Former Journalist Amanda Lindhout Offers a Difficult Yet Inspiring Memoir: "A House in the Sky"
On today's ST, we speak with Amanda Lindhout, who formerly worked around the globe as a freelance journalist and photographer, and who now runs the Global Enrichment Foundation, a non-profit organization --- which she founded about four years ago --- supporting development, aid, and education initiatives in Somalia and Kenya. Lindout speaks with us about her recently published memoir, which she co-wrote with Sara Corbett, and which has been getting some stellar reviews. Indeed, Amazon has named this disturbing, well-written, and ultimately uplifting work a "Best Book of the Month" for September 2013, and has summarized it thus: "Lindhout's story starts as a breathless travelogue, inspired by National Geographic --- as a kid in rural Alberta, [she] scavenged bottles to buy thrift store copies of the magazine, escaping through its pages from a violent home into a vast, vibrant world. In her twenties, she sought out every amazing place she'd always wanted to see, then kept going, loving the rush of pushing beyond the next border. Travel became her education, and a desire to make it her vocation as a freelance journalist draws her to Afghanistan, Iraq, and finally Somalia, where a hungry young reporter with guts might make a name for herself. Lindhout's hubris can be frustrating: intellectually, she knows Somalia is the 'most dangerous country on earth,' but she still talks her former lover, freelance photojournalist Nigel Brennan, into coming along. By this time, both of them have moved through so many unpredictable places unscathed that the possibility of real peril is a hazy abstraction, and their abduction by armed extremists comes as a shock. As their captors hold out for a ransom of $1.5 million, Lindhout and Brennan defensively convert to Islam and try to remain sane through covert communication, but after a botched escape, Lindhout endures severe torture and repeated rape --- and survival means drawing on her every reserve. Written with uncommon sensitivity...[this book] becomes a moving testament to [Lindhout's] ability to cultivate resilience and a kind of spiritual transcendence, even in profound darkness.... Most of us will never live a day like the 460 Lindhout spent in captivity, but we all have our trials, and we can cultivate our own resilience."