A Stolen Life

A Stolen Life

by Jaycee Dugard

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Overview

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard

An instant #1 New York Times bestseller—Jaycee Dugard’s raw and powerful memoir, her own story of being kidnapped in 1991 and held captive for more than eighteen years.

In the summer of June of 1991, I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother that loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.

For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse. For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.

On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim, I simply survived an intolerable situation. A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451629194
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 07/03/2012
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 27,923
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jaycee Dugard is the author of the memoir A Stolen Life, which tells the story of her kidnapping and eighteen years of captivity. Her second book is Freedom: My Book of Firsts.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for A Stolen Life includes an introduction and discussion. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
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Introduction

“Ask yourself, ‘What would you do to survive?’” When Jaycee Dugard was eleven years old, she was abducted from a school bus stop within sight of her home in South Lake Tahoe, California. For more than eighteen years, Dugard was held captive by Phillip Garrido and his wife, Nancy. Dugard depended on the Garridos for everything, but she never lost hope of being reunited with her family. After she became a mom herself, Dugard knew she could never leave her daughters behind, even if that meant a lifetime in captivity.

On August 26, 2009, Phillip Garrido showed up for a meeting with his parole officer; he brought Dugard, her two daughters, and Nancy with him. After eighteen years without saying her own name, Dugard revealed her identity to the authorities. An investigation led to the complex of shacks and tents in the Garridos’ backyard where Dugard had been kept for nearly two decades.

In her own plainspoken words, Dugard shares a chronological account from the time of her abduction in 1991 to her rescue in 2009 and opens up about what she experienced—offering an extraordinary account of courage and resilience.


Topics & Questions for Discussion

  1. “This book might be confusing to some,” is the first sentence Jaycee Dugard writes in her Author’s Note. How does Dugard’s style of writing convey the confusion of her kidnapping and captivity?
  2. “When I was first found I was adamant that there would be no book, no one would ever know what happened.” (p. 49) Why do you think Jaycee changed her mind about sharing her story? What are her reasons for writing this book?
  3. Jaycee Dugard wrote A Stolen Life entirely in her own words. Why did you think she decided to write the book herself without the assistance of another writer?
  4. Consider the Reflection sections of the memoir, in which Dugard comments on scenes from her past. What do these reflections add to the story?
  5. Jaycee writes that after the birth of her second daughter, “I am in another kind of prison now. Free to roam the backyard but still a prisoner nonetheless. I feel I am bound to these people—my captors—by invisible bonds instead of constant handcuffs.” (p. 130) How did Phillip Garrido succeed in creating these “invisible bonds” that kept Jaycee captive? How did he manipulate her trust and her beliefs about the outside world?
  6. Consider Jaycee’s close relationship with animals before, during, and after her captivity. What comfort does she find in the company of pets? How did therapy sessions with horses help Jaycee and her family heal after they were reunited?
