This is a heart breaking story, hard to read in the sense that its horrible to think that she went through the horrors she did but at the same time I could not put it down. It was very well written and I really like how we got a peak into the cultural and geographical differences on many of the places she went. It also is really quite amazing how positive she seems throughout the entire book, she seems like an incredible person and I would highly recommend the book.
Date published: 2018-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Challenging Read The author's experiences were something that no one should go through, ever. However the author told her story in a beautiful way. This was very hard to read and I would not recommend to anyone who is sensitive to this type of content.
Date published: 2018-03-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! I'm not usually interested in memoirs, but this one was amazing. #plumreview
Date published: 2018-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from incredible This book makes you realize how precious life is, but also how it shouldn't be wasted... a must read
Date published: 2018-03-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Challenging but beautiful read This is a touching story about adventure, relationships, fear and gratitude. It is heartbreaking, beautiful and honest. I think this is a powerful memoir that is uplifting.
Date published: 2018-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Book! Very intense well written book by a remarkable individual! I couldn't put this book down. Highly recommend to everyone.
Date published: 2018-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful I read this book cover to cover in a matter of days. I found it very hard to put down and was completely inthralled with the narrative. Great story of perseverance and strength.
Date published: 2018-02-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read! I really appreciated the bravery it must have taken to share the experiences that Amanda shares in her book. While it is not a literary masterpiece, it was interesting and engaging to read about her life experiences leading up to a devastating year in captivity. She recounts her experiences candidly, and I found her story one of hope and courage for the future. If you enjoy memoirs or autobiographic books, I would say this is a good pick.
Date published: 2018-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing One of my favourite books. Amanda is very inspiring, very strong.
Date published: 2018-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! This book is a prime example how the choices we make can change our lives forever. This woman preserved through the hardships and she is an example for us all. I couldn't put this book down and would definitely recommend it!
Date published: 2018-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the Best Books I've Ever Read Read this book on a recommendation, and was unable to put it down. Amanda's tragic story leaves you heartbroken, but uplifted by her hope and courage. Anytime someone asks me for a book recommendation, this is the book I always suggest.
Date published: 2018-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from GREAT READ What a horrifying experience, I am so grateful Amanda was able to share her story with the world. I could not put this book down and found Amanda painting a story for me as I read her story along with her. I highly recommend reading this book.
Date published: 2018-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from GREAT READ Amanda's story is haunting yet brilliantly inspirational. Her resolve and continuous hope shone through each page of the book, despite the horrible situation she had to endure for far too long. It was an easy read, and each chapter ended leaving you with a feeling of wanting more. It is truly eye opening and reveals the power of hope. Definitely recommend.
Date published: 2018-01-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed I heard good things about this book was disappointed reading it. She had a rough childhood and then decided to travel the world, she became a country counter (person who travels to as many countries as possible) and then she got in trouble because of inexperience. She travelled to Afghanistan, Pakistan and many other countries; she even says that she should not have gone to many places because she did not feel safe and then she ignores her feelings that she SHOULD NOT go to these places. She got kidnapped because of stupid decisions that she made, and she also got others kidnapped along with herself. She then wrote a book about her kidnapping...
Date published: 2018-01-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from great read! So I read this while I was in Italy 2 years ago and it was the perfect amount of suspense and length. It is a true story about Amanda (the author) who is from Calgary and became an international TV reporter who would travel everywhere including war-torn countries. She was abducted in Somalia and held captive. SO INTENSE but also real so SO TERRIFYING.
Date published: 2017-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from no words this book left me with a lot to think about. No one should ever have to live in that type of environment or experience. Really pulled at the heart strings
Date published: 2017-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haunting but Amazing This story has stuck with me, I almost regret reading it simply because there's things in it I will never forget. It is an amazing display of the adaptability of the human body and spirit. If you need a wake up call on appreciating life itself, this is the book for you.
Date published: 2017-11-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty good. This book made me feel lots of different things, which is usually an indication of a good book. The story is unfortunate, but kept me interested.
Date published: 2017-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My new favourite book If you stop and think that all of this happened to a girl from a small Alberta town, it leaves you in awe. And all the more so knowing that she has forgiven and is living a healthy life. Amanda is a strong woman!
Date published: 2017-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read! This book kept me interested, all the way from beginning to end. Definitely would recommend.
Date published: 2017-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So good I really enjoyed this book.
Date published: 2017-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from the power of the human spirit What a fantastic writer! What a strong and inspirational person!
Date published: 2017-10-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from implausible Unless you live on an airplane, this is just not happening.
Date published: 2017-10-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing story What an amazing story. The things the author endured are horrible and it was uncomfortable reading some parts of this book. But it was also inspirational and a good read. It must have been tough to write and edit, but I'm glad this story is told and the writer and her family can have some good after all the horror.
Date published: 2017-10-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Read I thought the story was amazing, it was sad all that she had to endure in her captivity. I would have preferred a bit more of an ending though.
Date published: 2017-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from recommended I bought it at first just because I like the cover of the book. However, when I finished my reading, I feel refreshed and relive again as the author itself. I feel like everything around me should be appreciated; everything I owned worths a gratefulness; I need to say great thanks to whoever loves me and whomever I love.
Date published: 2017-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Still my favorite book This book is an amazing memoir it is gut wrenching in some parts but I could not put it down. No one should have to endure what Amanda did but to be able to write about it and become a top seller is amazing. Amanda's story is one I will never forget she displayed such bravery, overcame her past, and ultimately made something of her life. I will recommend this book time and time again!
Date published: 2017-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing I have recommended this to everybody that has brought up the conversation about books. Absolutely amazing.
Date published: 2017-09-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from yes quite insightful and overall enjoyable.
Date published: 2017-09-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful Book This book is wonderfully written. It is heart wrenching in parts and provides a look into a world that I knew very little about.
