Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail

Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail

4.5 92
by Malika Oufkir, Michele Fitoussi, Michele Fitoussi, Michele Fitoussi

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Malika Oufkir was born into extreme privilege as the daughter of the king of Morocco's closest aide. But in 1972, her life of luxury came to a crashing halt. Her father was executed for attempting to assassinate the king, and she and her family were imprisoned for two decades. Stolen Lives is the story of their resilience and their resolve to live in freedom.  See more details below


Malika Oufkir was born into extreme privilege as the daughter of the king of Morocco's closest aide. But in 1972, her life of luxury came to a crashing halt. Her father was executed for attempting to assassinate the king, and she and her family were imprisoned for two decades. Stolen Lives is the story of their resilience and their resolve to live in freedom.

Editorial Reviews
On August 15th, 1972, Malika Oufkir was probably the most privileged teenager in all Morocco. The eldest daughter of King Hassan II's top aide, she had been raised in the opulent seclusion of the monarch's harem. But within 24 hours, her father would be tried and summarily executed for treason, and she and her entire family would be arrested and imprisoned in a remote desert penal colony. For the next 20 years, her accommodations would only grow worse.

Malika Oufkir's memories of her 20-year incarceration -- most of it in vermin-infested solitary confinement -- rivets your attention and educates your senses.

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Gale Cengage Learning
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Large Print
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6.10(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.99(d)

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Excerpt from

Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail (Oprah Edition)

Malika Oufkir tosses her fur coat onto the bed in her midtown Manhattan hotel room. She's elegant, slender, and quite beautiful, but, as she says, "I am not normal."

In truth, there is almost nothing normal about Oufkir. More than four years after she left Morocco, where she and her mother and brothers and sisters spent 20 years in prison, Oufkir still panics when she is out in the open. She craves quiet, dark rooms where she can be alone. New York frightens her. She hates crowds. She likes to eat alone, in silence.

"If I talk about it too much, think about it too much, I could become crazy or have a very violent reaction," Oufkir says of the time she spent in Bir-Jdid prison for a crime in which everyone knew she had taken no part. She was just 19 when her father, a powerful Moroccan general, led a failed coup against King Hassan II; the monarch immediately ordered General Oufkir's execution and banished his widow and six children, Malika, Myriam ("Mimi"), Maria, Soukaina, Raouf, and three-year-old Abdellatif, into internal exile.

Shuttled from prison to prison for five years, Oufkir and her family were eventually dispatched to Bir-Jdid, a prison barrack near Casablanca. Locked in separate cells around a central corridor, unable to see one another, Oufkir and her siblings spent their youth in Bir-Jdid, plagued by insects, vermin, and brutal deprivation.

"Hassan enjoyed keeping us in prison, starving us, freezing us, leaving us without beds or sheets or medical care. I think he took pleasure in it every day," Oufkir tells me, as if speaking of something that is both vaguely remote and entirely present. "He could have killed us. But he preferred to have us die slowly." Desperately-and miraculously-Oufkir and her family defied the fate Hassan intended for them when, using a spoon and a sardine can lid, they dug their way to freedom.

In heart-stopping and suspenseful portions of Stolen Lives, Oufkir's remarkable memoir, she recounts the days she and three of her siblings spent racing from embassy to embassy, attempting to gain political asylum after their escape from Bir-Jdid. The outcasts, now fugitives, faced unspeakable retribution if discovered. Hollow-faced, destitute, dressed in 15-year-old rags, they hitchhiked across Morocco, seeking help from former friends who, fearing the king, again and again turned them away. After five days on the lam, they succeeded in getting a hotel guest to phone Alain de Chalvron, a French radio reporter in Paris. "An incredible scoop," said de Chalvron, who alerted the French embassy to the Oufkirs' plight. Once their story was out, the condemnation of the international community made it impossible for Hassan to punish the family; Moroccan authorities nonetheless managed to keep them under house arrest for another three and a half years.