  7. In remembering the first days of being abducted, Jaycee writes, “It was easy for me in those early days to escape into my dreamworld because I had always been a dreamer and had my head in the clouds a lot. I used to lose all track of time and it helped to keep me from going crazy.” (p. 33) Discuss the power of imagination and how Jaycee learned to mentally escape her situation. How did reading and writing eventually prove to be an outlet for Jaycee?
  8. Discuss Nancy Garrido. What seems to motivate Nancy? Were you angered by Nancy’s participation in the crime and the fact that she did not help Jaycee escape? Why or why not?
  9. Two sections of A Stolen Life feature Jaycee’s journal entries: “Eclipse’s jounal” (sic) from 1993 and secret diary entries from 1998 to 2007. What do these journals reveal about Jaycee’s state of mind? Are there any passages that especially stood out to you? How did reading the scanned pages of “Eclipse’s jounal” (sic) and seeing Jaycee’s own handwriting affect you as a reader?
  10. Jaycee recalls that when she wrote her name at the police station after eighteen years without saying it, “It was like breaking an evil spell.” (p. 209) Why couldn’t she say her name out loud and how did writing it down, in a sense, release her from the Garridos’ hold? In the same vein, consider Jaycee’s confrontation with Nancy. How does Jaycee take control by correcting Nancy when she repeatedly calls her “Alissa”?
  11. Discuss how the moon connected Jaycee to her mother during their eighteen years of separation. What did the moon symbolize to them?
  12. Discuss Jaycee's journal entries where she lists her “Dreams for the Future” (p. 189) and the “Places I will go one day.” (p. 196) What were your reactions to these lists?
  13. On page 133, Jaycee discusses how she knows that law enforcement officers will now protect her from the Garridos, but that “on the other hand, the government failed me for eighteen years. And that will take time to heal from.” (p. 133) In what ways did the legal system fail Jaycee?
  14. Jaycee writes about Phillip Garrido, “I’m not sure if I have the right to forgive him. I will probably struggle with that question for the rest of my life.” (p. 144) Why does she refuse to hate Phillip? Did you experience emotions of hatred or forgiveness while you were reading the memoir? Explain.
  15. Why does the cover of A Stolen Life feature a small pinecone? What does the pinecone symbolize to Jaycee?
  16. Discuss the title A Stolen Life. What did Phillip Garrido steal from Jaycee? What is she able to get back, and what aspects of her life have been lost forever?
  17. Review the photographs printed in A Stolen Life. Which photo of Jaycee Dugard is most memorable to you, and why?
  18. Discuss what you knew and how you felt about Jaycee Dugard’s kidnapping prior to reading A Stolen Life. How did you first learn of this story? What distinguishes reading A Stolen Life from the various and ongoing media coverage of Jaycee’s story? How did reading Jaycee’s own account change your perspective?
  19. So many scenes of A Stolen Life are unforgettable. Which scene did you find most shocking? Which moment was the most inspiring?
  20. At the end of her memoir Jaycee introduces the J A Y C (Just Ask Yourself…to Care!) Foundation—an organization Jaycee started that provides support and services to families recovering from abduction and the aftermath of other traumatic experiences. What does she hope to accomplish with the foundation? How does this organization relate to the dreams and aspirations Jaycee had while she was in captivity? For more information, please visit thejaycfoundation.org.
  21. Jaycee narrated the audio edition of A Stolen LIfe herself. For those of you who listened to this audio edition of the book – how did hearing the book read aloud add to the overall experience?

