On 10 June 1991, eleven-year-old Jaycee Dugard was abducted from a school bus stop within sight of her home in Tahoe, California. It was the last her family and friends saw of her for over eighteen years. On 26 August 2009, Dugard, her daughters, and Phillip Craig Garrido appeared in the office of her kidnapper’s parole officer in California. Their unusual behaviour sparked an investigation that led to the positive identification of Jaycee Lee Dugard, living in a tent behind Garrido’s home. During her time in captivity, at the age of fourteen and seventeen, she gave birth to two daughters, both fathered by Garrido.
Dugard’s memoir is written by the 30-year-old herself and covers the period from the time of her abduction in 1991 up until the present. In her stark, utterly honest and unflinching narrative, Jaycee opens up about what she experienced, including how she feels now, a year after being found. Garrido and his wife Nancy have since pleaded guilty to their crimes.
When I picked this book up in the book store I had no idea what it was about, who Jaycee Dugard was or what had happened to her. I don’t know if that was a good thing, as once I delved into the book it was heart breaking to read a first hand account of an eleven year old being kidnapped, sexually abused and held captive for 18 years.
There were moments throughout this biography that I had to put the book down and go outside and stand in the sunshine and just take a second as it was a little too traumatic and overwhelming at times. This is not a light hearted and whimsical novel, despite the happy ending. What I did take away from this book was that despite the horror, the trauma and the lasting scars a human being can endure, we can also possess insane amounts of courage to keep going and survive. Jaycee taught me an appreciation for life and an understanding that there is no cure for this sort of trauma, instead there is acceptance that this horrible time in her life is now apart of her and everyday its about living life to the best one can. I found, from a psychological point of view, the benefits of animal therapy – specifically Jaycee’s work with horses as a way of reconnecting, establishing trust and finding pleasure in the purest of acts such as caring for an animal. I’ve seen the benefits of such therapy during my course work and reading Jaycee’s account of this therapy only substantiated that.
If you have ever had an interest in the Jaycee Dugard case, or you like true crime stories or even if you are curious as to the mindset of someone who has suffered and survived a kidnapping, then I recommend this biography to you. It’s extremely well written, raw and honest and is a testament to Jaycee’s strength and courage.