An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading.
One of my reading goals this year is to read more nonfiction. Mainly true crime but other stuff too. This book falls into the other stuff category as well as being an impulse check-out from the library.
For those who don't know, Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped in 1991 and was held captive by her kidnappers for eighteen years before she was found in 2009. I was in high school at the time and remember my parents watching the story unfold on the news and talk about it, but I didn't really know what the fuss was about until I listened to a podcast on the case last year. After that I became interested in Dugard and her life and put her books on my "Want to Read" list. Thus, reading Freedom.
Freedom: My Book of Firsts is Dugard's accounts of her life after she was rescued. There's not a particular direction the book takes, just multiple short stories about the things she's seen and done. She does frequently talk about her foundation, JAYC, and the work she does with that, as well as her recovery process. It's a book about who she is now, which is really an interesting perspective to read about.
The most endearing thing about this book is Duagard's honesty. She talks about some experiences that are really embarrassing and you'd think she wouldn't want to talk about how her horse got her in trouble or her panic over a cancelled flight, but she does and it makes her a real person. She's not just this figure that was on the news, she's a person who I feel like I've gotten to know through reading this book.
The other aspect of this book is the optimism in it. She really comes across as a happy, optimistic person. So often when I hear people talk about those who have been through a traumatic experience, it's with a lot of sadness and anger and this general tone that nothing can be okay. Living in Salt Lake, I heard a lot from Elizabeth Smart (blurbs in the paper, friends talking about speeches she gave, etc.) and every time she always came across like an angry, bitter person. Which, don't get me wrong, she has every right to feel the emotions she does. Everyone does. It's just really refreshing and much more preferable to hear from someone who lived through Hell go, "Hey, I'm okay. I'm doing okay and life goes on." There's still trauma, of course. Dugard talks about the anger she still feels sometimes and the nightmares and panic she gets as a result of her captivity, but this book seems like her way of saying, You can be okay. Your life doesn't end and you won't turn into this angry, broken person. You can be happy even if something terrible happens to you. Overall, it's a message I much prefer because it is more hopeful. It's nice to know people can be okay.
The biggest drawback to this book is the writing style. Dugard has kind of a childish style and repeats herself a lot. The stories are also not told chronologically, 'cause each chapter seems to have been written at different times while she was thinking of it. I didn't mind it too much, because it did make her come across more genuine and like she was talking to me, rather than me reading what someone else wrong. I just wish an editor had guided her just a little bit more so it could be more polished, since there were times where I was like, "You've said that three times already, I know that this happened". It could be just me though.
Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Overall I really recommend reading this book, especially if you're curious about Dugard and her story. It's a great story and made me smile in more than one place.