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Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail

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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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  • 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.

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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 May 3, 2005

    Not even as touching as a Halmark commercial

    Malika Oufkir and Michele Fitoussi collaborate together to create this book. Stolen lives tells the story of Malika Oufkir and her family and the suffering they endured at the hands of King Hassan II of Morocco. This story tries to tug at your heart strings, and pull you in with its tales of betrayal and human torture; tries being the key word. Just by reading the back of the book you could personally put together the events of Malika¿s life in a better way than this book does. Maybe the greatness of this story was lost in translation. Whatever happened, this story did not turn out very good on paper. You would think that spending almost twenty years in jail would allow Malika to think up some better adjectives, and allow her to find better ways to describe her horrible ordeal. Oprah has this book in her book club, and normally that means that the book is decent. Maybe Oprah was a little too touched when she met Malika, and that tainted her perceptions of this book. Now from what I have told you so far, you are probably thinking that this is the worst book I have ever read. Don¿t worry I have read three or four that are worse. I did give this book three stars because there are a couple of good parts within the book. The biggest problem I had with this book is that it is simply telling a story, and poorly at that. The writer does not take the reader into consideration while writing this book. The events of Malika¿s life that would be the most fascinating are quickly brushed over, and all the description is left to cover boring things like their pets and small trivial things they come across. Action makes for an interesting story, and in this book the action is brushed aside to make room to get all the mundane misfortune of prison into the story.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2004

    Tragic Story

    Although in no way suporting the obvious human rights violations perpetrated by the Morroccan government against the Oufkir family I couldn't help but get the feeling as I read the autobiographical account that it was somewhat 'contrived'. The facts of the family's imprisonment are deplorable. The story terrible. However it seems that there are certain variances in the telling of the story that don't make this particular version compelling.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2003

    Contradictory and Unbelievable

    I agree with Lynn, another reviewer, this story is hard to believe. So many details contradict eachother. Maybe it is hard for the author to document 20 years of prison between the pages of the book. And maybe their situation improved or worsened from month to month or day to day for that matter. However, I found it impossible to believe that they survived hunger strikes lasting over 40 days as she claims. I also found it hard to believe that starving people could or would sock away special food supplies to save for Christmas or Birthday cakes. Her description of the conditions is horrendous and I certainly feel like most humans would; appalled and sympathetic. I personally think that they were spoiled rich brats that, after their father attempted to assasinate the King, offended the King by mourning too heavily and not showing enough respect and humility. They were punished far and above what Americans would be (none), but they also knew that their actions would bring his ire and probably should have behaved more carefully. The story probably has some truth to it but I think that Malika embellished much of it as a way to seek revenge for the death of her father and possibly for the isolation that they did endure. It is hard to say what really happened, I just know that if someone doesn't eat for 40 days or more they usually die within a short period of time. She describes the filth and the poor health and the disease but upon their escape, she and her siblings caught a train and flirted with passengers to find a place to stay and from her description, the passengers were anticipating sexual encounters. I don't know about you but if a person was half starved, wearing rags, had bleeding festering wounds and hadn't bathed properly for years I wouldn't be interested in sex with them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2003

    MESSAGE TO Lisa, an avid reader, July 21, 2002,

    I haven't read the book but it does seem interesting. I'll probably pick it up. I just wanted to say to Lisa - KEEP TO THE SUBJECT MATTER! I don't care about your politics. Quite frankly, I don't care if the US and our President, knew about the Oufkir family being imprisoned and did nothing. Maybe you should focus more on whats happening in our backyards than in a foreign country. 'We as Americans go through this world with rose colored glasses and forget about the other people in this world that do not have it as good as we do. ' We're supposed to feel bad about that? Americans work hard to get where they are. 'We are very quick to blame and to take action when someone wrongs us' So you're saying we should forget about what happened in 911? Why don't you move to Morrocco?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2002

