|Jaycee after release approx age 29|
|Her memoir - picture age 11|
I have this weird thing with reading books: once I start one, I make myself finish it no matter what. I have never started a book and not finished it. It's kind of like a neurosis I guess, but now that I am older, I figure if I've only read what I absolutely love, I will miss out on a truly well rounded reading experience. I'd rather know as much about books and authors I don't care for as the ones I do.
All my life, I've been able to read whatever I wanted without having nightmares, fear, or panic, etc. Not so with movies. Movies that are overly violent, sexually violent, violent with small children involved, and horror related do not go well with me. Literally, I am afraid in the day time after watching them, let alone the night. And during the years I suffered from panic attacks, they were absolute no-nos. I stopped watching ER at one point because one episode had a mother suffering from split personality unintentionally harm her kids. I stopped watching SVU when my kids started getting a few years old because their faces appeared on those of the children in the episodes. Yet, most of these things don't bother me in books...it's almost like my imagination will only go so far before it shuts down the details and I don't freak out.
But, I think I've found "The One That Will Stop Me." On my memoir kick, I came across a book called Stolen Life, by Jaycee Dugard. I knew the premise, girl is kidnapped at age 11 and kept for 18 years, abused. I've read fiction stories and short stories about kidnappings, even a few true accounts. But I was not prepared for the author, Jaycee herself, writing from her 11 year-old perspective what she understood (or didn't understand) to be happening to her as it happened.
Within 20 pages I was horrified and sick. I put the book in my bag to take to school...one thing was for sure, I couldn't read it at night. Especially with my 11-year-old daughter in the next room...every bit as naive and innocent as Jaycee seemed at age 11.
I took it to school, figured I'd read during my studyhall, and then at least the bustle of the students in the periods before and after would distract my mind from dwelling on it. But, I found that was only so helpful. I could only read so much at once. The narrative continually has you wanting to throw the book in a crying fit and scream at the sheer impossibility of the degradation of humanity. How can we live in a world this sick?! And yet Jaycee herself is such a miracle of survival. Needless to say, the book stayed in my desk for the weekend and I'm questioning if I'll return to it. It may be the longest time I've ever taken to finish a book. Or it may be the first book to break my decades long record of reading every book I've started.
Which books have struck you to the core?