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Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

recomended

Too much Emotion


Stolen Lives, by Malika Oufkir, tells a great story of suffering through hardships. Malika is imprisoned for 20 years with her family in a desert jail. She attempts to remain strong because she acts like a role model for her family. Malika tries...
Too much Emotion


Stolen Lives, by Malika Oufkir, tells a great story of suffering through hardships. Malika is imprisoned for 20 years with her family in a desert jail. She attempts to remain strong because she acts like a role model for her family. Malika tries to stay strong on the outside, but in reality, she is doing all of this for herself. She writes as though she is the strongest in the family in an almost arrogant type of way. She just wants to believe that she is the one that led them to freedom and gets them through hardships.

The author uses the real emotions that she goes through to write this memoir. It feels as though she is pulling all of her feeling right out of her and putting them on the paper. It is very inspirational when you hear how she feels. You can really tell that she forgets about pain and helps lift her family out of imprisonment. After reading, I have a sense of hope, I know that I can't always give up at the first sign of trouble. Knowing that no matter what life throws at me, I will be able to overcome it. Malika writes about fear and hope using these emotions to express everything she wants to say.

I really enjoy how this book was written. Malika makes it very clear with her feelings on how she feels. Malika didn't reach her goal. She told mostly about her feelings, but she left out details about the main plot. I don't feel like she got her full story across, she does make it interesting when she shows so much feeling. She mostly wants to show the world about the injustice that is this story. But apart from the emotions that takes place in this story, it feels as though we were clueless as what was happening. She focuses on emotions which is great, but I think she needs to find a balance between how she is feeling and actually telling her story. In the end, we knew how she feels, but we should know more about what was going on in the outside.

Compared to others, this book exceeds them on the subject. Sometimes, in other memoirs like this, you don't get a sense on how they were feeling. They usually more focus on what is happening than what they are feeling. It ties emotions to the book in a whole new way. I really feel the same way that Malika describes. She also makes it so we had a strong idea of the theme. She does a fantastic job on making us believe that everything will always be okay as long as you never gives up hope. But on the other hand, you sometimes never know what is going on in the plot. It is like she is leaving out some important details. On some occasions she states that the guards pays no attention to them and are barley noticeable. But on other occasions, she describes the guards searching them and being very intrusive on all the minute details of their lives. There were times like these that were contradicting. These things make it irritating throughout the book. But overall, I think that her memoir is pretty good.

Having read this book, I really feels that I knew what hope was. She writes with such strong emotion and sense of hope and believing in yourself. I recommend this book, and I would give it a B-. This is a good book and it is great in the category of suffering through hardships. If she could have just put in more details about the plot. Sometimes, too much emotion will actually start to take away from the memoir.

posted by Gioblah2 on January 29, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Amazing Book

I believe it is one of the greatest books I ever read. I still remember what they went through, after three years. I couldn't believe the horror and cruelty they felt, and knowing it was a true story, it was more difficult to realise the growth of pain.

posted by Anonymous on February 14, 2002

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  • Posted January 29, 2012

    recomended

    Too much Emotion


    Stolen Lives, by Malika Oufkir, tells a great story of suffering through hardships. Malika is imprisoned for 20 years with her family in a desert jail. She attempts to remain strong because she acts like a role model for her family. Malika tries to stay strong on the outside, but in reality, she is doing all of this for herself. She writes as though she is the strongest in the family in an almost arrogant type of way. She just wants to believe that she is the one that led them to freedom and gets them through hardships.

    The author uses the real emotions that she goes through to write this memoir. It feels as though she is pulling all of her feeling right out of her and putting them on the paper. It is very inspirational when you hear how she feels. You can really tell that she forgets about pain and helps lift her family out of imprisonment. After reading, I have a sense of hope, I know that I can't always give up at the first sign of trouble. Knowing that no matter what life throws at me, I will be able to overcome it. Malika writes about fear and hope using these emotions to express everything she wants to say.

