Customer Reviews: Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings
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on May 6, 2014
I woke up at 4am this morning with nothing on my mind but downloading this book on my kindle. After seeing Michelle Knight on the Today Show on Monday 5/5, the day before her book's release, I couldn't wait to hear her story. I've read Elizabeth Smart's book, as well as Jaycee Dugard's book. As disturbing as those stories were, and I mean to in no way minimize their ordeals, I was absolutely OVERWHELMED with the cruelty and abuse endured by Michelle Knight (and Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus). All of these ladies have shown an amazing amount of resiliency and courage that I truly admire. LIke a previous reviewer, I too am not quite finished reading the book, but from the very first page, could not put it down.

Michelle describes, in terrifying detail, horrific details of her traumatic capture and subsequent torture at the hands of that monster. It is amazing to me that she survived, let alone found the strength to live life after all that she endured.
She also describes the pain of losing her son and I cannot help but think that if she did not have the hope of being reunited with her son, would she have survived? Her home life before reaching the hands of the monster was not by any means ideal. In fact, as you're reading about it, you wonder what could be worse? Poor Michelle found in a hell on earth with her fate in the hands of "the devil himself"

I think it is incredibly brave of her to share her story and I'm sincerely praying for every forgotten soul that has had to suffer because of monsters like Ariel Castro. And I promise Michelle, to keep a more vigilant eye, and not easily dismiss anything I may see that sends up warning signals in me. We all have common sense and judgement, we should use it. Perhaps if one of those neighbors had, life would have turned out very differently for those three ladies. I wish them all nothing but happiness.
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on May 6, 2014
If there is a human angel on this earth right now it is Michelle Knight (now called Lily Rose Lee). This poor woman never knew real love or normalcy ever in her life, and the one thing that kept her going during 11 years of pure hell was the love she had for her son, who was adopted and now whom she cannot see. I wept and ached for her as I read her story and I cannot believe anybody could have survived what she went through-- and survived it coming out so sweet and so strong and so optimistic. This is beyond a hero-- she is a saint. If you have been raped or molested even once, could you imagine hundreds of times, over and over, by the same man who keeps you chained, dirty and hungry? Having 5 babies beaten out of you? Chained like an animal for years, beaten and told you matter to no one? Tortured and nearly killed and threatned with death if you tried to ecape, and beaten when you did try? This just scratches the surface of what this amazing woman went though. I sincerely pray that the joys of her life to come are a thousand times the suffering she has endured. I pray she will know love from now on. I pray she can have the things of life she deserves, and I pray she can be whole and happy. God bless you, Lily, God bless you.
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on May 7, 2014
Even though I have been an avid book reader for over 30 years - I literally have over 600 books in my Kindle, over 400 in Audible, and thousands in hardcover - this is the first book review I have ever written.

And I am specifically writing it because of the HORRIBLE post by Kimberly Banks. How DARE she say such things about a woman who was literally kept chained up and brutally tortured and raped for YEARS just because maybe she "drank too much and wanted attention"? I myself have drank too much and wanted attention at different points in my life, especially when I was younger. So do I also deserve to be abducted, tortured, raped, lose my child, and more????

Anyway, enough about that piece of trash. The Kindle book and the Audio version were both GREAT. I listened to the entire audio book in one night non-stop.

I will admit that some tiny aspects of the story seem that they could be slightly exaggerated or don't make perfect sense. Michelle obviously made some stupid mistakes THAT WE ALL MAKE AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE, such as not properly preparing herself by confirming the address/location of the courtroom before she had to be there. But, really, who hasn't done such tiny stupid things in their life before?

I can't even imagine what she went through and her story is riveting and horrifying at the same time. I respect the fact that she had the decency to tell the story of the horrible abuse that she suffered but without going into gory details that I probably couldn't have handled hearing or reading. She knew the right place to stop when it came to the "torture / rape details" stuff. I think that shows a lot on her part.

And, being a mother of a young son myself, I can obviously tell how much she cared / cares about her son. You just can't fake that.

I think the narrator for the audio version was really good and did a great job of telling the story.