Even before her family's exile and escape, Oufkir led an extraordinary life. Born into an affluent and powerful family, she was chosen-at age five-by King Muhammad V to be a companion to his own small daughter, Princess Lalla Mina. The king moved Oufkir into a villa near the palace that she shared with his daughter. After three years Muhammad died, and his son Hassan II inherited the throne and guardianship of both Lalla Mina and Oufkir. Like his father, Hassan lavished attention and kindness on the girls and retained a strict German governess to ensure that they would be raised properly. Oufkir fondly recalls sitting around the piano, singing and dancing and otherwise enjoying good times with Lalla Mina and the new king. For 11 years Oufkir lived a sumptuous, if sheltered, life among Moroccan royalty, leaving the palace only occasionally for spa trips and ski vacations.

At 16, she says, Oufkir hungered for a taste of real life and at last prevailed on the king to let her return to her own father and mother. She looked forward to life as a normal person-and to falling in love. But she didn't get the chance. Three years later her father attempted a coup against Hassan II, the man who had raised her for eight years. It was Hassan who would banish her family to prison.

Traces of both the prisoner and the princess Oufkir has been are evident as we speak; there is a regal quality to her great grace and poise, but there is no mistaking the haunted look in her eye. "I wrote the book in a crashing hurry," she says softly of Stolen Lives. "My friends could not understand why. I told them, `If this is published after Hassan dies, it would be terrible. Through his sister he invited me back to the palace. But I refused. He did not want me to talk, to write. With this book I defied him." Hassan II died five months after Oufkir's gripping, remorseless memoir was published (under the title La Prisonnière) in France-where it quickly became a best-seller.

Today, Oufkir lives in Paris with her husband, a French architect raised in Lebanon who is fluent in Arabic and whom she met at a Moroccan wedding eight years after her escape from Bir-Jdid. Unable to bear children because of an infection she suffered while in prison, she acts as head of her extended family; Abdellatif, the brother who was incarcerated as a toddler and is now deeply wounded by his stunted, aberrant childhood, lives with her, as does her sister Myriam.

At 47, Oufkir has found the freedom-and love-she craved so desperately for so long. But it has not brought comfort. "I don't know what it means to be free," she says. "It is easier to be a prisoner." There is no self-pity as she explains how difficult it is for her to live in Paris. "Every day I suffer. I'm surviving, not living. I want to be like everyone else. I try, but I can't. There are two decades of prison between me and the world." She draws her hunter-green suede jacket close around her slender frame.

"Anyway, I do not really want happiness, because that would deny my experience. I am like a person who has lost a limb and tries to act normal. They can't. Neither can I. I have arms and legs, but inside something has changed." The strength and resolve that enabled Oufkir to survive are visible on her face, as is the fragility that is the legacy of her ordeal. "Prison stole the best things from me. Yet my experience is so rich. Prison was a detour, the way in which I managed to avoid mediocrity. Without it I would be a normal woman, with money and power. But inside? Nothing."

In the following exclusive excerpt from Stolen Lives Oufkir chronicles her life in a Moroccan prison and describes the family's death-defying escape. -Amy Wilentz the great escape: an exclusive excerpt from stolen lives

It was around four o'clock on August 16, 1972, and I was at my family's house in Casablanca with some friends, talking and laughing in the living room. Prompted by an intuition I can't explain, I switched on the television. A newscaster was announcing that there had been a coup d'état and that the king's plane had been fired on. It was unclear who was responsible.

I rushed over to the radio, frantic for more news yet dreading what I might hear: that it was my father who was behind the coup. He was a powerful general in the Moroccan army and had been at increasing odds with the king, Hassan II. But information on the radio was hazy too. No one seemed to know anything for certain. There was only speculation that my father, General Oufkir, was involved and that the coup had succeeded. Order had not yet been restored in the capital. One of my friends, though, was convinced my father was involved. She got up and pointed at me, hysterically babbling that the army would surround us, that I would be killed and so would they. She urged everyone to leave at once. I sat, terrified, not knowing what to do. I tried calling my mother and brothers and sisters at our house in Rabat; the lines were busy or there was no answer.

