At the age of nineteen, while working as a cocktail waitress and saving every single cent she could, she realized her childhood hopes and began traveling. From South America to Southeast Asia to Central America, and eventually on to the Middle East, Syria, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, every trip made her crave more adventure. She accepted an offer to work as a TV journalist in Iraq and afterward, in 2008, landed in war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia as a freelance writer and photographer.
Civil war had been raging in Somalia for over 17 years at that point, with rival factions, rebel militias, and groups of Islamic fundamentalists bloodily battling for control. The country was so dangerous very few journalists were willing to report from there, but Lindhout hoped to make her mark by doing what others would not.
Instead, four days into her time in Somalia, she’s kidnapped by a group of armed men as she and a fellow photographer were traveling to report on a camp for people displaced by all the fighting and war. “A House in the Sky” is her vivid account of her travels before her capture and of the unimaginable 460 days she remained in captivity in Somalia.
The captors were Islamic fundamentalists hoping to make a fortune off Lindhout and the other prisoner by holding them for ransom. It didn’t matter that neither of them was American, that she was from Canada and her friend from Australia. To her kidnappers, all Westerners were interchangeable and seen equally as infidels.
She remembers incredible details about her time in captivity, about each specific building they were kept in, about each time they were moved to a new location, about the kidnappers themselves. When she recounts the times her captors were violent and abusive to her, you feel like you’re right there with her. She constructs a “house” in her mind to give herself a safe place to go amidst the bleakness of her reality.
Yet, what is most remarkable about this book is not unrelenting darkness, but the optimism throughout. Lindhout worked hard to remain positive and compassionate. She succeeded. Ultimately this is a book about the dogged, impressive perseverance of the human spirit.
— LouAnn Lofton, firstname.lastname@example.org
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