    NOT AS GOOD AS I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE

    I think the whole situation described in this book is very scary and shows what a dictatorship-type regime has the power to do. While I feel sorry for Malika and her family and I do not in any way condone what happened to them, I question the validity of some of the events in the book. I think that maybe the author has been encouraged to play the pity card for all it's worth so that the publisher can make a buck on the book. Or maybe Malika¿s memory is not quite correct. For instance, in the prison where they lived for years (where they were digging the tunnel), she talks endlessly of the silence and not ever hearing a thing outside the window. Then, towards the end of their imprisonment at that particular prison (as they were planning their escape), she mentions the braying of donkeys outside and the sound of airplanes. (They would listen to the airplanes to try to determine what kind they were and what direction they were heading.) She also talks about never having any fruits or candy or any special desserts--only the bare minimum food that was rotten and covered with rat feces. Then, later she discusses how the guards would bring them sweets and special treats for the children. They were also in this prison for years with their battery-powered radio as their only source of communication. Who kept their battery supply coming? I mean, years and years with the same batteries? Also, I wondered about the photos of the entire family upon re-capture. While the members didn't look happy, by any means, they were not as she described in the text. She states that they were without proper nutrition for years and had been reduced to skin and bones and that their teeth and hair had fallen out and that they were denied the simplest things such as clothing. The photos show the family looking relatively well-fed and dressed and the women even appear to be wearing makeup! Also, there were several years where she declares that they were imprisoned when, in fact, she later states that they were being held prisoner inside their own palace. The palace, by her own admission, contained gardens, separate homes and apartments, garages, cars, etc. So, while they may not have been allowed to go outside and mingle with the public, I hardly think that their own home could be considered a prison. I do not in any way think it¿s acceptable that Malika and her family should have suffered for anything their father may have been responsible for and I do not want other readers to feel that I doubt that Malika went through hell. But, I just think this book should have been more thoroughly researched and maybe the contradictions would have been caught. In all fairness, I don¿t think I can recommend this book as a true account.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2002

    NOT AS GOOD AS I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE

    I think the whole situation described in this book is very scary and shows what a dictatorship-type regime has the power to do. While I feel sorry for Malika and her family and I do not in any way condone what happened to them, I question the validity of some of the events in the book. I think that maybe the author has been encouraged to play the pity card for all it's worth so that the publisher can make a buck on the book. Or maybe Malika¿s memory is not quite correct. For instance, in the prison where they lived for years (where they were digging the tunnel), she talks endlessly of the silence and not ever hearing a thing outside the window. Then, towards the end of their imprisonment at that particular prison (as they were planning their escape), she mentions the braying of donkeys outside and the sound of airplanes. (They would listen to the airplanes to try to determine what kind they were and what direction they were heading.) She also talks about never having any fruits or candy or any special desserts--only the bare minimum food that was rotten and covered with rat feces. Then, later she discusses how the guards would bring them sweets and special treats for the children. They were also in this prison for years with their battery-powered radio as their only source of communication. Who kept their battery supply coming? I mean, years and years with the same batteries? Also, I wondered about the photos of the entire family upon re-capture. While the members didn't look happy, by any means, they were not as she described in the text. She states that they were without proper nutrition for years and had been reduced to skin and bones and that their teeth and hair had fallen out and that they were denied the simplest things such as clothing. The photos show the family looking relatively well-fed and dressed and the women even appear to be wearing makeup! Also, there were several years where she declares that they were imprisoned when, in fact, she later states that they were being held prisoner inside their own palace. The palace, by her own admission, contained gardens, separate homes and apartments, garages, cars, etc. So, while they may not have been allowed to go outside and mingle with the public, I hardly think that their own home could be considered a prison. I do not in any way think it¿s acceptable that Malika and her family should have suffered for anything their father may have been responsible for and I do not want other readers to feel that I doubt that Malika went through hell. But, I just think this book should have been more thoroughly researched and maybe the contradictions would have been caught. In all fairness, I don¿t think I can recommend this book as a true account.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2002

    Captivating but...

    While I really enjoyed reading the book and couldn't put it down, I, like the previous reviewer, question the accuracy of some of Malika Oufkir's accounts. I did notice some contradictions and some stories that could not possibly be true (same batteries for years). Even though I feel complete sympathy with the family for anything they endured and I feel outraged that children are punished for their parent's crime, I was annoyed at some of the author's opinions. Her father is by no means the noble character that she makes him to be. He did some ruthless things to innocent people. I did find the book well written and I recommend it however, if you plan to read it don't be swayed by sympathy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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