A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout, a Red Deer native, is the dramatic and redemptive memoir of a woman whose curiosity led her to the world’s most beautiful and remote places, its most imperiled and perilous countries, and then into fifteen months of harrowing captivity—an exquisitely written story of courage, resilience, and grace. On June 25, 2014 the memoir was optioned by Annapurna Pictures in order to create a screen-adaptation of the book with Rooney Mara (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Carol) to play the role of Lindhout in the film. Vivid and suspenseful, as artfully written as the finest novel, A House in the Sky is the searingly intimate story of an intrepid young woman and her search for compassion in the face of unimaginable adversity.
As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of nineteen, working as a cocktail waitress in Calgary, she began saving her tips so she could travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, and India, and emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia—“the most dangerous place on earth.” On her fourth day, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road.
Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda converts to Islam as a survival tactic, receives “wife lessons” from one of her captors, and risks a daring escape. Moved between a series of abandoned houses in the desert, she survives on memory—every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity—and on strategy, fortitude, and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark, being tortured.
The book became a New York Times bestseller, and was named one of The Globe Books 100: Best Canadian non-fiction by the Globe and Mail. It was also named the 2013 Best Book of the Year in the Biographies & Memoirs category by Amazon.com, in addition to the Best Books of the Year list published by Vogue Magazine. O Magazine listed the book as one of its recommendations on its Winter 2014 reading list. It was also the winner of the 2014 CBC Bookie Award for Best Canadian Nonfiction.
Reviews from Goodreads:
Impossible to put down, and easily one of the bravest, most harrowing, and most inspiring memoirs you’ll ever read. What Amanda went through during her 15 months of captivity in Somalia is about as close to hell on earth as anyone could get, and her story is at once many things: a remembrance of transcended origins and of lust for travel; a page-turning, ripped-from-the-headlines chronicle of a young woman’s kidnapping; a portrait of the tragedy of religious fundamentalism and failed statehood and the astonishing inhumanity that they can ignite in men (and I do mean in men–not women). But more than anything, it’s an unbelievably moving account of faith in one’s self, how hope can save a life when all reasons to live have been obliterated, and how forgiveness and compassion are miraculously possible after unimaginable trauma.
Every so often you’ll read a book that stays unshakably close to you. It’ll linger in your mind and fill your thoughts throughout the day when you’ve set it aside and lovingly so very, very long after the last page. Memoir A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout is one of those books. Receiving the absolute highest possible praise of five and four stars from the Mindful Readers, this book is incredible. Amanda’s rich, flowing, and relentless, beautiful writing takes you intensely side by side with her during her young life of travels, journalism, and long captivity in Somalia. There is so much sadness, so much struggle, so much extreme mind over matter within these pages; you are forever influenced, forever affected. But as you live Amanda’s journey, as you laugh at times and yet cry over these words with her, you will witness the most glorious symbolic faith fluttering in sunshine. You will see determination and confidence raise a weakened yet courageous life upward into fierce belief. And once in flight, hope soars from that girl in chains on that dark floor and it humbles you, awes you over the amazing grace and forgiveness that is only Amanda Lindhout. Read this unforgettable life story and ultimate quest to hand hope — rajo — to today’s children and women of Somalia, and quite wonderfully, to you as a reader.
I read this prior to joining GR and hence a late review but as I pulled this out for my husband to read, I thought I must write something as this has stayed with me. This is one of the most memorable, shocking, fascinating memoirs I have ever read. Amanda Lindhout is an astonishing woman and the ordeal she went through – as disturbing as it was – transformed her into becoming one of the most courageous of women whom exist today. From the time she had written this, she has done amazing things in Somali, raising the awareness of the oppression of women. This is an absolute 5 ★ must read.
About the Author
Amanda Lindhout is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker and journalist. Her multiple award winning memoir, A House in the Sky, has been on the Globe and Mail top ten list for over two years. In 2015 her work as a journalist included writing feature stories in Maclean’s, National Post and Flare, with photography for Flare. Her book, A House in the Sky, has been optioned by Hollywood production company Annapurna Pictures (Zero Dark Thirty, Her, American Hustle). Development has started with Oscar nominated actress Rooney Mara to play the role of Amanda.
An internationally renowned public speaker, notable clients include Google, Bill Clinton and Richard Branson. In 2015 Amanda visited over 25 countries as a keynote speaker at events as large as 16,000 audience members.
Amanda founded the Global Enrichment Foundation, a non profit organization that raised close to 3 million dollars to help educate and empower women and children in Somalia and Kenya.
She’s travelled to nearly 70 countries. Notable adventures include riding a camel in Ethiopia for a week to the hottest place on the planet, trekking to Everest Base Camp in Nepal and sleeping with Kutchi nomads in Afghanistan.
Awards and Recognition:
- Women’s Executive Network, Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women 2012
- The University of Lethbridge, Honorary Doctorate, Doctor of Laws 2013, received for contributions to Canada
- Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012, contributions to Canada