Date published: 2017-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written Deals with many difficult topics but is written in a captivating way
Date published: 2017-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Be ready to face an ugly truth Looking to get out of my own life's hardships for a while, I bought this book to provide some perspective. WOW! Amanda's story shook the heck out of me. Amanda's true life events have taught resilience and hope. Thank you for being brave enough to tell a hard truth not everyone wants to hear. Peace after devastation can be created. Dig deep!
Date published: 2017-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly recommend Couldn't put it down. Very brave woman.
Date published: 2017-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful and heartbreaking An incredible story of hope and resilience. Amanda's re-telling of her travels, and ultimately her kidnapping, we're so well detailed that it was easy to picture each day. Her account was chilling, and it made my heart break for the families and everyone involved. Overall, it was a captivating read (no pun intended) and it was hard to put down.
Date published: 2017-08-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Resilient! A very heart wrenching story of a brave Albertan woman abroad. I couldn't put this book down, very well written!
Date published: 2017-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from very moving and emotional even though i knew the outcome, i found myself constantly enthralled with the story and questioning what would happen to amanda. it was easy to get caught up in the "entertainment" of the story telling, to then take a moment and remember, this is a memoir, not fiction. over all i really enjoyed reading a house in the sky and recommend that everyone do the same.
Date published: 2017-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heart wrenching Couldn't put this book down. It is a horrible and disgusting situation, but her strength and hope is inspirational.
Date published: 2017-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this! This book caught my interest the minute I started to read it, & I didn't put it down until I was finished. The account of what happened to her was heart wrenching, however wonderfully written. It was a great read start to finish.
Date published: 2017-08-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Brave! Heart-wrenching and incredibly brave!
Date published: 2017-08-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting read. A captivating account of a traumatic experience. Would recommend reading Nigel Brennan's book (The Price of Life: A True Story of Kidnap & Ransom) with this one.
Date published: 2017-08-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Engaging Canadian Read I found this text to be filled with strong moments of resiliency, empathy, and redemption. While the author's experience is heart wrenching, I found her story to be an inspiring tale of a woman who never gives up hope, even when life seems impossible to endure.
Date published: 2017-08-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A House in the Sky This was a tough book to read. Poignant, hopeful, yet full of despair and promise, all intermingling and emotionally catching and keeping you, pushing your own limits to finish the story.
Date published: 2017-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating An incredible story of hope and resilience. Amanda's re-telling of her travels, and ultimately her kidnapping, we're so well detailed that it was easy to picture each day. Her account was chilling, and it made my heart break for the families and everyone involved. Overall, it was a captivating read (no pun intended) and it was hard to put down.
Date published: 2017-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very moving and emotional Even though I knew the outcome, I found myself constantly enthralled with the story and questioning what would happen to Amanda. It was easy to get caught up in the "entertainment" of the story telling, to then take a moment and remember, this is a memoir, not fiction. Over all I really enjoyed reading A House In The Sky and recommend that everyone do the same.
Date published: 2017-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haunting This book came exceptionally highly recommended, and it did not disappoint. It is spell binding and consuming and inspiring and nightmareish. That this actually happened, that it likely is happening right now to someone else somewhere in the world, is sobering. That a person can find so much inner strength and survive through such an ordeal makes my own frustrations in my life seem so trivial. The writing is beautiful and the story is masterfully told. Very early into the book I felt like I knew Amanda, I was invested in her life and felt like I was reading a letter from a friend. I will never (hopefully) be able to fully appreciate what she felt, and what she went through, but this memoir does a seriously wonderful job of getting a reader as close as you can to being there.
Date published: 2017-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from omg! Must read I literally could not put this book down. It was tough to get through at times, but her courage and attitude towards her situation was amazing. Truly a remarkable person
Date published: 2017-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Powerful Story I was pretty hooked on this story. Although it was a horrendous tale, it was riveting to read and eye-opening. I'm very happy I read it.
Date published: 2017-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It I loved this book, it's very real and honest
Date published: 2017-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Some parts are very tough to read but I really enjoyed this book. It gives you so much perspective.
Date published: 2017-07-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Ultimate Survival Incredible story of survival. Powerful.
Date published: 2017-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A True Survival Story This book was recommended to me and I can see why, the writing is strong and you immediately become engrossed in Amanda's world. Learning everything Amanda and her ex boyfriend had to endure at the hands of their kidnappers and the immense strength it took for them to make it through day after day is remarkable. A real page turner that will stay with you long after you've finished reading. I always recommended this book to family and friends as it is above anything else a true story of survival and hope.
Date published: 2017-07-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing insightful story Amanda's story was gripping and showed a little girl following her dreams which resulted in a horrific experience. The book's structure keeps you gripped and wanting to know the outcome. It was very relieving to see how she processed her experience and how she used it to motivate her to increase good in the world.
Date published: 2017-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievable! Incredible story, you won't be able to put it down.
Date published: 2017-06-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Page turner I couldn't put this book down! It is both very captivating and terrifying. Definitely recommend this. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-06-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Page Turner A real page turner. I couldn't put it down. This was an exciting read, that kept you on your toes.
Date published: 2017-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Devoured the book while I was travelling The narrative is very captivating and I found myself wanting to read a lot while travelling. I realised how fortunate I am to be free and was touched by how brave and compassionate Amanda Lindhout was. Some insight was given on the experience of hostages, domestic abuse, travelling and starting a new career from scratch which I found to be interesting.
Date published: 2017-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Influential I read this novel about a year ago, and this gripping memoir of Amanda's worldly endeavours and horrific struggles have caused me to re-read continuously. She tells a story that many others are afraid to tell. Her illumination of imprisonment, rape, assimilation, and survival helps to broaden perspective - which is one thing that mature readers can take away from this influential written experience.
Date published: 2017-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must Read The authors take a truly horrific experience and create a novel that is not only hard to put down but also impossible to forget. It deals with some harsh and difficult topics but it is still an incredible read. Would definitely recommend this to anyone!
Date published: 2017-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Possibly the best book I read in 2016 I could not put this down. I will definitely read it again and I have bought copies as gifts for a few people as well.
