Extraordinary Woman

I just read an amazing book, called “A Stolen Life”, which is a memoir written by Jaycee Dugard, the woman who was abducted/kidnapped in California at age 11, and held captive by her abductor and his wife for 18 years. I believe she was found a year ago, by sheer accident. During her captivity, she gave birth to 2 daughters (at age 14 and 17), fathered by her kidnapper, and she and her daughters were freed together, and are now leading a normal life, reunited with Ms. Dugard’s family, and rediscovering the world in her case after 18 years of isolation, and her daughters are discovering the world for the first time.

Her story, and what happened to her, is every parent’s worst nightmare, or second worst. A parent’s worst nightmare being the death of a child. But this comes as a very close second. Abduction while an innocent child is walking to school, stolen from a mother who loved her and never gave up hope of finding her again. Torture, isolation, rape, living in horrifying conditions, hidden and locked up and often handcuffed in a backyard compound by a man who was a convicted felon, and his wife who was his willing accomplice for 18 years, giving birth to 2 babies when she was barely more than a baby herself, and then trying to take care of and protect her daughters. Her fear of offending her captors, her hopelessness of being able to get away and ever see her family again, her acute loneliness for 18 years, and surely despair, the incredible trauma she went through. And yet she tells her story simply, and quietly, without sensationalism, but with gentle grace and honesty. The story simply is what it is, and you can sense her quiet striving for normalcy now, her gratitude to be reunited with her family, and her determination to make a good life for her daughters. Jaycee Dugard is truly an amazing woman. Remarkable in every way.  She has come through an experience that would destroy most people, and break the spirit of people older and stronger than she was at the age she was abducted. It was no less awful than being in a prison camp, or a prisoner of war, tortured and humiliated and humbled. And yet, it is extraordinary what the human spirit can survive. And clearly, Jaycee Dugard has survived it as a whole person, with dignity and grace.

I was enormously impressed by the woman, and saddened by what happened to her. She was the victim of unthinkable emotional and physical abuse, and yet has come through it admirably. I wish her well in the life she will lead now. When you think of what you were doing 18 years ago, you realize how long that span of time is. My children were tiny then, and are now adults, with jobs after college, except the youngest who is still in college, and would have been a toddler then. My marriage lasted 18 years, which seems a very long, respectable length of time these days. We’ve been through several presidents. She was abducted for nearly 2 decades, was taken as an 11 year old, and rescued at nearly 30. How lucky her mother was to find her again, and how incredible that she always believed she would see her daughter again. How did she not give up hope? How did she stand the not knowing? How did Jaycee live through it? The book, the story, and the woman who survived it are haunting.

I admire her remarkable uncrushable spirit. There is not an ounce of bitterness in the book, only the simple facts, and her story told in a straightforward way. She has my admiration, compassion, and very, very best wishes that life will be kind to her in future. And I think it is wonderful that she had the courage to write the book. It will help others not give up hope, in less daunting circumstances, and is a tribute to her as a survivor.

I wanted to share this remarkable book with you. It is horrifying that things like this happen, even more so, that her captor was on parole, parole agents came to the house regularly to check on him, and never discovered the secret backyard where she and her daughters were hidden, and she was often handcuffed, locked in a small hut, and existed for 18 years.  May something like this never, ever happen again.

Love, Danielle

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11 Comments so far
  1. Kimberly September 23, 2011 4:35 pm