    I really enjoy how this book was written. Malika makes it very clear with her feelings on how she feels. Malika didn't reach her goal. She told mostly about her feelings, but she left out details about the main plot. I don't feel like she got her full story across, she does make it interesting when she shows so much feeling. She mostly wants to show the world about the injustice that is this story. But apart from the emotions that takes place in this story, it feels as though we were clueless as what was happening. She focuses on emotions which is great, but I think she needs to find a balance between how she is feeling and actually telling her story. In the end, we knew how she feels, but we should know more about what was going on in the outside.

    Compared to others, this book exceeds them on the subject. Sometimes, in other memoirs like this, you don't get a sense on how they were feeling. They usually more focus on what is happening than what they are feeling. It ties emotions to the book in a whole new way. I really feel the same way that Malika describes. She also makes it so we had a strong idea of the theme. She does a fantastic job on making us believe that everything will always be okay as long as you never gives up hope. But on the other hand, you sometimes never know what is going on in the plot. It is like she is leaving out some important details. On some occasions she states that the guards pays no attention to them and are barley noticeable. But on other occasions, she describes the guards searching them and being very intrusive on all the minute details of their lives. There were times like these that were contradicting. These things make it irritating throughout the book. But overall, I think that her memoir is pretty good.

    Having read this book, I really feels that I knew what hope was. She writes with such strong emotion and sense of hope and believing in yourself. I recommend this book, and I would give it a B-. This is a good book and it is great in the category of suffering through hardships. If she could have just put in more details about the plot. Sometimes, too much emotion will actually start to take away from the memoir.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2002

    Amazing Book

    I believe it is one of the greatest books I ever read. I still remember what they went through, after three years. I couldn't believe the horror and cruelty they felt, and knowing it was a true story, it was more difficult to realise the growth of pain.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2014

    Stolen Lives was a hard book to understand in the beginning and

    Stolen Lives was a hard book to understand in the beginning and throughout the middle. Sometimes the author didn’t give specific names and details which made it difficult for me to understand what was going on. The book was hard for me to get into at first but it slowly got more and more interesting. I liked how the book was told from Malika’s perspective but it also gave some insight on the other characters. In some parts of the book, Malika would explain how some of her siblings were coping with being imprisoned. I also liked how the author included imagery in her writing. Malika gave details about where her and her family was staying and how they were living.
    I would recommend Stolen Lives to anyone around my age and older because you don’t need to be interested in history to understand this book and be able to read it. It isn’t a slow or fast read but it has some harder words. Stolen Lives is actually quite interesting when Malika Oufkir starts to talk about her and her family’s imprisonment. Coming from someone like me who doesn’t prefer reading history books, it is a fascinating read!
    I would recommend Stolen Lives to certain high school students, but not any student. I would recommend this book to a student who needs to read a book for a history report like me, or a student who is interested in reading history related books. I say this because it is not a book I recommend if someone was looking for a book to read just for fun. I think adults would be able to understand Stolen Lives quicker and find it more interesting than people my age. Although, I do believe it was a good book to read for my history report.
    I am glad I chose to read Stolen Lives because I learned a few things from it. I really admire the author for telling her story through this book. I think it’s very neat to read about a true story, especially when it didn’t happen too long ago and they are still alive.

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  • Posted May 26, 2012

    This is one truly emotional & awesome book to read. What thi

    This is one truly emotional & awesome book to read. What this family went through, I don't wish on anyone else. This is one story you'll want to read over & over. You'll be able to feel her pain, the nightmares they lived through, etc. If you buy it, I do hope you like it. Me, I LOVE it.

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  • Posted January 29, 2012

    Palaces to Prisons

    In the early 1970s, a mother and her children were forced to live as prisoners in the deserts of Morocco for the crimes of her husband against the king. It is for the next twenty years that they spend their lives as prisoners. Over this time the family learns of the extent of human cruelty and of the tendency for the rest of the world to just ignore it. This is the basic plot of the story that Malika Oufkir, the eldest daughter of the mother, tells of a very hard time in her life recorded in the book Stolen Lives by Michèle Fitoussi. Through telling her memoir, it is my belief that Malika is trying to open the eyes of her reader to the cruelty and suffering that is still occurring in our world. I believe she wants her readers to stop ignoring this suffering and start acting against it.

