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A House in the Sky: A Memoir [Kindle Edition]

Amanda Lindhout , Sara Corbett
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,143 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $11.99
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Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
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Book Description

The dramatic and redemptive memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most beautiful and remote places, its most imperiled and perilous countries, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity—an exquisitely written story of courage, resilience, and grace

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, Alberta, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road.

Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives “wife lessons” from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape. Moved between a series of abandoned houses in the desert, she survives on memory—every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity—and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark, being tortured.

Vivid and suspenseful, as artfully written as the finest novel, A House in the Sky is the searingly intimate story of an intrepid young woman and her search for compassion in the face of unimaginable adversity.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2013: Amanda Lindhout’s story starts as a breathless travelogue, inspired by National Geographic: as a kid in rural Alberta, Lindhout scavenged bottles to buy thrift store copies of the magazine, escaping through its pages from a violent home into a vast, vibrant world. In her twenties, she sought out every amazing place she’d always wanted to see, then kept going, loving the rush of pushing beyond the next border. Travel became her education, and a desire to make it her vocation as a freelance journalist draws her to Afghanistan, Iraq, and finally Somalia, where a hungry young reporter with guts might make a name for herself. Lindhout’s hubris can be frustrating: intellectually, she knows Somalia is the “most dangerous country on earth,” but she still talks her former lover, freelance photojournalist Nigel Brennan, into coming along. By this time, both of them have moved through so many unpredictable places unscathed that the possibility of real peril is a hazy abstraction, and their abduction by armed extremists comes as a shock. As their captors hold out for a ransom of $1.5 million, Lindhout and Brennan defensively convert to Islam and try to remain sane through covert communication, but after a botched escape, Lindhout endures severe torture and repeated rape--and survival means drawing on her every reserve. Written with uncommon sensitivity (by Lindhout and cowriter Sara Corbett), A House in the Sky becomes a moving testament to her ability to cultivate resilience and a kind of spiritual transcendence, even in profound darkness. Witnessing her experience left profoundly grateful for everything I have, more sharply aware of how I choose to react to circumstances beyond my control. Most of us will never live a day like the 460 Lindhout spent in captivity, but we all have our trials, and we can cultivate our own resilience. --Mari Malcolm

Guest Review of A House in the Sky

By Susan Casey, author of The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean

Growing up in the small town of Red Deer, Alberta, Amanda Lindhout dreamed big. She was a young girl with a curious streak the size of the Rockies, and though her wrong-side-of-the-tracks provenance seemed to promise only a flatline future, Lindhout decided to change her own fate. Out there, she knew, beyond a horizon dotted with oil rigs and trailer parks, magic awaited, a vast map filled with all things "lost or unexplored, mystical or wild."

How did Lindhout know this? National Geographic. Paging through worn copies of the magazine, she was transported to every spectacular place she’d never been: “The world arrived in waves and flashes, as a silvery tide sweeping over a promenade in Havana or the glinting snowfields of Annapurna. The world was a tribe of pygmy archers in the Congo and the green geometry of Kyoto’s tea gardens. It was a yellow-sailed catamaran in a choppy Arctic Sea."

And so, fueled by waitressing wages and determination, Lindhout’s travels begin, at first in idyllic ways, then accelerating and acquiring a degree of difficulty that would daunt any seasoned explorer. In short order, Lindhout—working as a freelance journalist—ventures into places like Kabul and Baghdad, Addis Ababa, the back alleys of Cairo, and then, finally, Somalia, where the stakes become nothing less than life or death.

Lindhout’s story is exhilarating and harrowing and several other brands of extreme, and it would be riveting however it was told. But in A House in the Sky, readers will find a rare and beautiful alchemy: writer Sara Corbett captures Lindhout’s voice and spirit with utter mastery on the page, and a kind of ferocious grace that I found breathtaking.

I know that’s a strange phrase, ferocious grace. Lindhout’s desire—her need, even—to live on all cylinders burns bright in this book, but Corbett deftly reminds us that even when chipping away at cement, “covered in grit and cobwebs,” while attempting a desperate escape from her prison, Lindhout is still that unassuming and hopeful girl from Red Deer, Alberta. The one who wrote to her mother from India, “I am going to Jodhpur. It is a city in the desert, called the Blue City, as all the buildings are painted blue! I am having the BEST TIME EVER!”

