Imagine you’re 11 years old and are on your way to the bus stop to grab the school bus for school. You are running a little late and are hurrying to make it on time. You are a bit of a daydreamer and aren’t really aware of your surroundings. Next thing you know a strange car has pulled up beside you, you are assaulted with a stun gun and thrown in the back seat of a car. You have a blanket thrown on top of you and are unaware of what this is or why its happening. Welcome to the nightmare that was Jaycee Dugard’s life.
In “A Stolen Life” Jaycee Dugard writes very honestly and candidly about the nightmare that was her life for 18 years. She was abducted by known sex offender Philip Garrido and his wife Nancy. They took her two hours away from where she lived in South Lake Tahoe, California and kept her in a soundproof room in their backyard. She was handcuffed with fur covered handcuffs. Philip Garrido became her only human contact. He would bring her fast food and tell her funny stories, apparently classic modus operandi for a pedophile. She had no water in this room, no toothbrush, didn’t even have a bed. She lay in a pile of blankets like an animal. Her toilet was a bucket that Garrido brought to her once a day. There were two doors on the room, and when Garrido would leave he would lock them both. There were towels over the windows on the inside and bars on the windows on the outside.
Approximately one week after abducting Jaycee, Philip Garrido raped her. She knew nothing about sex; had no inkling about sexual abuse. He told her that if she didn’t move around too much it wouldn’t hurt so bad. He told her that she was helping him with his “sexual problem”. He told her that she was helping him so that he “didn’t have to hurt other little girls”.
Garrido did a lot of drugs, stuff he called “crank”. When he would go on a binge, he and Dugard would go on what he called “runs”. These “runs” were marathon sex days where he would force her to dress provocatively, masterbate him, perform fellatio on him and have sex with him.
Jaycee Dugard gave birth to her first child from this madman at the age of 14. She had no clue about being a mother. She was just a child herself. But she didn’t feel alone, she says in the book, when she had the baby. She had something that was hers. Her second child was born when she was 17.
Garrido was often visited by parole officers to make sure he wasn’t violating the conditions of his parole. Yet not one of them seemed to check his backyard or his surroundings. The doctors that he saw seemed more to enable his drug problem than to help him. He believed, through the voices he continually heard, that there were demon angels trying to control him. He tried to develop ways to control them. He never took responsibility for any of his actions, blaming these “angels” for his actions.
How Jaycee Dugard was found was remarkable. Garrido had a “plan” to take Jaycee and the children to his parole office appointment, and tell them something of the truth. His plan was to tell the officers that she allowed him to have the children with him and that she was aware he was a sex offender. To him it seemed like the perfect plan. But a few hours later the truth was known and Garrido had confessed to the whole crime.
The book is stunning, shocking, moving, and horrifying. To hear, in her own words, the Hell she went through just cuts through your heart. You want to hear more because you want to know if she’s alright. At one point I had to put the book down and walk away because I was crying so hard. Throughout the book I was pulling so hard for this girl to beat the odds and survive. When reading the part where she was finally able to say her real name (something Garrido wouldn’t let her do) my heart filled with joy and I had to walk away and calm down before I could finish.
She is the epitome of hope: She never gave up once during the 18 years of captivity at the hands of this madman. She seemed to know that one day she would see her Mom again.
She is the definition of survival: Going through what she went through, most would have crumpled and died. Jaycee was determined to do whatever it took to survive, both before and after her daughters were born. As a cancer survivor, she taught me a few lessons on what survival means.
Her grace and gentleness also come out in this book. She is humble, honest and very forthcoming. I am truly stunned by everything I’ve read. She became an inspiration and a hero to me from reading her book. Something I truly recommend.
I give this book 5 bookmarks out of 5.
- ‘I Will Not Be Afraid’: Jaycee Dugard Speaks Out on Kidnapping to ABC News (newsfeed.time.com)
- Jaycee Dugard describes 18 years in captivity (cbc.ca)
- Dugard describes ‘very painful’ years in captivity (msnbc.msn.com)
- Jaycee Dugard, in first interview, says Phillip Garrido parole officer saw her and ignored her (telegraph.co.uk)
- Jaycee Dugard book sells 175,000 copies on first day (today.msnbc.msn.com)