Book Club Pick: A Stolen Life

“I feel that whatever I choose to do with my life, I know one thing, and that is I must not be afraid to live.” – Jaycee Dugard, A Stolen Life

I had heard of Jaycee Dugard before I picked up a copy of her powerful memoir and, in all honesty, I didn’t know if I could handle reading her firsthand account of my own worst nightmare. I asked a friend to read it with me, and it made a world of difference. Dugard’s voice is true, dignified, and an inspiration; her story may have broken my heart, but it also made me honestly believe–without any trace of irony–in the strength and resilience of the human spirit. I was glad to have a friend that I could share my experience of reading A Stolen Life with, as Dugard’s story is one that requires processing and, if you’re like me, a hug or two after you reach the last page. This is a story that needs to be talked about, and as such it’s our Book Club pick for this week.

When Jaycee Dugard was eleven years old, she was abducted from a school bus stop within sight of her home in South Lake Tahoe, California. She was missing for more than eighteen years, held captive by Philip Craig and Nancy Garrido, and gave birth to two daughters during her imprisonment. On August 26, 2009, Garrido showed up for a meeting with his parole officer, he brought Jaycee, her daughters, and his wife Nancy with him. Their unusual behaviour raised suspicions and an investigation revealed the tent behind the Garrido’s home where Jaycee had been living for nearly two decades.

A Stolen Life is Jaycee’s firsthand account of her experiences, beginning with the time of her abduction in 1991 up until the present. She alone wrote her story, and the result is a raw, intimate narrative that rocked me to my core while also inspiring me spread Jaycee’s ultimately hopeful and inspiring message: care for each other. Her voice sounds out from every word on the page, especially in the journal entries she includes from her early years of captivity; be warned, they are heartbreaking. I am in awe of this woman, who has taken control of her life and lives with love and hope, rather than with rage and hatred for the people who stole her from the street and the system that repeatedly failed her. You and your book club may want to discuss Jaycee’s attitude in regards to forgiving the Garridos, as I know this was a difficult topic for me.

Jaycee is an amazing human being, and her story deserves to be read. The best way I can think of to end this post is by referring to the motto of the JAYC Foundation, Jaycee’s charitable organization that helps facilitate support and services for families recovering from traumatic experiences and in need of healing: Just Ask Yourself to Care.

Watch a clip from Diane Sawyer’s interview with Jaycee Dugard. See more clips here.

Check out the Reading Group Guide for book clubs.

Browse through A Stolen Life.

Win up to 10 copies of A Stolen Life for your book club.

Learn more about The JAYC Foundation; you can even buy a pinecone to support Jaycee’s foundation.