Overall, I definitely recommend reading / listening to this book. I truly hope that Michelle finally finds peace and happiness in her life. She deserves it!
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on May 7, 2014
I read this book in a matter of a few hours.
I can't remember the last time I cried while reading a book...if ever. Heartbreaking would be an understatement. The inner strength of the these women is beyond the scope of imagination.. My heart goes out to them and the torture they endured over such a long time. Michelles being able to forgive is a testimony to her inner strength. Her willingness to be able to move forward to find her happiness and not allowing that
monster to control the rest of her life is.....deeply moving on many levels.
Really makes you think about keeping your eyes and
ears open . If you get one thing from this aware of your surroundings. Take notice if something doesn't seem right probably isnt. Call the police..better to be wrong than find out when its to late that you were right!!!!
You could save someone's life..
May you all find the happiness you so deserve.
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on May 12, 2014
To the trashy person who says they are related!! How dare you!! Maybe it was your husband who did all them horrible things to her when she lived at home!! Why didn't you all look for her? You didn't care that's why!! You were to involved in yourselves to care! You also NEVER reported her missing, or made a police report! No wonder Michelle wants nothing to do with you! I don't blame her! You never cared for her! She is SO better off without out any of you! As for the book... This IS a phenomenal story!! Very touching!!! I could not put the book down. The story will rock u 2 it's core, but Michelle's personality will totally leave you with a smile and laughter that will make you giggle. Her story is so touching, and it proves, that anything is possible. It also shows the love a mother has for her child, is what kept her will to live AND survive!! I Would love to give Michelle, a huge hug for providing such remarkable courage! She has made such an impact in my life, and I have never met her! She has also made me open my eyes, to have things looked at when things don't seem right. I dont care what anyone says about profiting off her story, after what she grew up with, what she endured, not only with her childhood, but with the "dude", and having the strength to not only survive, but live to tell her story... SHE DESERVES to profit from it!! I hope god has mercy on her families soul, for what all they put her through, and turning a blind eye. U can see pain she has been through by pain in her eyes, and the truth could not be any clearer! This book was written so well, in many many many ways, that I will share it with my 11 and 13 yr old! It will not only show them that there are worthless parents out there, but it will teach them, that anything could happen to anyone, and not to be so trusting!! Michelle Knight; stay strong sister, and remember that you are soooooo loved by many, including from this momma, all the way from Hutchinson kansas. Xoxoxox May you for ever have the peace, love, and strength that you sooooo deserve. Rock on sister!!
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on May 6, 2014
An inspiring story of inner strength. Michelle is a beautiful , beautiful person . She was a butterfly with broken wings who was determined to fly in the sunshine again. I admire her so much. It was interesting to read about her life before and after the brutal sickening ordeal she suffered through. She now has the freedom to continue healing .
I hope she will continue to write , paint, and enjoy life. Her son will someday be close to her once again. I read this book worried it would only be about her ordeal, but it was so much more and well written.
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on May 10, 2014
I bought this book in support of Michelle. Her story about her life before and during captivity was horrible. Michelle is a beautiful and caring person. During her time in that monsters house, she was always worried about everyone else, Amanda, Gina and her son Joey, instead of herself. But instead of focusing just on that part I'd like to focus on her life now. Michelle hasn't let that monster stop her from doing what she always wanted to do. Go back to school, live her life as SHE wants to live it. As I read her story and finally got to the end, I often wondered how she stayed so strong, and survived. But if you are a mother, you already know. Our kids are our life, and any good mother would do whatever she could to see her child again, and Michelle did just that.

Unlike Michelle's family, no one was looking for her. And I am glad she has decided not to see any of them, until she is ready. My only wish for Michelle now is, is that she does what she wants to do in life, and all her dreams come true. Don't let anyone take away the beautiful person you are, and always has been. I'm happy that you finally got to tell your story and that you are free. And just know, you have a lot of people out there that loves and cares about you, even if you don't know them. I am one of those people.
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on July 14, 2014
I want to start this review by making a couple of points:
I live approximately 12 blocks from the house on Seymour Avenue where Michelle, Amanda & Gina were held captive. Also, I grew up in an East Coast city where row-homes were the norm. I don't pretend to be an authority on the topic but I can speak from experience of what it's like to live in close quarters with neighbors and how modern times have changed that dynamic. People would love to think that neighbors look out for each other and look after each others children; they know the relatives of their neighbors and are on first name basis with everyone who comes and goes regularly. That is the childhood I grew up with; where kids didn't act out or do things their parents wouldn't approve of because we knew one of our neighbors would call mom and report our doings (or misdoings) before mom even got home from work. We celebrated birthdays and events together, went on vacations together and, basically, "lived" together. Nowadays, people are often insulated from the other people who live on their own blocks. In my current home, I can maybe name 3 or 4 neighbors on my street, and I've lived on this block for 13+ years. If anyone was doing something nefarious in their home -- I would have no idea. Once doors are closed, you cannot see into a home, particularly if the shades are drawn and/or there is something blocking the window. The mentality today is: "I'm not getting involved" People do not (for a variety of reasons) automatically assume a boarded up or locked down home in the city is cause for alarm or suspicion.

The purpose of this explanation was to illustrate that the street and the home where these girls were kept totally masked what was going on inside. People (and some reviewers) are/were incredulous that "something like this can go on for 10+ years" and "why nobody knew about it" and "how this man was able to hide this for so long" There is also some small percentage of people want to 'blame the victim' as if it were their fault they were kidnapped in the first place.