    For the most part this book was very well put together, however I did have a few issues with it every now and then. The clarity of the writing would be one of these issues. For most of the book I could easily understand what was going on but there were a few occasions when the family was in prison that I got confused as to how certain things were happening. I think this was a either a result of a slight lack of description of the prison or the book being translated. Small problems such as this one didn’t affect the Malika’s ability to get her point across though. Instead, she was able to use the experiences she and her family went through to create a very persuasive and inspiring work. It makes the reader feel the pain the Oufkirs went through and makes them angry about what happened. This anger creates a want in the reader to do something about this cruelty, fulfilling Malika’s goal.

    Now obviously I have no personal experience on suffering in a prison for twenty years but I have read many books involving human suffering. Compared to theses books, I’ve noticed a few similarities and differences which both contribute and hurt the book. In this book Malika includes a lot about her life prior to the time she spent in prison. Usually books similar to this one include very little about this topic, but in this case much of the first half of the book was based on it. This was important to the story because of the fact Malika lived in the royal palace with the king before she went to prison. However, I would have still liked to see the book focused a little less on this topic. Malika also includes how her family’s experience has affected them in the long run. Most books I’ve read like this one just end as soon as the main character’s experience of suffering is over, but in this book Malika goes on to tell us what her family is like today. This strengthens her message by showing the long-term effects of their suffering. One last thing I was very happy to see was Malika helped the author write the book. I find it crucial for someone who experienced the event to be involved in the writing of the book about it. I think it just makes it more believable and meaningful. Luckily Michèle made the right choice and chose to involve Malika in the writing of her book.

    Due to the fact that Malika was the one experiencing the traumatic event of human cruelty she describes in Stolen Lives, she is able to use her experiences to easily voice her opinion to her readers. This ability along with the incredibleness of her story allowed her to create both a very interesting and informative book. Because of this, I give this book an –A and recommend it to all mature

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  • Posted October 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    True or Not??

    This book was not well written. Maybe it was the translation but it really bugs me when words are misspelled or it doesnt even make sense. I'm also caught between this book either not being true or her holding back as to not shame family or goverment intervention. Alot of things bugged me in this book. While in prison she knew where her grandfather lived but when she escaped she didnt??? Claiming her father was a good man but has murdered people??? Just alot of things didnt add up as other reviewers has mentioned.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2010

    Incredible

    Malika Oufkir started out with a fairy tail life, but things changed for her drastically when she was nineteen years old. After her father tried killing the king of morocco and failed, he was executed and her family was put into a secret prison for 20 years. Finally in 1991, her family found freedom, escaping to France. This book really teaches the reader a lot about hope, and finding the good in things in terrible times. Malika and her six siblings were imprisoned when they are young adults and young children, and they never gave up on life. Malika's mother took great care of her children while they were all in jail, and she taught them to never give up and to always have hope. I really like this book, because it taught me a lot, made me think, and made me be appreciative. After reading this book I can look into my own life and find good in even the little things. It makes me realize there is more to life than what is going on in my own little world. The world is huge and I only live in a tiny part of it. The situation that Malika and her family go through made me think about different countries and how they lack the freedom I, as an American, take for granted. It made me think about the different forms of government and that ours isn't the only one out there. Most of all, after reading this book, I have become way more appreciative of the things I have in my life. School is something that I often take for granted, not wanting to get up in the morning and go work on schoolwork, but I now realize that going to school is a freedom that many people around the world simply don't have. As an American teenager it's pretty common to always want more, and I can't say that I have completely changed and will always be content, but I have learned to be less selfish and realized I don't need everything I think I do. Stolen Lives has changed the way I look at my own life and also the world around me. The only thing I disliked about this book is knowing that it is a true story, and that a family really had to endure the trials that the Oufkir family had to go through. I definitely recommend this book for readers in high school especially. It really puts the reader's life in perspective, and helps them to learn about other parts of the world.

