A House in the Sky

A Memoir

Lindhout, Amanda

(Book - 2013)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
A House in the Sky
"The 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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Scribner,, 2013
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781451645606
Characteristics: 373 pages ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Corbett, Sara


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Jan 25, 2015
  • dixiedog rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett’s ‘A House in the Sky’ was indeed well written. While Amanda’s every day jailers were but boys, boys who were created by their environment and brain washed by their faith, their behavior was more like that of an animal than what we should all expect from another human being. Her captives were obviously monsters; men with no moral fabric what-so-ever. While one has to admire the fact that Amanda, a young women from Alberta, survived her ordeal, it was a journey that she should never have had to endure. Anyone who travelled as much as she had should not have been so naive, confident, and reckless. Her family and that of her fellow captive Nigel Brennan paid an equally horrible price for their carelessness; over a year or worry and a lifetime's worth of stress. The story was a little slow at times but I did enjoy this book. Senior Doctor-at-Bass! D. A.

Jan 18, 2015
  • PansyT rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Well written, powerful story of resilience . Really an admirable young woman.

Jan 17, 2015
  • axeman rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

A really interesting memoir of a Canadian woman's experience of being kidnapped in Somalia. It was compelling and controversial.

Nov 12, 2014
  • brian_simard rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Wow, a very easy read and quite the story it would probably make a great movie as well.

This book could have been very, very dark and depressing, instead I found it inspiring. Amanda's will to live, mental discipline, and imagination allowed her to deal with a situation that I am not sure I could have endured.

At times I felt tears welling up in my eyes at what she endured, I am sure Amanda has been scarred deeply by this ordeal.

Sep 23, 2014
  • niceauntie rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I really enjoyed this book, despite the fact that I'm not sure how I feel about the whole story. I had very mixed feelings about this poor woman's experience, fluctuating between apathy and outrage but regardless, I still had a hard time putting the book down.

Aug 20, 2014
  • ksoles rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Dark, dank spaces haunt Amanda Lindhout. As a child in small-town Alberta, she lived in a squalid basement apartment where her mother often suffered beatings at the hands of her boyfriend. With pocket change procured from collecting bottles, Lindhout found escape perusing copies of National Geographic she bought from the local thrift shop and dreaming of seeing exotic destinations. Years later, after much travel, Lindhout found herself incarcerated in another nightmarish room, this one in Somalia. "A House in the Sky" recounts her harrowing, 15-month captivity filled with beatings, rape and torture. It proves an extremely difficult and emotional read, but one that ultimately rewards its audience with wisdom and hope.

With talented wordsmith Sara Corbett, Lindhout has released a clear and powerful memoir. Though parts of the first 100 pages contain youthful platitudes and tedious biographical information, the story goes great guns when Lindhout turns 19. Most fascinating may be her description of the mental strategies she used to cope during her imprisonment and her elucidation of the dynamics between herself, Brennan, and their teenaged jihadist guards. After converting to Islam with hopes of receiving better treatment, she and Brennan were physically separated and Lindhout deeply resented the fact that Brennan, as a man, had greater freedom while she was left shackled in a windowless room.

A chapter describing Lindhout and Brennan’s bold, Shawshank Redemption-style escape leaves the reader breathless but even more profound is Lindhout's post-trauma mindset. She has managed to forgive her captors and considers the dire circumstances faced by millions of Somalis the story’s real tragedy.

The week after I finished reading this book my sister, nephew, and another Calgarian couple were held up in their home at gunpoint for 2 and half hours, assaulted and robbed. They are all fine. In Costa Rica.
I believe that kidnapping was a possibility but the robbers lacked the resources to pull it off.
She is going back though- not going to let the bastards get her down.

Aug 07, 2014
  • patriciabooth rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is a compelling true story that is beautifully written. It provides a unique and fascinating insight into the Somalian culture and jihadist beliefs and practices. It is well worth reading.

Jul 29, 2014
  • KateHillier rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Harrowing is indeed the word here. The first 100 pages or so of the book do not take place in Somalia, instead we get a look into the author's childhood and history of backpacking and traveling and minor journalistic work, but once the group sets foot in Somalia everyone feels that something is different here than in the other war zones that they've been to. I've read plenty about people saying that they should have known better and that they never should have been going there in the first place. While probably true it is far from fair to say that what happened next was deserved. The rest of the book is telling of the well over a year that Amanda and Nigel spent in captivity and how different Amanda was treated in relation to Nigel. You get the odd look at what the families and the governments of Canada and Australia were doing (or not doing) to bring them home. It's a terrible experience to read about but you can't put the book down and quite honestly you can't help but admire Amanda in her looking for compassion for her captors and choosing to forgive them.

A patron review from the Adult Summer Game: "Heroic and exhausting at the same time - this is how I would describe the character and events in the true story of Amanda Lindhout, a budding journalist/photographer who travels into Somalia for a news story, is kidnapped for ransom, and finally is set free some 400 days later. On each and every written page Amanda shows the reader how truly amazing the human spirit is and what the body can endure despite loneliness, torture, malnourishment, and extreme conditions.
Ms. Lindhout begins her book by describing the dysfunctional Alberta home she grows up in, the escape she realizes once she begins to travel abroad as an adult, and the many and varied life experiences the world affords her. But then she makes that one critical mistake - to trust in those with extreme desperation in a war-torn country. Her saving grace is the joy she finds in the everyday and ultimately, the will to forgive her captors and move forward to help the very citizens of Somalia.
I hear they are going to make a movie about her experiences in A House in the Sky; I'd very much recommend you not wait till that comes out - instead, pick up this novel from the library for your next summer read."

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... Travel gave me something to talk about, something to be. That I'd just been to Nicaragua or was thinking about going to Ethiopia seemed, in the eyes of the people I encountered at work, to override the fact I hadn't been to college or that I was late in getting a round of dirty mojitos to table nine. It helped erase the past, too, allowing me to duck questions about where I'd grown up or who my parents were. Among travelers, talking about the past usually meant talking about the just passed. The expiration date on old experiences came quickly. What mattered most was where you were going next.


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