In fact, it’s Lindhout’s contradictions that make her such a rich character. She can be naïve and driven, generous and opportunistic, ambitious and fitful, sometimes all at once. At the same time she’s heading for danger, she’s making friends. And even after she is taken hostage by an extremist group, and her situation descends into darkness, she finds small measures of beauty and even optimism in her captivity. And within that simple, brutal paradox, Lindhout manages to stay alive.

What Lindhout endured during her 460 days in captivity is difficult to absorb, but Corbett is brilliant with the telling detail, and her writing is so strong that she can paint readers a vivid picture with only a few brush strokes.

A House in the Sky is a true story of a young woman’s radical adventures. It is absorbing and inspiring and textured. It is terrifying. It illuminates. It is the best book I have read in a very long time.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Lindhout, with coauthor Corbett, recounts her 15 months in captivity at the hands of Somalian kidnappers in this harrowing memoir. Growing up in Alberta, Canada, Lindhout used her spending money to purchase old issues of National Geographic. As a young woman, she yearned to venture to the exotic places she saw on its pages and soon found she could save up enough money waitressing to fund months’ worth of travel. Starting with Venezuela at age 19, she eventually journeyed to India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Deciding to pursue a career as a journalist, she ventured first into Iraq and then convinced Nigel, a former lover turned friend, to join her in Somalia. Four days into their visit, they were taken hostage by Somali bandits, most of whom were young teens. The kidnappers demanded outrageous ransoms from their parents, and began to treat Lindhout, far more than her male counterpart, with increasing brutality. Writing with immediacy and urgency, Lindhout and Corbett recount the horrific ordeal in crisp, frank, evocative prose. But what readers will walk away with is an admiration for Lindhout’s deep reserves of courage under unimaginable circumstances. --Kristine Huntley

Product Details

  • File Size: 2610 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (September 10, 2013)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A27XEMW
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,086 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
149 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read memoir September 17, 2013
Format:Hardcover
If you only read one memoir this year, make it A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett.

Amanda Lindhout is from Alberta, Canada. As a young child living in a turbulent household, she collected and cashed in bottles. And what did she spend her money on? Old National Geographic magazines. Amanda escaped into the pages,dreaming of one day visiting the exotic places pictured.

At nineteen she has saved enough money from waitressing to make those dreams a reality. Her first trip abroad is to Venezuela.

"I had seen this place in the magazine, and now we were here, lost in it. It was a small truth affirmed. And it was all I needed to keep going."

Lindhout repeats the cycle, earning, then travelling. She visits most of Latin America, India, Burma, Ethiopia, Syria, Pakistan, Sudan and dozens more. Her joy in exploring and experiencing new places and people is tangible. But, each trip she takes is a little further off the beaten path. And finally, she's travelling to some of the most war torn countries in the world.

In Kabul, Afghanistan she begins a career as a fledgling freelance /journalist/photojournalist - with no formal training, associations or contacts. With some success under her belt, she heads next to Baghdad, Iraq to work as a reporter for Iran's Press TV. Moving on from there she decides to head to Mogadishu, Somalia in 2008 - bigger stories might help her career take off faster. She wonders if an old flame, Nigel Brennan, an Aussie photographer wants to join her. He does.......and four days after their arrival in Somalia, they are kidnapped by insurgents from an Islamic fundamentalist group. And, they are held.... for 460 days.
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73 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic ! September 11, 2013
Format:Hardcover
I had been following the story of Amanda since the initial kidnapping in Somalia many years ago and the ordeals she was forced to undergo as dimly reported in national newspapers. It was horrifyingly fascinating due to, what we must admit to straightaway, the great physical beauty of Amanda, and the desolation of being captive in Somalia, said to be the most dangerous place on earth, which even aid groups like medecins sans frontiers had abandoned. Equally shocking was the idea that ordinary folks (her family) would have to raise a million dollars as ransom without the help of government or she would be killed. So I definitely jumped on the book when I saw it was finally out because I wanted to hear 'her side' of this big news story, especially the big question: why be so foolish to travel into Somalia? And how bad did it get, really?