Date published: 2017-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book Deals with some very difficult topics but a very well written novel
Date published: 2017-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Powerful I read this book and could not put it down. It is both very captivating and terrifying. Definitely recommend this. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Horrifying and captivating An incredibly honest account of a terrifying experience. Well written and not overdone. My only regret is reading this on my honeymoon! This ones much better to be read from the cozy couch at home!
Date published: 2017-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Incredible Read... An incredible woman for surviving that insane experience and then re-living that experience to write this incredible, inspiring memoir that will stay with me forever. Vey emotional and though provoking. Reading such intimate details - the torture both physically and mentally - breaks my heart and brings me to tears. She is my inspiration, how anyone can endure what she did is a miracle. She is truly an angel among us. A MUST read !!! Definitely one that I will keep on my top 5 list permanently.
Date published: 2017-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It'll stick with you... I picked this book up to read as part of my book club, and it has become one of my favorite books. Being a traveller myself, this hit close to home. In fact, this book was so powerful that we talked about it for several book club meetings later! Excellent read. You won't forget it!
Date published: 2017-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful My top read this year, so absolutely brave and resilient of the human's will to live and overcome negativity. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Raw and real A raw and real account of intense suffering. What I appreciated about this book is that the author doesn't go into the most disturbing details for shock factor, but stays true to the theme of her story.
Date published: 2017-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic!!! Amazing memoir. So touching and well written. A must read.
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Engaging but Difficult Account I really thought this book was well-written. I had no trouble getting through it. I am surprised by other reviewer's comments, stating Amanda is an unlikeable character. I was rooting for her all the way. I completely relate to her desire and yearning to travel and see the world. I did not find Nigel to be very likeable. I am aware that this is a personal account of her experiences, so biases can come into play which may be part of the reason he didn't seem to resonate with me. I am curious about how things differ in his book. I think this book offers a harsh lesson on the realities of traveling and especially traveling in dangerous places. Anything can happen, never have a false security that this couldn't happen to you. I don't agree with some comments I've read that Amanda deserved what she got for ignorantly traveling to Somalia - NO ONE deserve to be tortured and abused! She made a judgement call and paid a high price for her decision. Anyway, this book kept me thoroughly enthralled, some parts retelling her abuse were difficult to read (even though she doesn't delve into too much detail)! I have recommended to many of my friends. A great read!
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inspiring! If you are a traveller and a wanderer at heart, you will be at home with this book. This account of Amanda Lindhout's capture in Somalia is heart-wrenching and will have you on edge throughout. This book is beautifully written, painting words so that the scene forms easily in your mind. Lindhout's account of events puts a pit in your stomach but the reader is easily awed by her resourcefulness, resilience and daring decision-making kept her alive and maintained her wits, if only just.
Date published: 2017-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED THIS BOOK! Such an amazing story! 100% one of those books you just cannot put down until the end. Very inspiring and powerful read!
Date published: 2017-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a story! A must have for your library.
Date published: 2017-03-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inspiring A very realistic account of Amanda's emotions and thoughts during her time in captivity, and portrays the human spirit very accurately.
Date published: 2017-03-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Powerful indeed A book that I found hard to read at times, but one that left me in awe of human strength.
Date published: 2017-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing read This is still my all time favourite book, I bought it about a year ago and recommend to everyone who loves to read.
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! This book is absolutely amazing. A very beautifully written memoir about a terrible experience.
Date published: 2017-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful This book is just beautiful, so powerful.
Date published: 2017-03-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from amazing this book is amazing, the author is brilliant
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heart-Breaking This novel is powerful, somehow the author manages to forgive and understand her assailants. Well-Written! #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Wow..this book stayed with me for weeks. It is such a powerful book that makes you feel all the emotions of what she went though.
Date published: 2017-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing powerful story I couldn't put this book down! The unbelievable strength, in a truly horrific situation is inspiring.
Date published: 2017-02-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good. Good read. My mother enjoyed it more them me though.
Date published: 2017-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wow this is such a great book!
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wow This is an inspirational book to every gender or person who wants to be bold and strike out on their own.
Date published: 2017-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow Powerful book and I felt the writing was fantastic.
Date published: 2017-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! I was given this book as a gift and am so glad I read it right away! As a female who's travelled solo in many of the places Amanda goes early in the book, I really related to a lot of her thoughts and experiences. Amanda's story is truly incredible and the hope she is able to maintain during her captivity is inspiring.
Date published: 2017-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hard to put down A really inspirational story of finding deep within yourself the ability to survive your worst nightmare.
Date published: 2017-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a powerful read It's Canadian and it's truly a great read. Don't waste time buy it now.
Date published: 2017-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truely inspirational A great book about surviving the unsurvivable
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing, a great read! Bought this book at full price last year, its almost half that price now.. you MUST get this book, the author tells an amazing true story. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth the read I read this book while I was still in school. I stayed up until 6 a.m. to finish it. Her journey is difficult to read at times as the gruesome and horrific ordeals she must overcome are conveyed in a manner that is not for the faint of heart. I highly recommend this book and have lent out my copy to several friends over the years.
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very inspiring Very well written and such an inspiring story.
Date published: 2017-02-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Definitely Read A friend recommended this book because I am a huge traveller and roughly the same age as Amanda throughout most of the book. It was a heart wrenching read, knowing that its a true story and could happen to anyone. I definitely recommend this if you love to travel. It reminds you to take extra cautions.
Date published: 2017-02-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing book. Really well written and great story.
Date published: 2017-02-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inspiring I read this book after seeing Amanda speak at a staff conference. She was a very powerful and inspiring speaker and I bought her book after the talk. I couldn't put the book down and finished it the next day. Her book is a haunting and inspiring memoir about her captivity in Somalia. She is honest and self reflective. Amanda shows compassion and forgiveness for people and has gone on to create the Global Enrichment Foundation to create more opportunities in Somalia, offering University scholarships to Somalian women.
Date published: 2017-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This story will stick with you Couldn't put this book down. I finished it in a few days, and was brought to tears more than once.