I purchased Michelle's book during a long airport layover and finished it later that evening when I got home. It is not going to be a Pulitzer candidate - the writing (as many pointed out) is "not good." I observed that from the very first page. No, it is not perfect with regard to grammar and choice of words -- but they are Michelle's words -- as spoken to her collaborator; and it's important to the telling of the story to hear it in her own words. She is not well educated and there doesn't need to be an apology for that. I don't think it took anything away from the story. She did not need to go into gory detail of the repeated rapes and blow by blow detail of the beatings (some of which caused her to abort her fetuses). Some people find it difficult to believe how she described the living conditions; why she did not have a more close relationship with the other two girls; why she didn't try harder to escape; and, unfairly, they seem to doubt the truthfulness of her home life long before she was kidnapped. Others have also pointed out that there was no real "new" information contained in the book that wasn't revealed on television interviews. I work full time and don't have the luxury of watching daytime t.v. so I missed the Dr Phil show(s) where Michelle was featured. However, living in Cleveland, I do not recall much of Michelle's back story being common knowledge. I didn't know how horrible her home life was; that she lived under an overpass for awhile; that she worked for a drug dealer; the circumstances of how she lost custody of her son and quite a bit more. I learned a lot from reading her story.

What I also didn't know was that there was a connection of all three girls with their abductor/torturer. They were all marginally acquainted with Castro thru his own daughter (who knew nothing nor suspected anything about her parent). This, primarily, lulled them all into a false sense of security in accepting rides from him (I will presume that Michelle is correct when she says that both Amanda & Gina were kidnapped in the same manner - perhaps we'll know for certain when their book is released) Throughout the book, there are many instances where the hair on the back of your neck stands up.... where you know something bad is going to happen... and you can't do anything about it -- it's going to be bad and yet you read it anyway...... The heartbreak you certainly must feel is evident when Michelle explains: that feeling of dread when she first enters the house, when she is lured by the promise of a puppy; when she is told repeatedly that nobody is looking for her, that no one cares; the short lived happiness when she finally is given a puppy who is later killed right before her eyes; the feeling of disgust when she can't bear the stink of her own body because she was unable to bathe for nearly a year; the irony of gaining a "friend" when Amanda and, later, Gina are brought to the house. Because of the high profile nature of the later abductions, she thought for certain that enough people were looking for the other two girls and that they would be found. The sorrow continues when you realize that this simple yet kind-hearted and hopeful young woman was able to motivate herself to endure for the sake of her son whom she thought she eventually reunite with; only to know that she doesn't. And this doesn't make her bitter; she understands that her son has been raised by adoptive parents and she doesn't want to intrude on that family. She is happy knowing he is happy.

You don't need all the nitty gritty details to understand that Michelle, Gina and Amanda endured and survived HELL for over ten years. Living in Cleveland, we were often reminded of the two girls we knew disappeared as their pictures were featured regularly on t.v. and on the anniversaries of their disappearances, scenes of vigils were aired. None of us knew nor suspected that there was a third girl until the day they made their escape. For the most part, Amanda & Gina have kept a much lower profile and what we learned was mainly through Michelle. We learned that there was a television in the captives' house and that they were able to see (and thus be further tormented) themselves featured and how Castro would spitefully tell Michelle to look and see how many people were looking for and missing Gina & Amanda and nobody was looking for her. We learned that Michelle (and later Gina) were kept separated from Amanda and that there wasn't as much communicated between them. Michelle and Gina were literally chained together in a smaller bedroom (once they were permitted out of the basement) and the conflicting emotions felt when Amanda was close to giving birth. Surely, she'll be taken to a hospital when the time came? Surely, this will be the catalyst that may trigger a release? Surely, good will come from this, right? We all know that Michelle was ordered to assist in the birth and threatened with death herself if the baby didn't survive. As it happens, the little girl did survive and, apparently, was lovingly cared for and nurtured by the three young ladies. It was the little girl, whose presence seems to indeed be the catalyst that lead to the "rescue." It is believed (and expressed by Michelle) that Castro felt that the little girl might one day slip and reveal details of her "home" (to the point where he insisted the captives use alias names when the child began speaking, so that she would not let their real names be overheard by anyone else ---- it seems he doted on the child that he took her out regularly and that other family members knew her.) It's quite possible that Castro left the house only moderately "locked down" on that fateful day because he felt his days of secrecy were numbered. Who knows for sure?

