In her early twenties, Amanda Lindhout left her home in Canada to fill her passport with stamps from the places she had dreamed about since childhood. She traveled to dozens of countries, first as a tourist and then as a freelance journalist, finding gratification in exploring the regions many others purposefully avoided.
In 2008, she arrived in Mogadishu, Somalia with her friend and fellow journalist Nigel Brennan. Two days later, they were ambushed en route to a refugee camp and taken prisoner by members of Hizbul Islam, a Somali insurgent group. Along with their drivers and translator, Lindhout and Brennan were held captive for more than a year while their captors tried to secure large ransoms. An engaging and haunting memoir, A House in the Sky describes Lindhout’s struggle to maintain sanity and hope in the face of brutal conditions.
Please note: trigger warning for sexual assault.
“In my mind, I built stairways. At the end of the stairways, I imagined rooms. These were high, airy places with big windows and a cool breeze moving through. I imagined one room opening brightly onto another room until I’d built a house, a place with hallways and more staircases. I built many houses, one after another, and those gave rise to a city — a calm, sparkling city near the ocean, a place like Vancouver. I put myself there, and that’s where I lived, in the wide-open sky of my mind. I made friends and read books and went running on a footpath in a jewel-green park along the harbour. I ate pancakes drizzled in syrup and took baths and watched sunlight pour through trees. This wasn’t longing, and it wasn’t insanity. It was relief. It got me through.”
Amanda Lindhout is a journalist; memoirist; and the founder of the Global Enrichment Foundation, which provides education and empowers women in Somalia and Kenya. Born in Alberta, Canada, she has traveled to more than 70 countries worldwide.
Length: 373 pages
Main Setting: Somalia
Secondary Setting: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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