Date published: 2017-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! While reading this book I went through every emotion from sad to happy. I would recommend everyone to read this real life story about a Canadian woman, I actually ended up buying it for a friend as a birthday present too!
Date published: 2017-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book! Amazing book. Well written. Amazing story - everyone should read this one.
Date published: 2017-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book! This book was fantastic. Very intriguing and suspenseful. I enjoy stories about captivity (as strange as that may sound) and found this to be one of the best one's I've read!
Date published: 2017-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite! This is one of the most inspiring books I have read in the last 2 years!! Now an avid follower of Amanda.
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inspiring I can't believe everything she had to endure. Very beautifully written and incredibly inspiring
Date published: 2017-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible Bought this book after hearing about it from a friend. I read it in one night as I could not put it down, such a powerful story. It is by far my favourite book!
Date published: 2017-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED this book! Got this book as a Christmas gift after speaking with a friend about it. She recommended it and couldn't say enough good things about it. I'm so glad she did! By far one of the best books I've ever read!
Date published: 2017-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wow! Could not put this book down. Scary as hell what goes on in the world. Although you have to wonder what Lindhout was thinking heading into these countries with an attitude nothing bad could happen to her. She seems to have been very naïve at that time and got into a very unfortunate and terrorising situation. Thank goodness she came out of it alive
Date published: 2017-01-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Courageous! This book was very eye-opening. The beginning was a bit boring but overall, lots of respect for this girl and her mom. Hope they will recover soon.
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Chilling! Good read, worth your time, definitely gives you an inside view of what happens inside the home of a captor. Strong will Amanda Lindhout has!
Date published: 2017-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Powerful A great story of strength and courage.
Date published: 2017-01-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from eye-opening I love to travel and this book made me realize that it is not always fun and games. Extremely powerful book that I couldn't put down.
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing women! The recount of amandas story is one of a kind. This is a true story thriller that kept me up late at night reading about what this poor women went through and how she over came the hardships
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredibly Moving & Eye Opening This is an incredible story of the kidnapping and imprisonment of Amanda Lindhout in Somalia. I was amazed at the realities of Canadians being kidnapped and held for ransom in other countries - a sad reality I was not previously aware of. This is also an extraordinary story about the strength of the human spirit. I couldn't put it down!
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well written and gripping memoir Fantastic book on a current and important topic. Hard to put down. Absolutely recommended to anyone who loves memoirs. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Book-club pick Phenomenal book. Gutwrenching and well-written, it tells a deeply personal story of kidnapping and survival. I loved it!
Date published: 2016-12-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful memoir I don't normally read non-fiction and was pleasantly surprised when I picked this up before going on vacation. I sped through it in 3 days - very gripping read. I will say that the first half was a bit slow for my liking, but found myself unable to put the book down once we hit the second half. It was eye-opening and shocking what she endured. Well-written. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-12-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great non-fiction read An account of an unimaginable ordeal and how the author moved on from it to make a positive difference in the world.
Date published: 2016-12-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! What a great read...would highly recommend!
Date published: 2016-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderfully Written Great book, hard to put down.
Date published: 2016-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautiful story my new favourite non fiction book. this memoir tells you the struggles and pain amanda and her travelling companion nigel went through when they were kidnapped in somalia. a very sad, enlightening story on what they went through together and alone. sad that this happened to them, glad they are both alive and safe to live the rest of their life and tell the generations to come their inspiring story. i can't put this book down. i will always recommend this.
Date published: 2016-12-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love this Hoping to get to read more of this authors books
Date published: 2016-12-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible read. Powerful memoir. It is unbelievable what we, as humans, are able to endure and the coping mechanisms we use. I couldn't put it down. A must read!
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Incredible story! Really enjoyed this memoir and its thought-provoking contents.
Date published: 2016-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible This story is absolutely phenomenal and this book is written so well. I've recommended this to easily half a dozen people and I'm looking forward to reading it a second time (something I usually don't enjoy). I can't insist enough that you read this! It definitely lives up to the hype. Just buy it and read it already!!
Date published: 2016-12-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Book The story is frightening, something that no one should ever have to endure.
Date published: 2016-12-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Riveting Started this book at the beginning of a 26 hour train ride couldn't stop reading until it was done. Great book! The fact that it was a true story kept me hooked and I'm still intrigued as to how she survived such an ordeal without shutting down completely. Out of curiosity, I also read Nigel's book (the man who was kidnapped with Amanda). If you're going to pick one, read House in the Sky. It's written in a more articulate, forgiving and hopeful manner.
Date published: 2016-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! This is a must read for everyone. One of the best books I've read.
Date published: 2016-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Practically Turned Its Own Pages During a trip to Hawaii, this book was in the condo that my family rented - what were the chances, considering I was from Alberta (just like the author herself). I picked it up every moment of downtime I got. I didn't finish it, so upon arriving to back in Canada I bought the book for myself. It was a huge eye opener to read the hardship that this woman went through, and made me very grateful for the safety of our own country. Absolutely worth the read.
Date published: 2016-12-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Could not put it down ! This memoir was moving and I read into the night to see what happended. There were times when I was yelling at her to not be so niave. This book will have an impact on me for quite sometime. The power of the mind and what we can endure, this book it remarkable. Also in the news last year in 2015 the RCMP lured one of Lindhout's kidnappers back to Canada and arrested him. Her perspective on the entire situation is nothing short of remarkable it really makes you think about forgiveness what we have in our daily life to be thankful for
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Whoa. Grueling. Heart breaking. Compelling from page 1. I couldn't stop reading this. It's going to be on my mind for a long time. I need time to fully process.
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My New Fav! This book was captivating, and kept me intrigued the whole way through. Her story is shocking but amazing how she has responded to it and what she has accomplished. Not to mention an X grad!
Date published: 2016-11-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from well written This book was enjoyed by myself, my mom and 3 of my sisters
Date published: 2016-11-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic Very entertaining and powerful, it's definitely worth a read, I couldn't put it down!
Date published: 2016-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! Couldn't put this book down. Very inspiring.