I have no reason to doubt why Michelle chose not to reunite with her estranged family. Soon after their rescue, much was made over her decision not to have family visit her in the hospital and interviews with her mother and other relatives painted them as ignorant as to why Michelle wanted things this way. Read the early chapters in the book and you'll know why. What this young lady experienced is almost unbelievable. I cannot imagine one person (let alone three scared young girls) enduring a month of such captivity and coming out unscathed. TEN YEARS (and in Michelle's case, ELEVEN) of depravity, torture, mental anguish, physical violation, repeated rapes, cruelty, near starvation, and the list goes on and on...... You can't even imagine what that would be like, so don't even try.

For those who rated this a one star and/or trashed the book in their review.... you are so off base with those thoughts. If you want to say that the writing style is poor..... okay.... say that. But to ridicule or downplay Michelle's story because you cannot connect with it --- be grateful that you can't. Because the book left you feeling "depressed" or you weren't "moved enough" because the lack of intimate gory rape details..... I feel sorry for you.

To return to my original statements: this awful scenario was able to exist because, despite the close proximity of living with neighbors, people simply do not question much and take things at face value. They saw nothing out of their ordinary (this can be different things to different people) I drove by that street countless times -- nothing seemed out of place, no red flags, nothing to make people scratch a little deeper. In fact, the evening before the "rescue" we drove by on the way home from a car wash just blocks away from Seymour Ave. It was a perfectly "normal" scene, as usual. And in less than 24 hours, this street was global news. Yet, when the girls were identified; the city was unbelievably excited... Amanda was ALIVE!! and Gina too !!! But wait, there's a third girl too????? Almost immediately, the police were faulted for not knowing anything about this sooner! Police cannot be called to break into homes where they have no true suspicions that anything is wrong or someone is in danger. Neighbors simply do not have the same sense of community and familial feelings as they did in the past. As I mentioned, I grew up on a narrow little street of row homes. Those neighbors of mine were closer than some family members; we all knew when something was "wrong" on our block; we came together in solidarity, we cared for each other and still do to this day (despite moving away from the block we grew up on! ) Things are much different now. Back then, with no cell phones, internet, instant information, etc... we KNEW when something bad happened or who to steer clear of because he or she was "somebody to avoid" Now, we live in communities where we don't even know the last names of the guy who lives next door to us. On my old block, we even had keys to our close neighbor's house and they had ours. Now: not so much.

That these women are being hailed as heroes doesn't sit well with some people --- In these very reviews, someone had the gall to state that he's tired that "so-called kidnapping victims" are profiting from their ordeal. Ludicrous!

I suggest you read Michelle's heart wrenching story. You will thank your lucky stars that something like this has never happened to you. I hope Michelle (or Lily, I should call her as she wished to now be known) is able to continue on her life's goals. She is having some difficulty in trying to live "normally." She doesn't want to be a celebrity but she is choosing to live here in Cleveland where she is recognized (and getting flack for that; she is being blamed for keeping herself in the public eye) I hope she continues to identify and shun the leeches who seem to want to befriend her or reestablish themselves in her life because she now has a bank account.

All the best to Michelle and to Gina & Amanda too. To paraphrase a quote from an old movie, King Kong: when Carl Denham introduces Ann Darrow to the theater crowd he states: "I want to introduce to you a woman who has lived through a nightmare that no woman has ever dreamed....... the bravest girl I know......" Before anyone else chooses to belittle any of these women or criticize them for writing a book that they profit from.... think about this.... Would YOU want to spend one week walking in their shoes? I didn't think so.
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on May 6, 2014
Michelle's recounting of her childhood, abduction, and years of captivity and unspeakable abuse brought me to tears. By the end of her memoir, I was smiling with her. I grew up in the Cleveland area and know from experience many of the conditions in the worst parts of the city. I was familiar with the media coverage surrounding the kidnappings of Amanda and Gina, and was especially shaken by the fact that they are my age and were taken from a neighborhood I'd spent time in as a teen. Michelle tells her story in way that has you living every moment with her, all while displaying a strength of spirit that I can not begin to imagine. She is truly an inspiring soul. After reading every word in less than 12 hours, I'm left with the feeling of wishing I could know her, hug her, and tell her how amazing she is. Only the strongest and most wise of souls can endure this kind of abuse and come out the other end so compassionate to others. You've done God's work darling, you showed that in the midst of suffocation, love is all sustaining. May your struggling be over forever and may your new life bring more blessing than even you, the brave dreamer, could have hoped.
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on May 12, 2014
Being as I am from Cleveland and was raised in the same area these girls were taken from, this really has shaken me up. The entire city of Cleveland is/has been and will always be affected by this tragedy.....and the miracle that came out of it.
Michelle's book is a raw, real, and descriptive. You can imagine exactly what she went through as you're reading it. She gave a true depth and insight to this. It's a must read!!!!!!!
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