    Nice Review…

  2. Alison Banks September 26, 2011 4:43 am

    Dear Danielle

    I hope and pray you will read this and maybe find the time to contact me.
    First I would like to send you my sorrow and condolence for your loss of Nick.
    I am just an ordinary 47 year old women who lives in England but finally I think I have nothing to lose in trying to contact you.
    I first picked up and started to read His Bright Light a few years back but having read into a few chapters found similarities to my own son, now 24 years old and myself, I was so scared of the outcome that I could read no further so put the book away.
    Last week I picked it up again and read from start to finish ( it was hard) and this is what has inspired me to try to contact you to share my own story and maybe find help in some way.
    I have a long story to tell but like you feel if professionals had listened to the instincts of a mother who knows her child best, things would not be as they are today and there would be no story to tell and I would not be writing this to you.
    To give a little background history my son Ashley was born in July 1987, 7 weeks premature, weighing 1.9 kg with tracheosophageal atresia and duodenal atresia. He was to spend the first 18 months of his life in 4 different hospitals undergoing many surgical and medical procedures etc. During this time he also suffered septecemia and stopped breathing on many occassions requiring ventilation
    Through all this I was a single mother with very little support as I had and do have only a small family network, whom now have moved away.
    Upon leaving hospital he still suffered life threatening moments due to food getting stuck in his repaired eosophagus and continued to have ongoing hospital treatment and visits until the age of around 13 years.
    It was not until I met my ex partner when Ashley was 2 and a half years old that I started to sense things were not quite right with Ashley emotionally and sought the advice of my family doctor who referred us to a family therapist. As like you they looked at the parenting not the child. Things became worse when he started infant school at the age of 5 years and from there have continued to be a living nightmare because no one cared to listen to either of us even though like yourselves many professionals took it upon themselves to look at the behaviours rather than the cause of them.
    I see today my son is a broken man, who has no trust in anyone and I cry daily for the baby he was and for the future he may face because people have been ignorant of his emotional well being.
    He constantly blames me as so many others have walked away and left me to pick up the pieces of the damage they have done to him and I myself have been left to feel like a broken women who has been punished for being the loving, caring mother of a baby born with special needs. We suffer in silence because I have exhausted all the avenues I have tried in seeking help for us and though there have been punishable failures by professionals in the duty of care they owed and owe to him my attempts for redress have been avoided through government bureaucracy here in the UK.
    Reading about Nicky the similarities in his thoughts and behaviours mirror that of my son and I have truely worried and worry about what the future holds for us both.
    I have only skimmed the surafce of what we have been through but I hope you may find it in your heart to listen so I may tell you more.
    God Bless you and your family and I hope time will heal some of the pain you must all feel.
    Kind Regards

  3. September September 26, 2011 10:00 am

    Danielle, thank you for the review! Maybe you could share about other books you read and like in the future? I’m always on a lookout for a great read.

  4. Kennisha Hill September 26, 2011 1:49 pm

    I’m a writer and you greatly inspire me, Danielle. I have so much more to say, but I’d just stumble over my words.

    Bless you,

  5. Morten September 28, 2011 8:05 am

    Hi Danielle

    We are some young people who runs a book blog.

    We like your newest creation a lot (Hotel Vendome) and have written a bit about it.

    Keep it up. You rock!!!

    Best Regards


  6. Bernadette Nowicki October 2, 2011 9:19 pm




  7. Miriam Brito October 5, 2011 2:00 pm

    That has always been my greatest fear with my daughter. That someone would take her and me not knowing how horrible she is.
    My best friend lost her son, and like you say that is something not to come back from easy,
    but living every day wondering where my daughter is would probably kill me.
    My best to this family and may God love and protect them with lots of health always.
    xxoo Miriam

  8. Chukwuemeka jennie October 28, 2011 5:06 am

    Jaycee,must be a strong woman to go through all these and put up the ‘it never happened’ altitude. I must say I admired her courage and bravity. I wish her a blissful life ahead. I was deeply touched by her story;indeed people are wicked.May this never,never,never happen again. I love u Jaycee and Danielle S.

  9. Chukwuemeka jennie November 1, 2011 11:57 am

    D.s,indeed u r a wonderful writer.I started reading ur books since 2000;d first I read was Zoya,no book had made me cry like that book.I read over 15 copies of ur books.Impossible,was another hilarious one I have read that particular book over 5 times(can u imagine d glueness?),I still can imagine how anyone could do such to his child even worst that d mum was aware.Right now I’m on A Good Woman.Thanks for not giving up on writing.I thank ur friends n love ones who encourage(d) u and thanks for making my reading worthwhile.
    I’ve used ur perfume too and they r good I must say and ur bedroom lotion r simply breathtaking I love d fragrance. keep it up, thumb up.

  10. jan November 30, 2011 1:47 pm

    Hi and best wishes to you, Danielle! I have wanted so long to email you and simply ask a question. I am sure others would love to know your answer as well.
    Over the years, I have purchased every book you have written, and did so enjoy seeing the movies when they were televised on Lifetime, or other channels.
    For quite some years now, I have not seen them on my tv guide. Surely, you know how much I must miss them!! I wish that they were there!!
    I enjoy re reading books that I love …..and it bothers me not at all, who knows it!
    So many books, so little time?
    You have impacted others, and changed lives..and I sincerely wish life’s best joys and blessings for you.
    Thanks for all you do! Jan

  11. Luxembourg March 8, 2012 1:02 am

    Danielle Steel explores the world of those families where one person doesn’t feel like they fit ‘in’ because of favoritism and ignorant, unforgiveable parents. This Big Girl tries to find her way in a world all by herself without the benefit of family support and maintains her compassion and love for her younger sibling throughout. She really IS a special person in her own right and eventually will find assistance in the big city with an eclectic group of friends, acquaintances, lovers (?), and ultimately her soulmate.