I had wanted to read this book by Jaycee Lee Dugard since I read her Freedom: My Book Of Firsts (reviewed here on 6 April 2017), but the book was always on loan so I decided to borrow the audiobook instead. This is the first time I listened to an audiobook, and I found the experience a bit hard to get used to: I still prefer the print version. I went to another library the next day to borrow the Chinese translation. After reading a few pages, I decided the English version is more authentic, so I went back to listen to the rest of the audiobook.
Jaycee’s parents divorced when she was very young and she lived with her mum, step-father Carl and baby sister. She did not get any love from Carl.
One day in June 1991, Jaycee (11 years old) was kidnapped by a couple, Phillip and Nancy Garrido, and confined to a tent in their backyard. Jaycee was a prisoner, an object for them (in particular Phillip) to use and abuse for 18 years. This is Jaycee’s story, in her own words, in her own way, exactly as she remembers it.
Jaycee gave birth to her first daughter when she was 14 and her second daughter three years later. She was not allowed to speak or use her own name and was forced to be a sister to her own daughters (who had to call Nancy their mother). Her captors were a weird couple, and (especially Phillip) were drug takers, psychopaths, mad, insane and criminal.
From the time of her captivity (a word Jaycee used many times), she lived a life that’s not normal, she was afraid and sad, and didn’t understand what was happening, was suspicious, and suffered sexual and verbal abuse.
Jaycee only woke from the horrible nightmare on 26 Aug 2009, and through it all, her strength and determination enabled her to endure each and every day before she emerged from the darkness to freedom. Life is short, and we inevitable find that some time are wasted, but in Jaycee’s case, it is shocking and heartbreaking.
Why do ugly things happen? Is it fated? Sometimes things happen that we don’t have a choice or a way out. We live in lightness and darkness. We see hope when there’s light but experiences learnt during dark times teach us a lot. The honest, brave and dignified account is inspiring.
What makes this book different from other memoirs is that Jaycee harbours no hate but chose to tell her story so that others might never have to go through what she experienced. The book shows how she got strength from the little things she had and how when she regained freedom, was able to stay positive and contribute to humankind by setting up a foundation named after her.
On 2 June 2011, Phillip was sentenced to 431 years’ imprisonment without parole, and Nancy was sentenced to 36 years’ imprisonment without parole.