Review: A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

house-in-the-skyI’m having a *really* hard time with this book. I find Amanda Lindhout a very selfish person. I think she was completely full of entitlement.

Of course, I feel sorry for her. I wouldn’t want anyone to go though this experience. It must have been beyond imagination.

However, from the very start Lindhout put herself in danger time and time again. Why? She seems to just have a wanderlust that she desires to fill. Work, save money, then off again until the money runs out. She seems very clear that she became a journalist simply because it was a way for her to continue to travel and skip the going home part, waitress, save money, repeat. At no point in time did she show any desire to better the lives of the people she exploited (sorry, but it was an income to her, nothing more, that to me is exploiting). She would go to hotels and demand rooms from men that were very animate that she should not be there unsupervised. She would be turned away and then become enraged and go down the street from hotel to hotel with the same response.

Of course this is not a great way of life. However, it is THEIR RIGHT to live that way. It is their country. Lindhout was told it was not safe and her naivety (her words, not mine) didn’t really feel that applied to her. That’s the entitlement I felt she displayed.

As people from 1st world countries often do, Amanda felt that the entire world was open to her. That she should be able to come and go as she wanted. If she hasn’t felt that entitlement, hadn’t felt she had the right to do as she pleased (despite her parents warnings and pleas, despite the warnings from governments, despite the warnings from thee citizens of the countries she went into, despite the warnings of the other reporters, despite, despite, despite!) and go where she wanted, none of this would have happened.

I could almost forgive her if she had truly been trying to help the people who suffered in these countries, but again, she is quite clear (her own words) that she was just looking for a sensational story to win her a sponsorship to a major network without having to take the normal route. She simply decided to call herself a freelancer and went out….without training, without schooling, again, without, without, without…she simply went with the first person that would hire her and didn’t even bother to check what they stood for or if she agreed with any of their viewpoints…

Then there is Nigel. Perhaps this is where I disliked her the most. I firmly believe that there are always two sides to every story. The facts are, she invited Nigel (she later admits she did so in order to screw with his mind, again, Lindhout shows how self involved she is). She goes on and on about him crying all the time…like there is something shameful in that. She gets angry when he has relationships with some of the captors. She damns him for not being supportive enough, for not touching her or talking at times….and yet she tells the reader time and time again how weak he is. He doesn’t want to pretend to be muslim, she decides that it is for the best and just does it without his approval and forcing him to do the same. Again, Lindhout shows the world that it’s what she wants and that’s final. The rest can just deal with it. Here’s the thing, Nigel’s life is on the line as well and perhaps he is just trying to survive. Why is okay for Amanda to cry, and we should feel sympathy for her, but if Nigel does, it’s said in such a way that we should feel shame for him?

Again, I am sorry, I know everyone I know has loved this book. It just made me angry. Angry that she was in the position in the first place. Angry that so many people suffered. Angry that the governments of the captives had to deal with the political fallout from all of this. Angry that people think that they are above what everyone else is saying…

I really don’t care if this experience changed her. I don’t really care what humanitarian things she does now. I feel strongly that she gets well paid for all of it. She isn’t doing it for free. If she were, I somehow doubt if she would be doing it. Don’t misunderstand me, sure you can get paid for these things…the difference is, would you do so regardless of payment? What are your motives? I’m pretty sure where Lindhout’s stem from…

(side note) FWIW, many journalists criticized this book because it contradicted much of what Nigel wrote in his memoir that came out prior to this book…there are a few other instances that her integrity came into question and many believe she has lied about other events (prior to the kidnapping). Many things I read in this book (about her behaviour) didn’t ring true to me….

Until next time…
Urania

Buy it now A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

Review: Golden State by Michelle Richmond

goldenstate***Sneak Peek Review! “Golden State” will be released on February 4, 2014***

I picked up a book years ago that was entitled “The Year of The Fog”. I devoured it in hours. I absolutely loved it. I rushed out, purchased multiple copies and sent them out in the mail to the only readers I knew at the time. I then proceeded to read her other works. Sadly, that’s been over 7 years ago! I’ve never forgotten how much I enjoyed TYotF and I often browse looking for a new release from Richmond. I joined up for her newsletter via her website and heard very little. Then FINALLY!!! I got an email that said she had a new book coming out! I quickly checked my ARC websites and saw the book in both NetGalley and Edelweiss….I quickly applied to both sites to snag my copy…and surprisingly enough I was approved by both websites. I can’t remember being so excited about a book for a while now.

