A House in the Sky
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, Alberta, 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.
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.
Amanda Lindhout on A HOUSE IN THE SKY
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We named the houses they put us in. We stayed in some for months at a time; other places, it was a few days or a few hours. There was the Bomb-Making House, then the Electric House. After that came the Escape House, a squat concrete building where we’d sometimes hear gunfire outside our windows and sometimes a mother singing nearby to her child, her voice low and sweet. After we escaped the Escape House, we were moved, somewhat frantically, to the Tacky House, into a bedroom with a flowery bedspread and a wooden dresser that held hair sprays and gels laid out in perfect rows, a place where, it was clear from the sound of the angry,... see more
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Reading Group Guide
As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a house governed by chaos and violence by paging through old issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in its exotic locales. At the age of twenty, Amanda boarded her first international flight to see those places in person. She traveled through Latin America, then Laos, then Bangladesh and India. When money ran out, she returned home to work and save for the next adventure, launching herself deeper into the world each time—backpacking solo across Sudan, Syria, Pakistan—and closer to some sort of edge, while also beginning to carve out a career as a reporter. In August 2008, she traveled to Mogadishu, Somalia to report on the fighting there. Three days into her visit, she and her friend, a photojournalist, were abducted. What follows is the story of Lindhout’s fifteen months in captivity. While her family in Canada attempts to negotiate impossible ransom demands, Lindhout focuses on staying alive—converting to Islam, receiving “wife lessons” from a militia leader, and plotti see more