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put it down! Loved this book! So inspirational! I could not put it down!
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great read I couldn't put this book down! Such a great read.
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Well written, but not a fan I read this as part of a book club, and probably wouldn't have finished it without the incentive of our next meeting. The saving grace is that it is a well-written book, but the deplorable treatment of her on her travels was entirely avoidable, and she just keeps going. Then there is the problem that Lindhout is not an entirely likeable character to root for to begin with.
Date published: 2016-11-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Shocking A frightening and scary experience.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Unforgetable I read this book three years ago and I still think about it. I felt that it was written in such a way that I could relate to Amanda Lindhout and imagine everything she went through.
Date published: 2016-11-14

Read from the Book

A House in the Sky 1 My World When I was a girl, I trusted what I knew about the world. It wasn’t ugly or dangerous. It was strange and absorbing and so pretty that you’d want to frame it. It came to me in photographs and under gold covers, in a pile of magazines, back-issue National Geographics bought for twenty-five cents apiece at a thrift store down the road. I kept them stacked on a nightstand next to my bunk bed. I reached for them when I needed them, when the apartment where we lived got too noisy. The world arrived in waves and flashes, as a silvery tide sweeping over a promenade in Havana or the glinting snowfields of Annapurna. The world was a tribe of pygmy archers in the Congo and the green geometry of Kyoto’s tea gardens. It was a yellow-sailed catamaran in a choppy Arctic Sea. I was nine years old and living in a town called Sylvan Lake. The lake was six miles long, a Pleistocene gash in the vast brown prairie of Alberta, Canada—well north of the Calgary skyline, well south of the oil rigs scattered around Edmonton, a hundred or so miles east of the Rocky Mountains, a solidly in-between place. In July and August, tourists came to float on the lake’s calm surface and toss fishing lines from the docks of their cottages. There was a downtown marina next to a red-topped lighthouse and a small amusement park where vacationers bought tickets to ride down a giant spiraling water slide or run through a play maze made from brightly painted plywood. All summer long, the sounds of laughing kids and the buzz of motorboats floated through town. We were new to Sylvan Lake. My mother, having split from my father a few years earlier, had moved my two brothers and me there from Red Deer, the small city where we’d always lived, fifteen minutes down the road. Russell, her boyfriend, had come with us, and so had his younger brother, Stevie. His uncles and cousins and other brothers and second cousins often dropped in on us for payday parties and ended up in our apartment for days, camped out in our living room. I remember their faces hoisted in sleep, their slim brown arms hanging from the sides of our chairs. My mother referred to Russell and his family as “Native,” but around town, people called them Indians. Our building was a white stucco fourplex with a pitched roof and dark wood balconies. The recessed windows of our basement apartment were small and narrow and let in next to no daylight. A green municipal Dumpster sat in the gravel parking lot outside. My mother, a fan of all things bright and tropical, hung a teal shower curtain in our new bathroom and draped a brightly patterned spread over her bed. Out in the living room, she parked her exercise bike next to our old brown sofa. People always looked at my mother. She was tall and lean, with dramatic cheekbones and dark permed hair she kept fluffed up around the ears. She had limpid brown eyes that suggested a kind of vulnerability, the possibility that she might be easily talked in and out of things. Five days a week, she put on a white dress with red piping and drove back to Red Deer to work a cash register at Food City. She returned with whole flats of generic-brand juice boxes, bought with her discount, which we stashed in the freezer and ate after school using spoons. Sometimes she came home with a plastic tray of bakery leftovers, Danishes and éclairs gone sticky after a day under glass. Other times she brought video rentals that we never returned. Russell worked only sometimes, signing on for a few weeks or occasionally a few months of contract work as a tree trimmer with an arbor company called High Tree, cutting limbs away from power lines along narrow roads. He was thin as a whippet and wore his dark hair long around his shoulders and feathered on the sides. When he wasn’t working, he dressed in thin silk shirts in colors like purple and turquoise. Etched on his left forearm was a homemade tattoo, a blue-lined bird with broad wings, an eagle or a phoenix, maybe. Its outline had begun to fade, the bird’s details washed into a pale blur on his skin, like something belonging on the body of a much older man. He was twenty-one to my mother’s thirty-two. We’d known Russell for years before he became my mom’s boyfriend, since the time he was thirteen, our families knit together by some combination of bad luck and Christian largesse. He had been raised on the Sunchild First Nation Reserve. His father had disappeared early; his mother died in a car accident. My mother’s parents, who lived about an hour’s drive from the reserve, ran a Pentecostal summer camp for First Nations kids and ended up taking in Russell and his four younger brothers as foster children. My mother and her siblings were long gone at that point, and the Native kids offered my grandparents a kind of second go-round at parenting. My grandfather was a welder, and my grandmother sold Tupperware—more Tupperware, in fact, than anybody in central Alberta, with regional sales records and a company minivan to prove it. For many years, they hauled Russell and the other boys along to church and prodded them through high school. They drove them to track meets and hockey games and to weaving classes at the Native Friendship Center. When the boys brawled, my grandmother sighed and told them to go on outside and get it all out. She forgave them when they stole money from her. She forgave them when they cussed her out. The boys grew into teenagers and then into young men. One made it to college; the rest ended up somewhere between the reserve and Red Deer. What nobody banked on, what Jesus himself might never have foretold, is that somewhere along the way, coming home to her parents’ farmhouse for visits and holiday meals, my mother—with her three little kids and imploding marriage to my father—would fall for Russell. * She called him Russ. She did his laundry for him. She liked to kiss him in public. Every so often he bought her roses. Early in my childhood, I’d thought of him like a sideways cousin, but now Russell—having moved directly from my grandparents’ house into