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  • Posted June 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Astounding

    This book is one of the best books I have ever read. The things that happen to her and her family are so horrible and unimaginable they almsot don't seem real. I cannot imagine them actually happening and it is heartbreaking that they did.

    I loved this book and definately recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2009

    Stolen Lives

    Reading Stolen Lives, my eyes opened up to something that I would never of imagined possible and how cruel and heartless people can actually be. Seeing through Malika¿s eyes how growing up in the sheltered world of the palace then finally experiencing life and being free for only a couple of years, and then in an instant having everything being taken away from you for an unjust reason. When the Oufkir family was in prison, you would imagine that they would at least be treated like humans because they are and because it wasn¿t them who tried to kill the King. Instead of that, they where treated like dirt and as if they were the source of every ones problems in the world. But the incredible thing about their unfortunate imprisonment is their amazing spirit and their optimism even in the worst of times. Malika said she believed that it was the story she would constantly tell that kept them so close and alive. Because of everything I learned and gained from this book, I would defiantly recommend this book to anyone with a loving heart and some one who wants read a touching, heartfelt, true story that is absolutely unbelievable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2008

    Powerful indignation! Read this.

    Thankfully we live this story only vicariously through the well written words of one translator. The painful suffering of an innocent family, no doubt, evokes the festering madness in our imagination with the turn of every page, but to read of suffering children really got to me. A powerful story with ample emotion. Perhaps this read should be the prescription for those who claim boredom. ...or those who take feedom for granted, or today's youth who think crime is the only way. Read this book, think twice about how fortunate most of us really are.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2008

    A reviewer

    This book was easy reading! It is quite an incredible story and I have reccommended it to many. You will count your blessings when you finish reading this one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2007

    Wonderful

    I read this book and could not put it down!!! Wonderful reading. My emotions became so tangled when reading the book. I often found myself sad, hopeful, and excited. Great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2007

    This Is a Book That Changed my Outlook on Life

    This stunning memoir is about a woman called Malika Oufkir and her family who were part of the Moroccan elite and in the 1970's were punished for their father's crime of participating in a coup. This was done to them, however, in spite of them having absolutely no knowledge of their father's plans. Their father was killed and her, her mother and all of her sisters and brothers were imprisoned in nightmarish desert jails for most of their adult lives. They were starved, abused, and forgotten. This lack of food plays a particularly prominent part in their story, as there are many parts of the book Malika shares where the whole family had the most basic neccessities witheld from them, and out of desperation would be forced to pluck and eat wild dandelion weeds growing up out of the ground or the rat droppings strewn around their cell. This was especially tough for me to read for their intense suffering seemed so wildly unfair and unjust. What could possibly excuse the suffering of children? Throughout what would seem like insurmountable odds, however, the family kept their sanity, love, and devotion to each other intact. The Oufkir family, in my opinion, are the TRUE definition of heroes, in a world where that word is applied all too lightly. There are very few books that have the capability to change the reader's outlook on life and their fellow man, and Oufkir's outstanding autobiography is surely at the top of that golden list. A solid 5 stars!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    Death in the Form of Life