Customer Reviews

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A Stolen Life: A Memoir 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3592 reviews.
Heather Seychelle More than 1 year ago
Be prepared that this is sad and graphic. Traumatic to read but soo addicting. Couldnt put it down!
DottiePatches More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one day. I couldn't put it down. I was surprised how much detail (in the beginning of the book) that Jaycee gave about what happened to her but I am glad she did. People need to know what kind of things men like Phillip Garido are capable of. My mind had never even thought up those kind of evils. Prison is not a harsh enough punishment for this man. Or his wife for that matter. How dare she not do something!!!! EGH! My hear aches as I read this book. Jaycee and I are 2 years apart and all I could think was how alike we were as kids. How if we lived by each other as kids we would have been best friends. I am amazed at how strong she is. I am SO angry for her! She chooses not to waste her time on anger. That the Garidos have stolen enough and she will give them no more. I wish I had her outlook on life. Her book shows that no mate her bleak your situation there is always something to be thankful for. A pet, a beautiful day, freedom. She is amazing and so is her real family. Bless her moms heart! Jaycee's story gives hope in a book that I wasn't looking for it. Truly Amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my worst fears since become a mother has been the fear of having some monster take my children away from me. I wasn't sure how or if I could read this book. I read it in a day and a half! She admits in the beginning that she is not a professional writer and that the story is in her words so it may be confusing at times for someone else reading it but it is how she remembers everything. There were a few times I was slightly confused and felt she repeated things many times. For me, this made the book more real. I knew it was HER story. It made my stomach turn to read about (graphically) the things he did to her and made her do! The part about her being reunited with her mother for some reason just really got to me. I was bawling! This is a "read with a tissue box at hand" book! Jaycee is an UNBELIEVABLE woman and survivor of some unspeakable things! It amazes me how she went through all of that for 18 YEARS and just seems so "normal". She seems like a person I would want to know. Not because she is "famous" for what happened to her but because she is such a real person. A beautiful person. A strong person. A wonderful mother. Many times reading this book I had thoughts about the things that I "struggle" with and said to myself, "If Jaycee can be so strong through all of that then I can certainly deal with the things in my life that aren't anywhere near as harrowing." Buy the book! She is a true inspiration! Jaycee Dugard, I hope you have a life with nothing but the best of the best and happiness overflowing! Wish I could give you a great big hug. Thank you for sharing your difficult story with us.
Sandra Moreria More than 1 year ago
1st review i have ever posted. This is a story told by a survior of unspeakable acts of abuse. She makes it very clear that this is her account of the past 18 yrs. She explains in detail using journal entries from her imprisonment, that she wanted to be free and hated what he did to her. She was 11 years old when she was abducted and until her release was functioning with the mind of an 11 year old child. Her abductor did everything he could to control her physically and mentally. She wasnt allowed the simple freedom to choice when she could eat or sleep or use a toilet. She was denied safe human contact for years. He scared her to death and threatened her with "it could be worse". This is an account of the most horrible way for an 11 year old girl to live. This story needs to be told, people like her abductors need to be exposed. And laws need to change. No child, no woman, no person should have to endure being abused. Thank you for sharing your story. Good luck in the future. Enjoy the eqine world. May the media leave you alone. Shame on the legal system that failed you and your family, may they learn from their mistakes. Shame on your selffish, cowardly abductors, hell is too nice of a place for them.
sneps More than 1 year ago
This is Jaycee's story, in her words, as she recounts the moments leading up to her abduction and the 18 years she was held captive. Her story is raw with intimate details about the sexual and psychological abuse she endured by the two people who kidnapped her. I won't say who they are because they don't deserve any recognition for the pain and suffering Jaycee experienced. In her memoir, Jaycee includes journal entries she kept regarding her cat, Eclipse, and her own personal entries about her dreams, her goals, and her longing to see her mother again. Jaycee Dugard has slowly worked on rebuilding her life and transitioning into society with her daughters. While she wants to keep her children's names and pictures out of the public life, she does write about her pregnancies with them and her relationship with them as mom and later as sister (which her captors wanted her to be regarded as). Her story was very difficult to read as she describes her first days being handcuffed and sequestered to a small room with locks. When she was found, she had been living in a tent and using a hole she made to pee. With a 5th grade education, she homeschooled her daughters, who are her saving grace. Despite the fact that her captor is their father, she loves them without any boundaries. She loves them freely and has the same dreams for them that she has for herself: to be free. Jaycee's strength and hope shines through despite everything she has experienced. I highly recommend this book and encourage you to also visit The JAYC Foundation, Inc. or on Facebook. In her memoir, she describes the significance to pine cones and monies received for her jewelry goes to her foundation to help children and families impacted by abduction.