mine—was something different, a hybrid of kid and grown-up, of kin and interloper. He did kickboxing moves in our living room and ate potato chips on the couch. Once in a while, he bought stuffed animals for me and my little brother, Nathaniel. “A funny little family” was what my grandmother called us. My older brother, Mark, put it differently. “A fucked-up little family” was what he said. I’d been to the Sunchild reserve a couple of times to visit Russell’s relatives, always over the protests of my father, who thought the place was dangerous but no longer had any say. Russell’s cousins lived in low-slung tract homes built along dirt roads. During our visits we ate bannock, a sweet, chewy fry bread, and ran around with kids who never went to school and drank cans of beer out of brown paper bags. Every house, as I remember it, had walls cratered with fist holes. I recognized the shape because Russell sometimes did it to the drywall at our house. My mother’s life with Russell might have been viewed as a kind of screw-you directed at all the white kids she went to high school with in Red Deer, most of whom still lived around town. My mother had left home at sixteen and gotten pregnant with Mark at twenty. Russell gave her an odd new cachet. He was young and mildly handsome and came from a place that people considered wild and unusual, if also dirty and poor. My mother wore beaded earrings and drove around town in a little white hatchback car, a feathered dream catcher fluttering from her rearview mirror. There was also the fact that my father, her early-twenties sweetheart, the man holding her babies in the delivery room photos, had recently announced that he was gay. A fit young guy with a big smile and a neatly trimmed beard named Perry had moved into my dad’s house. When we visited, Perry took us swimming at the rec-center pool, while my father, who had never cooked in his life, made us bachelor-style dinners. He rolled lunch-meat ham into cylinders speared with toothpicks and surrounded them with a few slices of cheese and some celery, adding a piece of bread on the side. He laid our plates on the table—all four food groups duly represented. My father had begun building his new life. He hosted dinner parties with Perry and enrolled in college to become a rehab practitioner and assist mentally disabled people. My mother, meanwhile, worked on her own resurrection. She read self-help books and watched Oprah on her off days. In the evenings, Russell poured rye whiskey from a big bottle into a tall plastic cup. My mother sat with her feet resting in his lap on our sofa in front of the TV. More than once, he pointed at the screen, at the moment’s hot cop or tidy-haired young dad. He’d say, “You think that guy’s good-looking, don’t you, Lori?” It was a flicker we all recognized. “I’ll bet,” Russell would continue, his eyes on my mother, “you wish you were with someone like that.” A pause. The TV man’s face would seem, in an instant, to melt and reshape itself into something more aggressive and leering. “Right, Lori? That’s what you’re thinking?” My mother responded gently. He’d broken some of her bones before. He’d hurt her badly enough to keep her in the hospital for days. As the rest of us stared hard at the television and the air in the room grew electric, she’d reach for Russell’s arm and squeeze. “No, baby,” she’d say. “Not even a little.” * Mark was thirteen and on the brink of a lot of things. He had a scraggly mullet, blue eyes, and a washed-out denim jacket he rarely removed. He was a solitary kid, given to roaming, the devoted owner of a slingshot made of hard plastic. Nathaniel, meanwhile, was six years old and had a cyst on his lower-right eyelid, giving him a baleful look. My mom and Russell doted on him, calling him “Bud” and “Little Buddy.” At night he slept in the bunk beneath mine, clutching a stuffed rabbit. It was Mark I followed around, trailing him like a dinghy behind a boat. “Check this out,” he said one day after school as we stood in front of the green Dumpster outside our apartment building. This was several weeks after we’d moved to Sylvan Lake, a warm afternoon in early fall. I was in fourth grade, and Mark had just started middle school. Neither one of us had many friends. The kids in our new town instantly had read us as poor and uninteresting. Mark planted his hands on the lip of the bin and boosted himself upward, slinging a leg over and dropping inside. Seconds later, his head bobbed up again, his face flushed, his hand wrapped around an empty Labatt bottle. He waved it at me. “Come on, Amanda,” he said, “there’s money in here.” Our Dumpster served as an openmouthed repository for the whole neighborhood’s trash, collected by a town truck every Wednesday. It became my brother’s version of a country club swimming pool. The interior, even on the crispest days of October, was soft and damp like an old leaf pile, smelling like sour milk. The two of us slid between mounded bags, their skins greased by leaked liquids and loose trash, our voices ringing tightly off the walls. Mark ripped into sealed garbage bags, pitching cans and bottles out onto the grassy strip in front of the apartment, rooting up lost quarters, old lipsticks, pill bottles, and Magic Markers, most of which he stuffed into his back pocket or tossed in my direction. Once he held up a fuzzy pink sweater, just my size, and gave a little shrug of outrage. “Jeez, what’s wrong with people?” We loaded the empties into plastic shopping bags and, smelling like old food and malt, carried them to the bottle depot in town. Twenty cans equaled a dollar. One Food City bag usually held fifteen cans. One bag x fifteen cans x five cents = seventy-five cents. A dollar-fifty for two bags; three bucks for four. And then the sum total divided in two—half for Mark and half for me. No fourth-grade math lesson could compare. The real money lay in what we called sixties or sixty-pounders—terms gleaned from Russell—the hefty sixty-ounce liquor bottles that got us an easy two dollars from the bottle depot man. These were our gold. Over time, Mark and I began to travel, a few blocks north and south of our street, over to the cul-de-sacs where single families lived in bungalows instead of apartments, visiting five or six garbage bins regularly. Better real estate, for the most part, meant better garbage. You’d be surprised at what people throw away, even poor people. You might find a doll with a missing arm or a perfectly good videotape of a perfectly good movie. I remember finding an emptied-out wallet, brown leather, with a delicate gold clasp. Another time I found a pristine white handkerchief with smiling cartoon characters embroidered on it. I kept them both for years, the handkerchief folded up neatly inside the wallet, a reminder of all that was pretty and still to be found. * I almost always blew my bottle money in one place, at a thrift store by the lake. The store was underlit and arranged like a rabbit’s warren, selling old clothes, porcelain knickknacks, and the literary detritus of summertime tourists—fat Tom Clancy thrillers and everything by Danielle Steel. The National Geographics were kept on a