posted on Mar, 1 2014 @ 10:28 PM
This book needs to be turned into a movie, and I would be surprised if that doesn't happen in the next 5 years.
Everything about this book is extraordinary: a narcissistic Canadian girl who saves her money as a cocktail waitress to go on vacations to exotic
places in search of adventure. The first 140 pages will you leave you with a very strong feeling of: this girl is a narcissist.
But then, after successfully traveling in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, she got the idea of going into Afghanistan. While there, she was robbed at
gunpoint. After going back to Canada, she receives a job offer from the Iranian government sponsored and newly created English news channel, PressTv.
Amanda, being essentially ignorant of the political and moral significance of accepting a job offer from PressTv nonetheless decides on accepting it.
She then spends the next 5 months of her life in Iraq, where she is eventually shamed by credentialed journalists from notable publications.While back
in Canada, she gets the "adventure urge" again, and decides on travelling to Somalia to cover the topic of Somalian refugee camps for a small
alberta newspaper. This and PressTv are her "journalist" credentials. So this helps to frame Amanda as a vain, superficial braggart. This is who
Amanda was before. This is what Amanda feels guilt for as she reflects on her life months into her captivity. Think of how interesting this is!
But that's not it. With photojournalist Nigel Brennan - whom Amanda coaxed into coming by mitigating the dangers involved and rubbing in the fact
that he wants to be a photojournalist - they head off to Somalia. After a fairly deceptively quiet 3 first days, Amanda and Nigel along with a driver
and 2 others are kidnapped at AK47 gunpoint by a group of Islamist militants. Amanda still thinks she can control the situation - her belief in her
own self efficacy has her trying to calm Nigel and speak casually with the militant leaders about what is going on. She begins to speak to them with
"my brother", "i'm your sister" - an intelligent tactic no doubt, but done in the emotional style of a girl who is narcissistically
A few months into captivity, Nigel and Amanda are sharing a single room as they contemplate how they should deal with this situation. Amanda believes
they should fake converting to Islam. Nigel is afraid that they'll find out that they're faking it. Amanda gets her way. She tells one of the
leaders that she and Nigel would like to say the shahada and convert to Islam. A month later, her and Nigel are separated, because apparently men and
women - outside of marriage, and who aren't family - are not allowed to be alone together.
Overtime, Nigel suggests to Amanda that they try to escape through the window in the washroom. When they escape, they're seen, and 45 minutes later
after a dramatic scene in the towns mosque - during prayer - they are back in their prison, but this time with chains between their feet.
About a month or two after Amanda and Nigel are separated and put into different rooms, one of the kidnappers - Abdullah - begins abusing, and then
raping Amanda. I'm not sure how many times Amanda was raped, but it seems to have been something that happened quite frequently during her captivity.
I would estimate anywhere from 50 to 150 rapes over those 463 days of captivity, including a gang rape.
Towards the end of her and Nigels captivity, Amandas kidnappers tied Amanda, both arms together, both legs together, and then tied her legs to her
arms so that her back was arched, very tightly, along with her head swell to the arms/legs, and left in that position for 3 days.
The most amazing thing about this book is Amandas own spiritual transformation. What stayed was her resilient self belief, but what left were those
attributes of character which Amanda slowly became more aware of as time passed by, and as her sufferings forced her to develop an awareness that
would help her survive. Remarkably, Amanda is able to summon the awareness not to cultivate hate, but to try to think compassionately towards her
kidnappers. Despite the rapes, threats, violence, emotional abuse, shaming, and malnutrition, or rather, perhaps because of all this, Amanda was able
to look deeper into herself, perhaps, deeper into the fabric of human relations, and realize that this entire context was one of suffering: herself,
the victim of all of the above, and the perpetuators, the victim of their environment - of the world they learn to see things from, the world which
shapes their emotion.
Such a transformation leaves the "kernel" of Amandas resiliency in tact, but the fruit which surrounds it, her personality, how she saw others and
how she wanted to be in life, was absolutely changed.
This book NEEDS to be made into a movie.
My picks for each character:
Amanda Lindhout: Jennifer Lawrence
Nigel Brennan: Jake Gylenhaal
Really, really interesting book. If you haven't read, I highly recommend it.