Celeste Martinez More than 1 year ago
I will never sweat the small stuff again. Could not put it down. Cant wait to see what her next book will be like. Im inspired by herstrength...her mommas too.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jaycee writes beautifully. This is truly a sad book. I don't know what else to say but what a strong and courageous woman she has become. I was sexually abused when I was little & while I remember it happened I can't remember any details which is good & bad. I think if I could remember something it might help me heal more. I hope this book helped her heal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an incredible woman to endure the abuse for 18 years, and then write so eloquently about her ordeal. I couldn't put the book down!!!
Brianne Smith More than 1 year ago
Jaycee is an amazing woman. While I definitely cried, this book is very uplifting. Jaycee shares her horrific story, but shares with it the ultimate belief in hope and humanity.
Tara Knitter More than 1 year ago
Jaycee you are a hero! Hope all your dreams come ture. Thanks for sharing your story.
Kgates71 More than 1 year ago
Look at the world around you and what do you see; a ton of children running around with the freedom of there choice but for one 11 year old all that was taken from her. This story is a captivating read about both her fear, and her happiness of her abduction and what her life has now become. Jaycee Lee Dugard was taken from her family June 1991 by Phillip and Nancy Garrido. Now being home she writes an incredible story about how she isn't afraid to tell there "secret" about being locked in a shed, raped, starved, having two children who were raised as her "sisters" alone for 18 years but was never forgotten.. Torn from the family she always knew, but couldn't remember. Jaycee writes about hate and fear a lot, she explains how living with hate in her heart or head forever would ruin the time she has now. She writes of all this before she goes onto explain a horrible time of her abuse. "To hate wastes too much time. People who hate waste so much of their life hating that they miss out on all the other stuff out here.... If all my heart were filled up with hate and regrets and what-ifs, then what else would it have room for?" She does not hate the monster that did this to her she explains that it is his shame not hers. Some dislikes were that there are a lot of run on paragraphs, writing wasn’t as polished as some other reads. What can you say she was taken for 18 years. Another is how the readers looked down on her for never standing up for herself, when she made the choices to save her and her daughters. It had a lot of detail about how she was abused, but not how she technically felt or thought. Some likes were that she is living today, and happy. She kept hope and stayed strong through everything. She grew the strength to get the help she needed even if it was the toughest decision of her life. Shows young readers its okay to share your story, to get stronger from the hard things that have happened in life. Talk about your problems and situations that you feel you need to keep hidden from the world. Everyone should read this book, it is a truly captivating read. You will find yourself having a hard time putting it down. Though there are sections of the story you will find wanting to put the book down, to cry or trying to understand why a monster would do this. A lot of people want to read and hear of stories that are based upon true events, and this is a story of a girl who explains her story as she remembers.
Maria Dzihan More than 1 year ago
I feel that this book gave out just enough information on what went on in Jaycee's life. I mean she was raped multiple times. How sick of a person are you to want to know more details. As it was i had to put the book down on more than one occaion because I couldn't emagin the things she went through. In MY opinoin Jaycee is a very brave and smart girl she did whatever it took to survive. I loved this book.
Kszabs More than 1 year ago
A stolen life is a story only for the more mature mind. I would not suggest anyone under the age of 15 reads this book. Jaycee Dugard at age 11 is abducted from her own home town while on her average walk to school. She is taken miles away to a completely other state where she forced to make some life changes. She becomes pregnant at age 14 and end up having two daughters. I was not born to hear the first news of Jaycee being abducted, but I learned about her on a 20/20 interview. I’ve always been intrigued by those kinds of stories on 20/20 but Jaycee’s interview really stuck out to me this time. In the interview they mention that she had written a memoir of her times in captivity and I wanted to read it because I knew that TV was keeping us from know the actually truth, and who better to get the truth from the victim herself. Instantly the book starts out gruesome and heart wrenching, but for some odd reason I found it almost impossible to put down. There’s times in the book when she would talk about the sexual times with her kidnapper and that part of the book did make me feel a little uncomfortable, but I kept reading because I couldn’t even believe that there really is someone out there evil enough to do such a thing to an innocent girl. I wouldn’t suggest this to anyone who wants to read a happy book, although it does have a happy ending. After reading this book I reflected back on the interview I first saw of her, and remembered what happy soul she had and how accepting she was of her situation. 18 years of her life was taken away from her and she was optimistic and look at the bright side of everything. I think if I ever was put in a situation like that I would not be able to optimistic and the fact that she was, helped influence me to have a better outlook on life; to not take things for granted, look for the good in everybody, and don’t worry about the small things. It’s good to know that Jaycee is home safe with her family now and is getting all the love she needed back then, but it breaks my heart that she even had to experience such a thing like that.