shelf in a far corner, their yellow spines facing outward and neatly aligned. Lured by what I saw on the covers, I took home whatever I could afford. I snapped up the mossy temples at Angkor and skeletons brushed free of volcano ash on Vesuvius. When the magazine asked ARE THE SWISS FORESTS IN PERIL?, I was pretty sure I needed to know. This is not to say that I didn’t, in equal measure, rummage through the Archie comics sold new in a different corner of the store, studying Veronica’s clingy clothes and Betty’s pert ponytail, the sultry millionaire’s daughter versus the sweet, earnest go-getter. Theirs was a language I was only just starting to understand. I kept the Archies in a drawer but put the National Geographics on a table in my bedroom. By Thanksgiving, I had accumulated probably two dozen. Sometimes I would fan them out like I’d seen on the coffee tables at the homes of some of the fancier kids from my old school. My uncle Tony—my father’s brother and the richest person in our family—was a subscriber. At night, in my top bunk in Sylvan Lake, I went through the magazines page by page, feeling awe for what they suggested about the world. There were Hungarian cowboys and Austrian nuns and Parisian women spraying their hair before going out for the night. In China, a nomad woman churned yak yogurt into yak butter. In Jordan, Palestinian kids lived in tents the color of potatoes. And somewhere in the Balkan Mountains, there was a bear who danced with a gypsy. The world sucked the dankness out of the carpet in our basement apartment. It de-iced the walkway outside, lifted the lead out of the sky over the plains. When at school a girl named Erica called across the hallway that I was a dirty kid, I shrugged like it didn’t matter. My plan was to move on, far away from my school and street and from girls named Erica. * One evening just before I started fifth grade, Carrie Crowfoot and I went walking around town. Carrie was a beautiful Blackfoot girl, a year older than I was, and one of my few friends. She had long black hair and almond-shaped eyes and eyelashes that stuck straight out. She was related to Russell somehow and had moved with her mother and brothers from the Sunchild reservation to Sylvan Lake. She lived in a house a few doors down from the thrift store and never went to school. At ten years old and with no money, Carrie still managed to work a brassy kind of glamour. She sassed the patronizing shopkeeper who sold us five-cent pieces of gum and bragged to me about various kids she’d beaten up when she lived at the reserve. When she came to my house, she never looked twice at our ratty furniture or Russell’s stray cousins lounging boozily in our chairs. I liked that she’d pronounced the dinner of crushed dry Ichiban noodles I’d served her “amazing,” that she’d recently enlightened me about what a blow job was. We wandered along Lakeshore Drive, heading toward the amusement park. A cool wind had picked up over the water. It was early September. Tourist season was pretty well over. The sidewalks were empty; a few cars hurtled past. Carrie complained often about how dull Sylvan Lake was, saying she wanted to move back to Sunchild. She was jealous that I got to stay with my dad in Red Deer on weekends. I might have told her it was nothing to envy, but the truth was, I counted down the days. My father’s house had plush carpeting and thick walls. I had my own bedroom with a brown ruffled bedspread and a cassette player with New Kids on the Block tapes and a collection of new paperbacks, entire sets of the Baby-sitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins series. I said nothing about any of it to Carrie. At the marina, rows of powerboats floated in their dock slips. The amusement park lay dormant. The fiberglass waterslide stood drained for the night, skeletal against a pink sky. “You ever seen what’s in there?” Carrie asked, kicking a foot against a shuttered ticket kiosk. I shook my head. Before long, she’d found a way to pull herself up from the top of a garbage bin to straddle the high wall of the Crazy Maze, which zigzagged like a cattle fence around one edge of the park. Abruptly, she disappeared behind it. I heard sneakers hit pavement and then a laugh. I was a frightened kid, almost all the time. I was scared of the dark and I was scared of strangers and I was scared of breaking bones and also of going to doctors. I was scared of the police, who sometimes came to our house when Russell’s crew got noisy in our living room. I was afraid of heights. I was afraid of making decisions. I didn’t like dogs. I was supremely afraid of being laughed at. And in this moment, I had a sure feeling about what would happen next: Not wanting Carrie to make fun of me, I would scramble up the wall, get dizzy, fall down, break some bones. The police would come—strangers, all of them—and they would bring their dogs. Naturally, this would all happen in the dark, and then I’d have to go to the doctor. Which was why I almost turned on my heel and ran. But the way home was dark now, too, and I could hear Carrie calling from inside the maze. I heaved myself up onto the garbage can and boosted myself to the top of the wall. Then I jumped. As I landed, Carrie took off running. In the dim light, her hair seemed to glint blue. The interior walls had been painted with bright amateur renderings of clowns and cowboys and silly monsters—whatever would amp up the joy and light terror of summertime kids running free. Carrie Crowfoot and I would be friends only another six months. Her mother would move the family back to the Sunchild reserve sometime that spring. Before that, I’d start to get more interested in the kids I met at school and in school itself, getting chosen for an enrichment group for advanced students. Carrie would remain an outlier, uninterested in school and seemingly not required to go. A few years later, when I was finishing middle school, I would hear from my grandmother that Carrie had a baby. I wouldn’t know much more about how things went for her, because eventually, my family would purge all of them from our lives, Russell and Carrie and most everyone we knew during this time. Inside the maze that night, though, she was impossible not to follow. We were fast, corkscrewing around corners, screeching to a stop when we hit an abrupt dead end. When I think back on it, I imagine we might have squealed as we ran, heady with the moment’s disorientation. The truth is, we were serious and silent but for the sound of our thwupping sneakers and the rustling of our jackets. Carrie’s hair floated behind her as she charged ahead, sidewinding through the alleyways, caught up in the split-second decision-making about which way to go next. Finally, though, we allowed ourselves to relax and feel giddy, forgetting that it was dark and we were trespassing, forgetting everything that scared or haunted us, lost in the playland we’d never before seen. * High Tree, Russell’s arbor company, was having a big holiday party at a restaurant in Red Deer. My mother had been thinking about it for weeks. After her shifts at the supermarket, she’d go looking at dresses in the Parkland