Home > Book, Book Review, Memoir, Reviews > Book Review – A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

Book Review – A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

Book Description:

In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.

For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.

For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.

On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.

A Stolen Life is my story — in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.

The pine cone is a symbol that represents the seed of a new beginning for me. To help facilitate new beginnings, with the support of animal-assisted therapy, the J A Y C Foundation provides support and services for the timely treatment of families recovering from abduction and the aftermath of traumatic experiences—families like my own who need to learn how to heal. In addition, the J A Y C Foundation hopes to facilitate awareness in schools about the important need to care for one another.

Our motto is “Just Ask Yourself to . . . Care!” A portion of my proceeds from this memoir will be donated to The J A Y C Foundation Inc.


Jaycee Dugard writes this about her memoir “A Stolen Life is my story — in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.” And judging by how the memoir reads – Simon & Schuster definitely didn’t employ any ghostwriters for Jaycee Dugard. And best as I can tell, the editor seemed to just make sure that there were no spelling errors and left her writing as is. If you’re going to pick this memoir up, expect a very simple unpolished writing style (which can get boring/frustrating at times as she does take awhile to get to the point). But the memoir is undoubtedly told in HER voice (in a child-like voice) – and that adds emotional power to her account. Jaycee said she wrote the memoir as a way to exorcise Philip Garrido’s psychological hold on her, and to show that she’s not ashamed of what happened to her – if anyone should feel shame, it should be the abuser and not the victim (but most times, it’s the other way around).

This is not an easy book to read. Jaycee Dugard gives an honest and unflinching account of what happened to her at the hands of a pedophile, and she goes into more graphic detail than I actually expected (or wanted). The book can be sort of divided into three parts: an extremely detailed account of her abduction at age 11 and the initial sexual abuse by Phillip Garrido, followed by an extended account of her subsequent 18 year imprisonment and constant sexual/emotional abuse and degradation (her only happiness is with her pets and two daughters) and lastly, when Jaycee finally gets reunited with her mother. In between, Jaycee adds some commentary further explaining what happened or how her present self thinks about the events in her past. There are personal family photos (including an avalanche of cat photos!) plus excerpts from a secret journal that Jaycee kept while imprisoned. I found the journal excerpts particularly poignant – especially one entry where she writes that her mother is just a few clicks away (Jaycee had access to internet) but she couldn’t bring herself to reach out.

It’s a question that Jaycee herself can’t explain – why she never tried to escape in all those 18 years in captivity (especially since she relatively had more freedom in the last ten years or so – shopping trips outside, access to the phone/internet). For her, it was mainly a question of just trying to survive and later on, trying to protect her daughters – and who am I to judge her. Unless you’ve been through the exact same thing she did, I don’t think anyone can say she should’ve done this or that. Jaycee was taken as a child, abused and made totally dependent on her abuser and her subsequent unnatural life revolved around fear. I’m just amazed that she actually survived and apparently is coping rather well at the present – even able to forgive the couple who kidnapped her.

Like I said, this is not an easy account to read. But Jaycee herself ends her memoir with hope and positiveness. She’s working through her own therapy and trying to be a good mother to her daughters, while reconnecting with her own family. I really wish her the best and thank her for sharing her story.

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard is available on Amazon as a Kindle edition ($11.99), Hardcover edition ($13.74) and Audible Audio Edition ($17.95). The eBook is also available at B&N, Sony eBookstore, Kobo books and Apple iBookstore.

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  1. July 26, 2011 at 4:12 am

    I watched a documentary about her not so long ago. I will have to check out this book.

  2. August 18, 2011 at 4:31 am

    I’m glad to read your review–we feel the same way about so many things. Jaycee is going to have a long battle with coping. I hope she stays as positive as she seems today.

    • August 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

      Thanks for the feeback – yeah, I agree with you – I do hope she continues to heal.

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