Around seven o'clock the phone rang. It was my father. He spoke with the voice of a man who has decided to commit suicide and is recording his last message. It was as if a ghost was talk- ing to me. He told me he loved me and that he was proud of me. Then he added, "I ask you to remain calm, whatever happens. Don't leave the house until the escort comes to get you."

I began to scream. He kept saying things I didn't want to hear. I wanted him to reassure me, to tell me it hadn't been him. But from the start of our conversation I understood it was. And that he had failed.

I couldn't sleep and couldn't stop thinking about my father's last words-his warning not to leave. Something terrible had happened. Around 5 a.m. the next day the phone rang again. It was my mother. Without hesitating she confirmed what I was most afraid to hear: "Your father is dead. Pack your things and come back to Rabat."

Four months later, once the official mourning period for my father had ended, the head of police arrived at our house and told my mother to get the family packed. We left on Christmas Eve-my mother, her six children, and Achoura and Halima, two loyal members of the household staff. Mother had just turned 36. I was 19, my sister Mimi was 17, my brother Raouf 14, and the girls, Maria and Soukaina, were just 10 and nine. My baby brother Abdellatif was three and a half.

We were told we would be going away for two weeks. We would never really return. Our first jail was a filthy mud house of flaking plaster walls and sand floors-part of an army barracks in Assa, a town near the Algerian border. I found everything there repulsive, from the coarse military blankets to the thin foam mattresses to the lack of proper toilets. All nine of us shared the small house together and were under constant surveillance. But by and large the guards showed us sympathy. We could listen to the radio and were given plenty of bread, goat meat, and honey to eat. We were also allowed to go into the nearby town with a police escort for two hours every day. I refused to go-I did not want to be dependent on our captors' goodwill-but the visits were very important for the children. The escorts always treated them very well, and the villagers would send them back with cakes and treats.

Fundamentally this was not much of a change from our past life. As far back as I could remember, I had never lived without several armed police responsible for my safety. The only difference here was that instead of protecting me they were keeping watch. My life was a fairy tale in reverse. I had been brought up as a princess and was now turning into Cinderella. Gradually I was shedding my old habits. We had brought around 20 designer suitcases with us-Vuitton, Hermès, and Gucci-filled with Paris couture and children's clothes from Geneva, but the idea of wearing any of it soon became ludicrous. After a few months we always wore the same old clothes.

After about a year we were told that we'd be leaving. There was no explanation, but on thinking about it a little later I concluded that the villagers must have been growing too sympathetic toward us and word of this had gotten back to the king.

We were taken to an abandoned military fort in Tamattaght, a town even more remote than Assa. There conditions were dramatically worse. The nine of us were given two rooms inside an old and crumbling fort. There was a hole that served as a toilet, and a little dirt enclave we used as a kitchen. A small but mostly enclosed outdoor space provided us with our only fresh air. This would be our home for almost four years.

As at Assa, we were generally well treated. Of the 25 policemen under orders to guard us day and night, around three-quarters had previously done security duty at our house in Rabat. They had known my father, directly or indirectly. They respected my mother and loved us children in a paternal way. When they could, they would bring us contraband food as well as occasional books and letters. But they could never let us out, which meant that while we were there, enclosed in the fort's towering walls, we almost never saw anything but the smallest patch of sky.

And so we learned to live together. In wretched, cramped, filthy conditions-in darkness, isolation, and confinement. We tried to impose a structure on our days. We would al-ways eat three meals a day together, and sit down for tea. I also created an informal school for the children, setting up "classes" in which to teach them French and math. It was difficult for all of us, increasingly so. Raouf was not yet over the loss of his father, at an age when a boy probably needs his father most. Soukaina was entering a moody adolescence. Maria was extremely fragile-when something upset her she often would not eat, speak, or move for hours. As for Mimi, she was in the most difficult straits of all. She had epilepsy, and though the guards were able to sneak drugs to her, the stress of prison caused her fits to increase anyway. Abdellatif adapted to it most readily.

