Wow!! Thanks to Kindle, I was able to download the book at about one in the morning, and it's now seven in the morning. I have not read a book in one sitting, or in one night for years!
People who saw the ABC interview with Diane Sawyer saw how warm and lovely this young lady is, and her book is like the interview but a hundred times warmer and more personal.
Jaycee's story is refreshing in that it's written by her, and not from a co-author. Much of the book are pages and pages taken from the actual journal entries she wrote while in her backyard prison. You can tell that her journal entries read in much same way as the rest of the book, so in a sense, the entire book is a continuation of her journaling and her ongoing mission in life to help others. For example, it's hard to tell when you're reading from her old journal entries from her more current writings of when she's authoring this book. It's really all one voice, and you definitely get a feel for how her voice resonates through.
Some readers on comment sections of news sites have mentioned they don't want to read the book due to graphic scenes being portrayed. Yes, these scenes are there, but written in a very mature way that I think people should really read. The book doesn't focus on these scenes, as rather the book focuses on simply sharing her story and conveying her sense of hope that's still beaming today. But the sexual abuse scenes are important to all of America as they describe horrifying sexual acts that often go by generic terms like 'rape' and 'molestation.' But what do those mean? Jaycee paints a much clearer picture, and in doing so, acts as the voice for all the victims of sexual abuse that can't share their story.
In America, sexual abuse is something that gets pushed under the rug, or punished. It's like there's no in between. Jaycee didn't know what the word rape meant while the act was being done to her, and I remember when I was 11 (I was also born in 1980 like Jaycee), I didn't know what the word rape meant either. I don't think I learned what the word meant until I was 13 or 14. Perhaps if more people learn about sexual abuse, and what it actually entails, then more can be done to protect innocent victims. And more importantly, when people realize what goes on behind closed doors of rapists, perhaps there won't be parole after just a few years for somebody who had already raped a woman for eight hours straight in a warehouse. Jaycee does an excellent job showing how her captor is a repeat offender, one that therapy cannot solve. Jaycee goes on to describe the failure of the therapists that her captor visited, and how they enabled him more than anything by allowing him to make excuses rather than be accountable for his behavior.
With all this being said, this book is probably not for young teenagers to read by themselves, as Jaycee shares vivid accounts of sexual abuses that happened to her; abuses she didn't even know the names for at the time. Cautiously I note, the entire book would be a great one for a parent and teenager to read and discuss together, with parental guidance on parts of the book that are tough to read or perhaps need proper perspective put into place. (Parents, you must read the book first, as you're the one to judge if the book is appropriate or not for your teenager). In my opinion, I think it's a subject that needs to be talked about more, even if it's difficult to read, but of course, that's up to parental discretion.
The only part I found that was hard to read in the book were the journal entries that talk about her thoughts and reactions to her captor's ongoing talk about Angels and how her captor believed the Angels control people. I don't know how many pages in the regular book, but it was a few pages on the Kindle. While it's tough to read, it illuminates just how unimaginably tougher it would be to live in that kind of manipulative situation on a daily basis.
What's also tough but enlightening to read is how much compassion she has for all the animals she cared for. Through all the events taking place upon her rescue, she even asks a couple officers if they can check on her animals and make sure they're okay, at which time the officers made sure to find them and get them temporary foster homes. The irony that develops through her selfless caring often mirrored her own reality: For example, Jaycee starts feeling really badly about one of her cats being locked up with her all the time, and feeling guilty for wanting the cat's company, she shares how a shed is no place for a cat. Yet she never shows any kind of self-pity on her own situation...all you see is your strength and courage.
I just can't believe these things happened to an 11 year old girl. You really get a sense into the manipulation of the captors (I refuse to say their names) and how through the horror of everything, Jaycee completely shines light throughout her memoir. It's like there's not even a 'hate' bone in her body -- she's an inspiration to us all; that love and hope conquers no matter. And the best thing is that the entire memoir is written so warmly, it's like Jaycee is sharing her story with you directly at the dinner table. And the goes on to share, now that she and her family are free, something very important to her: The simple daily act of cooking great foods and eating at the dinner table.
One last thing, in her journal entries she mentions her goals and plans for her future once she becomes free -- so many of them she's actually doing!