September 2013 Indie Next List
“As a child Amanda Lindhout escaped from her bleak, impoverished surroundings by immersing herself in the wonders and exotic locales in old National Geographic magazines she bought for herself with scrounged small change. As a young adult she found that she could make good money as a cocktail waitress and take herself to these same far away places for weeks and months at a stretch. Fearless, curious, hungry for experience and adventure she traveled the world, visiting dozens of countries, including Pakistan, Sudan, and Syria, making friends, taking lovers, taking risks, and making mistakes. It was when she decided to go to Somalia, 'the most dangerous place on earth', and convinced a former lover to join her there, that her hunger for adventure took her too far. Amanda and her friend Nigel were kidnapped for ransom and held in unspeakably awful conditions for over a year. Her memoir, A HOUSE IN THE SKY, recounts her ordeal, telling a tale of desperate men and boys who see the payoff as a way out of their own impossible circumstances, as Amanda and Nigel become weak, desperate and despairing, struggling to survive the horrific conditions in which they find themselves.
As hard as A HOUSE IN THE SKY was to read, I could not put it down. Beautifully told, with a happy outcome, Amanda Lindhout and her gifted co-author Sara Corbett take the reader to places one wouldn't likely find in National Geographic yet are so important to know about.”
— Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO
Amanda Lindhout reads her spectacularly dramatic memoir of a woman whose curiosity about the world led her from rural Canada to imperiled and dangerous countries on every continent, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity in Somalia--a story of courage, resilience, and extraordinary grace.
At the age of eighteen, Amanda Lindhout moved from her hardscrabble Alberta hometown to the big city--Calgary--and worked as a cocktail waitress, saving her tips so she could travel the globe. As a child, she escaped a violent household by paging through National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. Now she would see those places for real. She backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each experience, went on to travel solo across Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a TV reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia--"the most dangerous place on earth"--to report on the fighting there. On her fourth day in the country, she and her photojournalist companion were abducted.
An astoundingly intimate and harrowing account of Lindhout's fifteen months as a captive, A House in the Sky illuminates the psychology, motivations, and desperate extremism of her young guards and the men in charge of them. She is kept in chains, nearly starved, and subjected to unthinkable abuse. She survives by imagining herself in a "house in the sky," looking down at the woman shackled below, and finding strength and hope in the power of her own mind. Lindhout's decision, upon her release, to counter the violence she endured by founding an organization to help the Somali people rebuild their country through education is a wrenching testament to the capacity of the human spirit and an astonishing portrait of the power of compassion and forgiveness.