At night I'd hear my mother sobbing. Alone in her bed, she wept over the loss of her husband. As for me, especially during those early years in prison, I dreamed only of the king, Hassan II. I relived my life at the palace: my pranks, our laughter, my tête-à-têtes with him, our special moments. I never revisited happy family scenes, or painful ones-my father's death or the mourning that followed it. There was no resentment in my dreams, no confrontation or rebellion. I had nothing but happy memories of my childhood, even though in a sense it had been stolen from me. I would wake up overcome with shame and guilt. My feelings toward the king were complicated: My own father had tried to kill my adoptive father and as a result he was dead. Sometimes I didn't know which father I missed most, which one to grieve for. I was the product of my palace upbringing; everything I was, I owed to the man who had raised me and who was now keeping me imprisoned. At the same time I loved my real father so much.

But if I still respected Hassan II as my adoptive father, I hated the despot he had become the day he began to persecute us. I hated him for his hatred, I hated him for my ruined life, for my mother's misery and the mutilated childhood of my brothers and sisters. I hated him for the irreparable crime he had committed in locking up a woman and six children for such a long time and in such inhuman conditions.

We continually implored Hassan to release us. Every year on his birthday we wrote letters. We even wrote him a petition for a pardon, signed in our blood.

Then one day, after almost four years in Tamattaght, we were told to pack. The children were glad. The rest of us were torn between hope and dread.

Our next journey lasted 24 hours. The nine of us were divided into three armored trucks with blacked-out windows. We were under constant surveillance and could not even find a discreet spot when we got out to relieve ourselves; the police came with us and watched until we had finished. It was February. As we drove, I noticed the air beginning to smell damp and the sound of frogs croaking so I concluded that we had left the desert and were now near the coast. It turns out I was not mistaken. The Bir-Jdid barracks, where we were being taken, were 27 miles from Casablanca. This we discovered much later.

Finally the trucks slowed to a halt. We were blindfolded and led through one door and then through another. The blindfolds were removed, and we found ourselves in the small courtyard of what seemed to be a former farmhouse-now converted to a prison. The walls of the enclosure were so high that we couldn't see the sky. Soldiers stood at arms in each corner.

Four doors opened onto the courtyard. The rooms behind them, we were told, would be our cells. The first, which Mother was to share with Abdellatif, was at right angles to the other three. The second I would share with my sisters. Achoura and Halima would share the third, and Raouf would be alone in the cell on the end. Each of the cells included several little rooms. Ours included a main room with a toilet, one larger room, and a smaller room, where we would end up storing the suitcases we were still lugging around.

The appearance of these new quarters did not bode well for our future comfort. Even though we were already accustomed to discomfort, filth, and minimal amenities, these cells were squalid. Rivulets of moisture ran from the ceiling down to the stone floor. The only light would be dim, coming from a generator that operated a few hours each night. The mattresses were just thin layers of foam with covers of dubious cleanliness set on rusty metal bed frames.

Right away we were told that we would be separated at night. We would be allowed to see each other during the day and to eat together, but at night each person would have to go back to his or her own cell. This news made us all sob. Mother cried and pleaded, saying they didn't have the right to separate her from her children. But we were told that these rules could not be relaxed.

