I am often tempted to simply write reviews on books I read. You won't see those here but I have quite a few on my WordPress blog. You may check them out here: http://thecastlelady.wordpress.com and look for the category on books. Jaycee Dugard's book, A Stolen Life, caught my eye last summer when I was shopping at Sam's Club and I decided that it would be worthwhile to read. While it may not be a high literary work it certainly left a good impression on me not only for its lucidity but also for the wise content which made me feel a whole lot better about the outcome of her entire story. To be more apt it would've sufficed to title the book A Stolen Time. Her book showed me that she came out of the ordeal with her head still screwed on straight and her gentle character intact.
The proceeds from the book were stipulated by Jaycee to go to a special foundation she started (JAYC Foundation) to make sure that those who received animal-assisted therapy and support and services for families recovering from abductions and traumatic experiences will have the funds they need and to take a program into the schools creating awareness of caring about people. JAYC stands for her motto which is Just Ask Yourself to ...Care !
What I found particularly illuminating about Jaycee's account is that it was written in her own words as a part of her recuperation therapy and many of the chapters have reflections at the end about what she was currently experiencing while writing it. Those reflections give a true insight into what it is like to be a kidnapped prisoner and how humans cope under those circumstances. As I read it I realized that Jaycee is an exceptional person in her feelings, emotions and empathies. Many people won't understand her motivations but they will get a glimpse of how people survive well under the most dire circumstances.
The following excerpts are either those which I thought were particularly wise or give an insight into the honest nature of all the people involved in what happened to her. If you are unfamiliar with the details of what happened to Jaycee her book is more than sufficiently supplied and contains only truths. I only found one discrepancy in the book and it didn't involve her circumstances- only a dream memory which was unrelated to her immediate situation.
Briefly, before summer of 1991, Jaycee was abducted by a married man and woman, Phillip and Nancy Garrido, on her way to school. (Phillip was a paroled sex offender who was kept under psychiatric watch and care and regularly visited by parole officers.) They tasered this eleven year old girl, took her to their home where he stripped and humiliated her immediately, locked her in a shack in his backyard and repeatedly raped her for an unknown amount of successive days. This ordeal continued for eighteen years in which she gave birth to two daughters (the first at age 14, the second at 17) and was shuttled back and forth between two shack compounds under lock and key until they actually allowed her a beach outing, a nail salon visit (ironically, enough) and shopping at Walmart in 1998. It wasn't without close surveillance and by that time the psychological games played on her had made her fearful of trying to get away from them.
From the beginning of the Introduction:
...Philip Garrido believes no one should find out what he did to an eleven year old girl...me. He also believes he is not responsible for his actions. I believe differently.
From a clandestine journal she started keeping in 1998 after seven years of captivity:
I don't know how I would react to a man touching me after what I have been through....Not that I would know what that is like...I don't think the kind of love I dream about is real.
From journal entry dated January 31, 2003:
I can't stop myself from imagining me just taking the girls and getting in the car, starting it and leaving this horrible place forever....I don't even know how to drive, but I can still see myself doing it just to get away.
" " " " February 22, 2003:
I don't think I could survive by myself outside of these walls...Why do I have to miss her [my mom] so much? She hasn't been a part of my life in so long. I don't even remember what she looks like.... Sometimes I dream about her. They are fuzzy, hazy dreams...My last memory is of her forgetting to kiss me good-bye that morning.
" " " " May 3, 2003:
I feel sometimes like I'm still the same age as when IT (the first rape) happened. I hate this feeling. I want to grow up. But how do I do that here?...Being here has changed me.
" " " " June 6, 2003
Reading is an escape for me. I ask myself, what am I escaping from? I don't know, I just...maybe I am escaping myself. I'm not happy or comfortable with myself. When I'm reading I can lose myself, maybe even become like the beautiful women I read about. Strong, independent women that do things by themselves. I should be taking control of my body and getting strong and healthy; I put on so much weight from the babies, my body has changed so much. I just can't seem to get motivated. Nancy is always bringing in so much candy... Maybe one day when I'm finally ready to take control of myself I will.
" " " " September 2, 2003
I don't understand why I'm not happy. ....I mean I should be happy.... I just feel angry that I will never see my friend again [Jessie] or my real family.
" " " " October 12, 2003
I guess I have turned a switch off inside of me. In the beginning I did it to survive. Now it's just a habit....I've done enough crying for two lifetimes.
" " " " December 18, 2003
On a promo for the news tonight the press is speculating that the man that killed Polly Klass also took and killed me. It is so hard to express the feelings I'm feeling. They showed a brief picture of me and then the killer. That was so painful to watch.
" " " " June 27, 2004
Lonely, that's how I feel. Lonely and incomplete. I want to run but have no idea where to run to. I want to yell, but I don't want to hurt anybody. I want to say something, but I don't know what to say. Love is the easy part: it's the living without the love you need that is hard. ...Did I have a choice that day? Could I have chosen to stay home from school? I would have been punished, but my life would not have changed so completely as it did. Would I choose to be here even with everything that's happened?
" " " " September 4, 2004
...But he [Phillip Garrido] will never take responsibility for what he does. It's always someone else's fault...
" " " " Sept 21, 2006
All Phillip and Nancy do is sleep all day...Phillip hears voices...I work all day and they sleep...Maybe he will get the help he needs now from the psychiatrist.
From the concluding chapter, Firsts for Me:
On August 26, 2009 after Garrido was arrested for parole violation he took his wife, two daughters and Jaycee with him for his return to the parole office. In Jaycee's own writing the only reason why he so easily gave himself up in this way was because, "Nobody remembered me. I know it only fed Phillip's delusions that he was somehow above the law." However, that day Jaycee was taken aside, questioned several times by different people and finally could only write the name she was born with because she had become unable to say her real name. Writing her name finally freed her and her two children from the psychologically manipulative Garrido grip that came close to destroying her and she has been rehabilitating since that time.
I applaud the bravery of this young woman who could have easily just quietly slipped out of the spotlight and tried to heal alone. Her sensitivity not just to animals but all living beings impressed me beyond any words I can write in description and I'm so glad she wrote this account no matter how painful it must have been to write it. In closing this entry I would like to tell her personally that her life has only started. It begins now. Don't wait for the world to recognize the greatness inside you. Let your light shine and let people know how you feel. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain if you give the world your version of yourself. God bless and keep you for the rest of your many days to come !
All quotes in black are directly from the book, A Stolen Life
by Jaycee Dugard
© 2011 by Luna Lee, Inc.
Text in pink, All Rights Reserved by Evelyn M. Wallace
February 2, 2012
from Evelyn WallaceThe Castle Lady