Reviews for House in the Sky

Booklist Reviews 2013 September #1
*Starred Review* Lindhout, with coauthor Corbett, recounts her 15 months in captivity at the hands of Somalian kidnappers in this harrowing memoir. Growing up in Alberta, Canada, Lindhout used her spending money to purchase old issues of National Geographic. As a young woman, she yearned to venture to the exotic places she saw on its pages and soon found she could save up enough money waitressing to fund months' worth of travel. Starting with Venezuela at age 19, she eventually journeyed to India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Deciding to pursue a career as a journalist, she ventured first into Iraq and then convinced Nigel, a former lover turned friend, to join her in Somalia. Four days into their visit, they were taken hostage by Somali bandits, most of whom were young teens. The kidnappers demanded outrageous ransoms from their parents, and began to treat Lindhout, far more than her male counterpart, with increasing brutality. Writing with immediacy and urgency, Lindhout and Corbett recount the horrific ordeal in crisp, frank, evocative prose. But what readers will walk away with is an admiration for Lindhout's deep reserves of courage under unimaginable circumstances. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 July #2
With the assistance of New York Times Magazine writer Corbett, Lindhout, who was held hostage in Somalia for more than a year, chronicles her harrowing ordeal and how she found the moral strength to survive. In 2008, Lindhout, after working as a cocktail waitress to earn travel money, was working as a freelance journalist. In an attempt to jump-start her fledgling career, she planned to spend 10 days in Mogadishu, a "chaotic, anarchic, staggeringly violent city." She hoped to look beyond the "terror and strife [that] hogged the international headlines" and find "something more hopeful and humane running alongside it." Although a novice journalist, she was an experienced, self-reliant backpacker who had traveled in Afghanistan and Pakistan. She hired a company to provide security for her and her companion, the Australian photographer Nigel Brennan, but they proved unequal to the task. Their car was waylaid by a gunman, and the group was taken captive and held for ransom. Her abductors demanded $2 million, a sum neither family could raise privately or from their governments. Negotiations played out over 15 months before an agreement for a much smaller sum was reached. The first months of their captivity, until they attempted an escape, were difficult but bearable. Subsequently, they were separated, chained, starved and beaten, and Lindhout was repeatedly raped. Survival was a minute-by-minute struggle not to succumb to despair and attempt suicide. A decision to dedicate her life to humanitarian work should she survive gave meaning to her suffering. As she learned about the lives of her abusers, she struggled to understand their brutality in the context of their ignorance and the violence they had experienced in their short lives. Her guards were young Muslim extremists, but their motive was financial. Theirs was a get-rich scheme that backfired. "Hostage taking is a business, a speculative one," Lindhout writes, "fed by people like me--the wandering targets, the fish found out of water, the comparatively rich moving against a backdrop of poor." A vivid, gut-wrenching, beautifully written, memorable book. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 April #1

At age 18, Lindhout left behind a tough upbringing in Alberta, Canada, to travel the world, eventually launching a career as a TV reporter. In 2008, a few days after landing in Mogadishu, Somalia, she was abducted with photojournalist Nigel Brennan and held in chains for 15 months. Here, she explains how she survived by imagining that she was in "a house in the sky." Upbeat ending: after her release, she founded an organization to help the Somali people. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

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Library Journal Reviews 2013 September #2

Held for 15 months in Somalia by ransom-hungry jihadists who captured her, friend Nigel, and three Somali assistants only days after she had landed in the country; shackled for ten months following an attempted escape; rotated through a series of vermin-infested rooms; raped, beaten, and left half-starved, dehydrated, and with abscessed teeth when she was finally released, Lindhout responded by founding the Global Enrichment Foundation to help the people of Somalia--a fact she mentions briefly in an entirely un-self-congratulatory epilog. That's all you need to know to appreciate this remarkably keen-eyed, honest, and radiant memoir, written with accomplished journalist Corbett. Lindhout starts with her hardscrabble upbringing in western Canada, her desire to travel fueled by National Geographic ("my world, I was pretty certain, was elsewhere"), then details trips throughout Latin America and Asia. Inspired by journalists she met to launch her own career, she did a brief stint in Baghdad, then headed for Somalia, reportedly the most dangerous country on Earth--but, as she said, "I'd always been off to one side, enjoying the good." The bad found her, yet there's less anger here than thoughtful observation and the desire that readers understand. VERDICT Moving and informative reading for everyone. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/13.]--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 June #4

Canadian journalist Lindhout gives a well-honed, harrowing account of her 459-day captivity at the hands of Somali Islamist rebels. Bit by the travel bug early in her life, partly due to the stultifying conditions at home in Sylvan Lake, in Alberta, Canada, where she lived with her single mom and abusive Native American boyfriend, Lindhout was attracted to the exotic world depicted within the pages of National Geographic and vowed to "go somewhere" as soon as she could. Working at an Alberta nightclub called the Drink, Lindhout was able to cobble together money to travel over the years, eventually finding herself in Africa and the Middle East, freelancing as a photographer and journalist and having a love affair with a (married) Australian photographer, Nigel Brennan. Convinced war-torn Somalia would be the "hurricane" to make her career, in August 2008, at age 25, she and Nigel flew to Mogadishu, and, with a "fixer" and an SUV full of official "guards," set off to view a displaced-persons' camp but was instead carjacked by a group of kidnappers who demanded millions from the Westerners' families. Her captors moved her frequently from hideout to hideout, and she eventually converted to Islam ("They can't kill us if we convert," she told Nigel), was separated from Nigel, and was raped and tortured. Lindhout attempted escape but no one came to her aid. She and Nigel miraculously survived as their families and governments dickered over ransom negotiations. (Sept.)

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