It wasn’t soon that I was completely worn out from hooting and hollering and dancing around the house from all of my excitement. Suddenly, as I sat down to catch my breath, I was dejected. I had waited so long for this book to be written, now it was here…what if I hate it? What if the love I felt for TYotF was just a fluke? What if I am so disappointed in this novel that it even takes away from my previous feelings of obsession to getting to my next Michelle Richmond read? What if the writing is so awful that I start to doubt what I felt in the past? I was torn….to start the book or to stare at its cover for a time and just imagine what might be between the covers?

Heck!!!!!!! You guys know me, RIGHT???????? I ripped into this baby so fast!!!!! I couldn’t wait to start it! Was I disappointed? Heck no!!!!!! It’s a Michelle Richmond novel! I absolutely loved it from start to finish!

I think I might have loved it even a bit more than TYotF….

This novel is a day in the life of Doctor Julie Walker. Of course, it’s no ordinary day. California is in the midst of a game changing election day. Her sister needs her help pronto. Her Jeep is broken into. And two men in her life are not where she needs them to be. And this ladies and gentlemen is only the beginning….

Now let me forthright and honest here for just a moment….I wish there was a bit more to the ending…that Richmond had taken it just a little bit further…I wanted to see just a smidgen more of the side story of the novel (and for sake of spoilers, that’s all I will say on that subject)

Also, it needs pointed out that Richmond has a unique writing style. She doesn’t blurt out the plots. They are just there…yes, you sort of know what they are, but at the same time, you’re not 100% sure. All the while, Richmond drops bread crumbs along the trail and confirms her story or throws in a small twist that has you wondering….

At the same time, she jumps back and forth. It can be frustrating if you want things laid out in a straight path to follow. One moment, the main character is in the present, the next second she is 3 hours earlier or a decade earlier. The only way you have to follow is to simply LISTEN to thoughts of the main character. Soon enough, if you just relax, you can follow along just fine.

I was sitting there after I finished the book, pondering it all (did I mention I LOVED the book?) and I realised, really, think about it, isn’t that how we really are? We jump from the present to what we had for breakfast this morning…and then a moment later a song, or a smell, or for some reason we don’t even know, think back to a time in our past. To a memory. Pondering how we got to this place in time. Memories are a great tool. They help us live our current lives and they help shape our futures as well. Memories are not just something that we leave behind and forget. We never know when they are going to hit us.

I think that is why I love Richmond so much. She has a way of writing that I really feel like I can connect with the character. I am there with them, confronting the memories. Dealing with their guilt. Or their anger. Or their confusion. I am there feeling them realise their imperfections. Accepting their blame. I am the one trying to find forgiveness. I am the one who is trying to change for the better. I can’t recommend this book enough. I really can’t. I won’t say that it’s a perfect format for writing. I won’t say this is a literary gem that will challenge all the writings throughout time. But I will say, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT YOU HOLD HOLY, DO NOT MAKE ME WAIT ANOTHER 7 YEARS FOR THE NEXT BOOK, MICHELLE RICHMOND!!!!

Bwhahahahahahaahahahaha….go get this book!!!! As fast as you can! Still not convinced? Maybe a few quotes will do for you…

I understand how families become estranged, not by design, but by embarrassment. You come to a point when so much time has passed that it seems impossible to make the first move.

We tend to see life as a continuum, Julie, but really, it’s a series of phases, generating a series of different selves. You leave one life behind and start another. And each time, a different version of yourself emerges.

I guess I’m just stuck on the idea that there’s this monumental machine, and we’re all part of it. Most of the time, we don’t even stop to think about how it works. We just go about our business, doing our part, trusting that everyone else will do their part, and the machine will keep functioning. But all it takes is for someone to come along who isn’t thinking straight, some who’s not paying attention, or worse, hell-bent on self-destruction and everything turns to shit.

Go on then! Buy the book!!!!

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now Golden State

ARC provided by NetGalley and Edelweiss for an honest review.