    Punished, starved, isolated and lifeless for 2 decades. In the memoir Stolen Lives, Malikia Oufkir is presented as a complex character who struggles with her family as their lives are stolen by the Moroccan Monarch and placed into a desert jail where the Oufkir family suffers from physical torture and the mental torture of moving from high class palace live to isolated jail cell far from their world. Growing up Malikia was a spoiled brat she was adopted by King Muhammad V at age 5 and grew up with his daughter, and was just as privileged as the princess. As she grew older, she missed her family immensely and returned home only to be just as spoiled, ¿My life was an endless round of parties and balls, with guest straight out of the society gossip columns¿ (Oufkir 75). Her father, General Oufkir who was a very powerful political figure, provided her lifestyle back at home. Malikia took her upper class life extremely for granted, she recalls, ¿I took everything for granted, money, luxury, power, royalty and subservience¿ (Oufkir 75). Not only did she take the material items for granted she also had an ignorant outlook on her family¿s love for her. Upon her adoption she pondered,¿Did my mother cry till dawn, as I did? Did she open the door to my room from time to time, did she sniff my clothes, did she sit on my bed, did she miss me?¿ (Oufkir 20). Throughout the book it is obvious that Malikia is loved by the mass majority of people that she meets. The concept of acceptance and love for Malikia appears as a challenge that affects Malikia in many ways. After the murder of her father, Malikia is torn between the love she once and thought she would always have for her adopted family and the question of because he was the man that sought out to kill her biological father for political reasons, had that love turned to hate? This is a thought that almost haunts Malikia to her core. This thought only stabs at her heart more after her and her family are sent of to a desert prison for 20 years. ¿This was a county that locked up children for their father¿s crimes. We were entering a world of insanity¿ (Oufkir 103). A world of insanity was right. Lack of noise, lack of time, lack of life. This took its toll on the Oufkir family, but it was only the beginning. It took a toll so much on the family that the youngest boy, Abdellatif who was only 8 years old and had experienced the least of life. Mentally the Oukir¿s were bored and helpless being tortured for someone else¿s crime. However, the torture physically was unbearable and in some causes potentially deadly. ¿We could all have died twenty times over¿ (Oufkir 159). The prison harbored rats the Oufkirs feared and loathed, they would have to hide and battle their food for. At night the rats would run over them and search for crumbs. Fleas were also present in the desert prison.For twenty years the Oufkirs were forced to put up with such appalling conditions. This book teaches not to take your everyday life and shows you the true value of family, friendship and loyalty. I highly recommend this book to almost anybody. Reading this book is one of the smartest things to do in this day and age because we are such a materialistic society.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2007

    A reviewer

    I hate to say it, but reading this book was like reading a sappy and very poorly written drama. The subject matter is fascinating, but I felt that the terrible writing really took away from this book. Very amateurish writing, very disappointing....it seems these days that anyone can get away with writing a book and get great reviews if the subject is politically correct enough.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2007

    MUST READ

    This book was GREAT. It kept my attention and was very educational. The story was sad, exciting, and heart-warming. i would recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2005

    Wonderful

    From the title I resisted this read. Once started I couldn't stop. While tragic it was amazing how this family could keep sane and unified. It was also interesting to read the first 1/3 of the book dealing with how a princess lives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2006

    A Must Read!

    This book was absolutely fabulous. It kept my attention and was very educational. The story was sad, exciting, heart- warming and a glance at a tight family bond. Definately a MUST READ!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2005

    Sad and very touching but very informative.

    I love this book. It was very touching to read and see what some women go through in other countries. I read it in three days as I could not put it down once I started reading it. I love true stories and this is one that really captivated my mind and my heart. It can make one mad to see that those kings/princes can do what ever they please with a woman or a family in this case and that there is no one to defend them. Before I read this book I had no idea of how a life in a Morroccan castle would be. I did not realize of the number of concubines a king might possess and that they can get such beatings. Disgusting. However, I admire and respect Malika for her faith and strength. She deserves an A + for writing this very informative book. Here you read about the inner feelings of this grown up, mature woman who is still a little girl at heart sometimes. This books opens our eyes to see how those governments treat women. Imagine being a concubine all of your life and when your king dies or when you're no longer needed, as in the case of the two Turkish women mentioned in her book, they just discard of you like a piece of junk. It surely made me very happy that I live in the United States and makes me appreciate my freedom even more. Too bad that King Hasan II never paid for the injustice he did to Malika and her family. I would recommend this book to anyone, by all means. Thank you Malika for the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2005

    Geat book a must read

    I really enjoy reading this book it was so good that I finished it in a week. This book will make you mad sad and also be glad that you where born in a great country America

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