Under this new regime, from eight in the morning until nightfall the doors were unlocked and we could go in and out of one another's cells. Generally we all gathered in mine. This freedom of movement allowed us to carry on the routines we'd grown used to-we would cook and eat together, and play with the children during the day. But here our lives were much more closely monitored. And unlike our former captors, those at Bir-Jdid showed us little sympathy. The commander, a man named Borro, was utterly devoid of compassion and seemed to take his orders directly from Rabat. Four other guards worked under his command-they would be rotated every month or so, apparently to prevent them from developing any sympathy for us. Outside our small prison, we were informed, even more guards were stationed. They would stop anyone from coming to help us. Inside the prison walls Mother, Raouf, and I seemed to be the guards' main concern. Mother because she was the wife of the hated general, me because they were aware of my influence over the rest of the family, and Raouf because he was his father's son and it was natural that he would want to avenge him. Of us all it was Raouf who suffered the most physically, who took the most knocks. I lived with a permanent fear in the pit of my stomach: fear of being killed, beaten, or raped; fear of constant humiliation. But we were never seriously beaten-only Raouf. The first search took place at the beginning of April, two months after our arrival. The aim was to intimidate us. Borro's men locked us up in Raouf's cell until nightfall. Inside we could hear dull thuds, the sound of hammering. When we were finally allowed out, the damage was impressive. They had gathered our most valued belongings-our trinkets and books, Abdellatif's toys, much of our clothing, Mother's jewelry, and my photo album-and had lit a huge bonfire with everything that was combustible. (We took the fact that they did not burn our luggage as a small sign of hope: Someday we would be leaving.) The children were all the more traumatized when Borro forcibly searched Soukaina, who was only 13. Afterward she ran a high temperature for 10 days.

Then, on January 30, Raouf's 20th birthday, we were informed that he would be locked up for all but two hours a day. A few days later my sisters and I met the same fate. Next it was Mother and Abdellatif. During this phase we were allowed to go out into the courtyard for a breath of air, but only in shifts. Mother and Abdellatif went out in the morning until 10; then it was my turn, with my sisters. We would stand under Raouf's window, he'd cling to the bars, and we'd chat. He was so desperate to express himself that he would monopolize the conversation. He would talk about our father and his longing to avenge him. And about sex. He suffered far more than we did from our forced abstinence and would tell the girls stories of his early trips to prostitutes-accepted practice for bourgeois boys in Morocco-that would have them howling with laughter.

After a few months, however, even these brief hours outside were forbidden. We were all locked up 24 hours a day.

I was 24 years old, and for the next nine years the only faces I saw were those of my sisters and the guards. My mother, Abdellatif, Raouf, and Halima and Achoura were mere voices through a wall. For more than five years we had managed to preserve a family life, a cocoon in which we protected each other. At Bir-Jdid, family life was out of the question. Everything was out of the question.

Once we were confined to our cells, our lives became completely regulated by the guards. They stopped by three times a day to bring us meal trays, and at midday to give us bread. For the first few months my sisters and I clung to a semblance of a timetable. In the morning we would exercise-I concocted a "bums and tums" workout, and we tossed a bag of rags around as a makeshift volleyball. In the afternoon we told stories. Later we gave up physical activity. Our bodies no longer responded; we just sat around.

Our biggest enemy was time. It was tangible, monstrous, threatening, and almost impossible to master. In the summer, dusk brought back memories of the sweetness of the old days, the end of a day at the beach, time for an aperitif, the laughter of friends, the smell of the sea, the tang of salt on my bronzed skin. I relived the little I had experienced. We didn't do anything. We'd follow the progress of a cockroach from one hole in the wall to another. Doze. Empty our minds. The sky would change color and the day draw to a close. A week felt like a day, the months like weeks; a year meant nothing. And I was wasting away. I learned to die inwardly. I often had the feeling I was living in a black hole.

Despite everything, my sisters and I got along well. The lack of privacy was torture, especially for two young women and two teenage girls. Washing, going to the toilet, and moaning in pain were all public acts-but we quickly got used to it. Unable to divest myself of my palace upbringing, I wouldn't allow the slightest breach of manners. We behaved properly at the table, we chewed delicately, we said please and thank you and excuse me. We washed ourselves scrupulously every day, especially when we had our periods, despite the freezing salt water we were given in the middle of winter that turned our skin bright red and made us shriek. ...

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Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 91 reviews.
Gioblah2 More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
DreamCatcher53 More than 1 year ago
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.
Farmkid567 More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TammyR More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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MandyTX More than 1 year ago
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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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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Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!