Mall, flicking through the sale racks. At home, she announced she was on a diet. We put up a Christmas tree in one corner of the living room, a raggedy pine that my mother had picked from the parking lot sale at Food City. She went to the Christmas Bureau in Red Deer, signed a paper attesting to the fact she had three kids and made seven dollars per hour, and picked up gifts for free. They’d been collected and wrapped by volunteers, embellished with colorful curling ribbons. I knew which two of the presents beneath the tree were for me because they were both labeled GIRL, AGE 9. A few days before the party, my mother got a new perm. She’d found a dress, which was hanging in her bedroom closet. It was black and shimmery, and already I’d spent a lot of time touching it. Now it was Friday night. Russell had showered and put on a pair of black pants and a collared shirt buttoned neatly up to his neck. He poured some rye and sat on the couch, pulling a squirming Nathaniel onto his lap. Stevie, Russell’s seventeen-year-old brother, was babysitting. We were waiting for my mother. The blow dryer hummed from the bedroom. Mark and Stevie clicked cassettes in and out of our boom box, fast-forwarding to the songs they liked, while I did math homework on the floor. Nathaniel, holding his stuffed bear, had drifted over to the TV and pressed his face close against the screen, trying to hear over the noise. Russell poured a second drink and then a third. He hooked one leg over the other and began good-naturedly to sing: “Loooori LoooooRIIII.” When she walked down the hallway, we all turned to look. Her black dress was short in the front and long in the back, cascading in a pile of ruffles that brushed the floor. Her thin legs flashed as she walked. She wore new shoes. As if following a script, Russell rose to his feet. My mother’s cheeks looked flushed, her eyes bright, her lips painted red. Her pale skin looked creamy against the black dress, which was so tight and shiny it seemed shellacked onto her body. We kids held our breath, waiting to hear what Russell would say. “Fucking A” was what he said. “You look awesome.” True enough, my mother looked like a movie star. She smiled and held out a hand to Russell. She kissed our cheeks to say good night. We were cheering, as I remember it, literally shouting with excitement about the grand time they would have. Russell put down his cup, found my mother’s dress-up coat, an ill-fitting mink number she’d inherited from my great-grandmother, and then he whirled her out the door. * That night we watched movies from our video collection. We watched Three Men and a Baby and then the new Batman. I made popcorn in the popper and passed it out in bowls. Somewhere in Red Deer, my mother was dancing with Russell. I imagined a ballroom scene with glittering pendant lights and wide-mouthed glasses of champagne. I dipped in and out of sleep until it was late and I woke up with a jolt. The TV screen was dark, the apartment silent. I pulled Nathaniel from his spot on the floor and guided him to the room we shared, nudging his sleepy body onto the bed. I climbed up into my bunk, a trace of holiday sparkle still lit in my head, and went to sleep for real. There was a surreal quality to what came next. There always was, if only because these things—when they happened—almost always happened in the middle of the night. My mother’s shouting would tunnel into my sleeping mind, gradually stripping the scenery out of my dreams, until there was no more clinging to unconsciousness and I was fully awake. Something crashed in our living room. There was a shriek. Then a grunt. I knew these sounds. She was fighting back. Sometimes I’d see scratch marks on his neck in the morning. The words were streaming out of Russell, high-pitched, hysterical, something about cutting out her eyeballs, something about blood on the floor, so much of it that nobody would know who she was. “You cunt,” I heard him say. Then a big thud, also recognizable: the sofa being flipped. I heard her run from the kitchen to the living room and down the hallway. I heard her panting outside our door before he caught her and threw her against it. I could hear him breathing, too, both of them seeming to gasp. In the bunk below me, Nathaniel started to cry. “Are you scared?” I whispered, staring at the dark ceiling. It was an unfair question. He was six years old. We had tried before to stop it. We had dashed out of our rooms and started yelling only to have the two of them, their eyes dark and wild, run to their bedroom and slam the door. If my mother wanted our help, she wouldn’t show it. Sometimes I’d hear Stevie in the hallway saying “Hey, cool it” to his brother. “C’mon, Russ.” But he, too, grew meek in the face of their fury. Eventually, a neighbor would call the police. A few times my mother had gone to the women’s shelter in Red Deer. She’d made promises to my grandmother and grandfather that she’d leave Russell, but before long they’d be back together. At the women’s shelter, there were shiny linoleum floors, lots of kids, and heaps of good toys to play with. I remember my father looking crushed when he came there to pick us up. The holiday-party fight wound down pretty quickly, my mother and Russell stalking back into each other’s arms, my popcorn strewn across the living room, the couch frame broken, a fresh hole in the wall. I knew how these things went. The next morning Russell would weep and apologize to all of us. For a few weeks, he’d be repentant. He’d sit in the living room with his head down and talk to God, looping through the language we knew from our grandparents’ church—dear Lord our savior in your name blessed be your son please save me from Satan yours is the way and in Jesus Christ thank you and amen. In the evenings, he’d make a big show of going to A.A. meetings. My mother, for those weeks, would have more power. She’d order Russell around, telling him to pick up his clothes and run the vacuum cleaner. But the needle on some unseen inner gauge would start to quiver and creep back toward red. The contrition would slip away. My mother would blithely go out one afternoon to get her hair cut and come back, by Russell’s estimation, late. He’d be waiting on the couch, his voice a flipped blade. “What took you so long, Lori?” And “Who were you meeting, all whored up like that?” I’d watch my mother blanch as it dawned on her that the jig was up, that before long—maybe tonight, maybe three weeks from now—he’d go nuts on her again. I couldn’t profess to understand it. I never would. I just tried to move past it. By the time the lights were off and all the bodies had settled, I was gone, launched. My mind swept from beneath the bed-sheets, up the stairs, and far away, out over the silky deserts and foaming seawaters of my National Geographic collection, through forests full of green-eyed night creatures and temples high on hills. I was picturing orchids, urchins, manatees, chimps. I saw Saudi girls on a swing set and cells bubbling under a microscope, each one its own waiting miracle. I saw pandas, lemurs, loons. I saw Sistine angels and Masai warriors. My world, I was pretty certain, was elsewhere.