A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I had one of those friends at university who lived really close to the edge of always going too far. She abused alcohol, had a variety of sexual partners and walked home alone in the dark. I was always confused by her reckless behaviour and she both frightened me and made me jealous. She seemed to have no fear of consequence. As a woman I think we always seem to judge our interactions with strangers, and the dark, a little differently. The truth is that I envied that freedom. I was a young woman at the time when Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka were on the loose, when we went to self-defense classes and marched in Take Back the Night.
This book by Amanda Lindhout is pivotal as Amanda’s carefree travel quest takes a misstep and she finds that crossing one more border leads her to being kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured and raped. The degrading that she experiences is enough to put us all back into chastity belts by choice. It is also a book that needs to be shouted from the mountain tops because it is a uniquely female experience. Amanda portrays herself as going from the healthy to deeply depressed, degraded and suicidal. She allows herself to survive by simply leaving her body spiritually as it is tormented.
This book is a painful read, and there were times when I thought I couldn’t take any more. However because of its importance and biographical nature, I pushed myself to complete the circle. It’s the kind of book that everyone should read, that I have in my secondary school library, the kind of conversation that I should be able to have with students, but that I’d shy away from.
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Alanna, your review expresses how I felt when I read it the first time. Last year, Tara and I used the biography in ENG3C, and I know Nigel used it this year. I focused on the idea of resilience, but should I teach it again, looking more closely at the gender implications would be interesting.