Review: A House in the Sky

A House in the Sky is the true story of Canadian journalist and humanitarian Amanda Lindhout, a woman who was kidnapped and held captive for ransom in Somalia along with Australian photo-journalist Nigel Brennan.

An interesting and insightful read, the first section of the book focuses on Lindhout’s love of travel and explains where her urge to travel all began. Lindhout grew up in humble surrounds, and her entire family experienced many financial and emotional stresses. It was within this environment the young girl would read second-hand National Geographic magazines and dream of escaping to new, exciting places.

The book goes on to show just how deeply the travel bug got her, recounting the global adventures she had throughout the 90s, many in locations set off the well-trodden tourist or backpacker path. It was during her travels through Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan that Lindhout gained confidence on (and off) the road, and gave her the courage to enter Somalia.

When I picked up the book I struggled to develop any sympathy for a woman who would purposely put herself into a dangerous and war-torn country at the height of piracy and ransom demand situations. I believe that if you are that stupid, then your fate is your own. But the story for me was more about her emotional survival during her time in captivity at the hands of her abusers, as well as the fate of many women in these Muslim countries plagued by extremism. For 15 months she and Nigel were kept in captivity, chained up, with little food and repeatedly beaten and punished. There were ongoing ransom demands; however, her parents and family back home were so poor that they weren’t able to raise the money easily to get her back.

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This was an interesting and enlightening book, one that gave me a better understanding of Somalia and made me want to learn more about why this country is in such turmoil. It also left me with the feeling that the only people who can really help Somalia are the Somali people themselves.

Alex has been a Member of the Co-op since her university days, joining in 1996. She casually meets with friends once a month to talk about books and enjoy a cheeky glass of rosé.

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