“Room”: The Real Thing

A Stolen Life: A Memoir

By Jaycee Lee Dugard

Room, the film adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s hugely successful novel of the same name is now new in theaters. Reviews and audience reception have been phenomenal. If you have seen or plan to see the film, or have read the book, then you should be interested Jaycee Dugard’s story. Dugard did live in a room and did raise two daughters (11 and 15 when she regained her freedom) in that very room. A Stolen Life is her personal recounting of the experience and her recovery after being freed. If you find the fictional treatment harrowing and inspiring, you’ll find the real thing even more so.

More often than not when a national figure authors a book about his or her experiences, it means co-authored, and leaves you wondering if the work truly reflects the personality of the subject.

Not so with Dugard’s introspective, self-questioning, and always poignant recounting of her abduction and 18-year imprisonment — filled with rape, lunatic episodes, birthing, and loneliness — in Phillip and Nancy Garrido’s backyard.

Dugard’s case raises a long list of questions about the judicial system’s handling of sexual predators, the value and accuracy of psychiatric evaluations, the purpose of parole officers, the insularity of American society — all of which pop into your mind as you read, but none of which are the focus of the book. 

The book, as Dugard states, was a therapeutic tool to help her understand and reconcile her life as a captive. You might wonder how she kept her sanity, why she never tried escaping when opportunities presented themselves, and, most of all, how she never lost hope that she would one day be reunited with her mother and sister. You’ll find the answers in her reflective self-study that speaks volumes about the indomitability of the human spirit. w/c

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