The book does a great job of explaining her motivations, based on her free-spirited backpacker days obsessed with travel and seeing the world (and in fact these early chapters are really beautiful for those who like me are highly interested in travel too), thereafter the appeal of freelance journalism arises to fund her travels, which, due to its lack of success in for ex. Baghdad, led to the idea of venturing into Somalia which was underrepresented in journalism for obvious reasons.

Equally powerful is the understanding she brings both to her situation, her self-awareness of the mistake she had made, the situation inside Somalia, and the islamicism of her captors combined with their immaturity (mostly teenagers) and the absolutely soul-breaking experience of being captive for 15 months, thinking so often that death was a minute away.

What was a pleasant surprise to me was how beautifully well-written the book was.
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65 of 74 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
What a stunning book! Not just beautifully wrought, but physically arresting. Like finish-the-book-and-walk-around-in-a-daze kind of stunning. Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett tell this harrowing story with such acuity, and attention to detail, that you feel you are right there with Ms. Lindhout in her many travels, and hardships. And, as such, for the last 20 pages i found myself with tears steadily rolling down my cheeks.

It made me at once ashamed to be a man, to be connected in any way to the perpetrators of such evil, and also to be buoyed as a part of the human crowd who do such amazing, heartfelt work, who give of themselves, who love unconditionally. Who literally save people.

The book is crafted so incredibly well that I was compelled to keep turning pages... It was a very hard book to put down. Which is saying something, since it takes some fortitude to pick it up... this is not a light story. Brutal at times, excruciating, but shot through with light in the most unusual places. And what light! Just glorious.

Going in, I knew the basic story. On top of hearing about it in the news, I read the book jacket, and beyond that, the prologue. There is even a reproduction (in the hardcover edition) of notes written by Ms. Lindhout to her mother while in captivity. So, I knew that Ms. Lindhout was captured in Somalia, knew the length of her captivity, and knew that she made it out alive (the book in my hands being living proof). But as is so often the case, what i thought i knew, i really didn't KNOW. And this is just one of the stunning feats of this book: despite knowing the major points of the story, I was continually surprised, and pulled into this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sobering Book about the Cruel Inhumanity of Somalian Kidnappers
Ms. Lindhout spent her twenty-eighth year as a kidnapped hostage in Somalia. Her description of how her drive to experience adventures gradually led her to take dangerous risks as... Read more
Published 14 hours ago by Lynne T. Edgerton
4.0 out of 5 stars An Important, Though Frequently Coarse, Memoir
I am glad to discover that nothing in this book has caused me to walk back my critical commentary ('Amanda’s Impudence') on Miss Lindhout and her Global Enrichment Foundation. Read more
Published 19 hours ago by Gaboora
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful story of faith
I have read many reviews criticizing Amanda for being ignorant and believing she was untouchable. In the beginning she was. Read more
Published 2 days ago by courtney
2.0 out of 5 stars Uninterested Quickly
I couldn't finish this book. I felt like it was dragging in the beginning with information I didn't really need to know.. Read more
Published 4 days ago by T.Holst
1.0 out of 5 stars No inspiration here.
Sara Corbett, who wrote this book based on the recollections of Amanda Lindhout, did an outstanding job in creating a thrilling account of two people held prisoners for 15 months... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Sabbeth43
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I was almost weeping in the end, very emotional book.
Published 7 days ago by Joanne P McCarthy
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT READING.!!!
I REALLY LIKED THE BOOK. IT WAS VERY ENCOURAGING,AS WELL AS EDUCATIONAL. I LEARNED A LOT.
Published 8 days ago by Naomi R Lilly
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
The author's telling of her capture, torture and daily struggles was so captivating. You felt like you were right there with her in Somalia. Great read!
Published 9 days ago by Candy
4.0 out of 5 stars She went through a lot and came out a stronger ...
She went through a lot and came out a stronger woman.
Published 11 days ago by ritadaigle
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible story and so well-written - I could not put ...
Incredible story and so well-written - I could not put it down. Fair warning that the story is disturbing and upsetting, but it will also inspire you!
Published 11 days ago by Melissa L. Simpson
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