jullie smith More than 1 year ago
OMG If Jaycee can come out of this without hate and still find more reasons to smile and laugh and love, then all things ARE possible for the rest of us. This woman, stolen, raped, raised by her tormentor is an inspiration for us all to look deeper to find our own peace. Her situation was 1000 times worse than most of us find ourselves in and yet she survived and did not shatter. God bless you Jaycee! And thank you for sharing your incredible journey through hell and back. Thank you for your wisdom cruely earned that others may find hope with whatever situation their lives are enduring.
CherieLakin More than 1 year ago
This book hit home for me. I was the aroud the same age when Jaycee was taken from her family, and only lived about and hour away. I spent so much time in Tahoe and had friends that lived there. I never forgot about Jaycee. When she was found I was so happy! I went to Tahoe this weekend and decided this was the right place and time to read Jacyee's book. I read it in less then a day. What an AMAZING woman Jacyee is! With all she went thourgh she still holds her head high. People who have gone through less can't say that about them selves. So glad your home Jaycee!!!! Much love to you and your family!!!!!
xoreadxo More than 1 year ago
I read this book in two days because I couldn't put it down. It is heartwrenching. Jaycee did a good job writing the story and I'm glad that someone else didn't write it for her. You can feel her emotions. Jaycee has amazing strength and did exactly what she needed to do to survive. It makes my heart so sad that she had to endure the unthinkable. God Bless you, Jaycee. You've already proved that you are a survivor.
gina1369 More than 1 year ago
The first few chapters are hard to get through but then she tells the rest of her very odd yet compelling story. She was a very strong little girl and mother dispite what happened.
ebaby More than 1 year ago
I just bought this book today, after watching her interview on Sunday. I first want to start out by saying, that anyone who reads this book is going to come out looking at life a little different. The coursge, stength and will it took this girl to surive 18 years of what she did is amazing. From the minute I started reading the book I couldn't put it down. Jaycee Dugard is an azming woman, we should all take a little piece of her strength and courage from this book.
TabbyDeAnne More than 1 year ago
Having come from an abusive childhood and surviving with lots of smiles and laughter, I can relate. I can completely understand how she can be so strong and beautiful inside and out. How she can choose not to give her abusers anymore of her than they have already taken. I am proud of her for writing this book. For getting out all of her memories and not being ashamed. I ofter wonder if that is something I could do. I may try now because of Jacee. She is what we all can become. We can all learn so much from her courage and her inner light. This is a very good book because it is real. Thank you Jacee for your strength.
Kathryn Shedeck More than 1 year ago
Sick to my stomach from reading the attrocities she suffered with thise bastards...brave woman and mother to share her struggles
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Stolen Life is a compelling memoir written by Jaycee Dugard, it tells an emotional story about her life as a victim of kidnapping, sexual abuse and many more life-changing experiences. At age eleven, Jaycee Dugard was stolen from the bus stop in her hometown of Lake Tahoe, California. Phillip Craig and his wife, Nancy Garrido, held Jaycee captive for eighteen years. She not only went through immense physical abuse but also gave birth to two baby girls. By the time she was discovered, she had forgotten who she was as a child and had been convinced she was worth nothing. Phillip Craig had not only stolen Jaycee’s childhood, but also stole her innocence. To help through the process of recovery, Jaycee Dugard wrote this amazing novel touching many hearts around the world. In the pages of A Stolen Life, there are messages and themes explaining the importance of a healthy childhood and innocence. Jaycee was not able to live a “normal” childhood and she reflects on the importance of being young and free. I personally loved this story because it was about something real and happening everyday all around the world. The book was one I could not set down because of the way Jaycee’s voice poured out of the pages. Real emotion was put into this book and made it so I was more aware of my everyday actions. Not only to live life to it’s fullest but to not take advantage of what is given to me. A lot of the book was extremely hard to read because of Jaycee’s personal experiences with sexual abuse. Although there were some disturbing stories, I highly recommend reading A Stolen Life. This story will touch anyone who reads it and will also bring light to a problem that is happening around the world today. A Stolen Life has many similarities with another novel, Room by Emma Donoghue. Both stories captivating an audience interested to hear about stories of abduction. I will be forever touched by her story.
shadira78 More than 1 year ago
Wow.. where to begin... This is definitely a very riveting read. It's very short, and the only time you'll want to put it down is when you need to take a minute to have an emotional breather. Like many others, I saw the interview with Diane Sawyer, and Jaycee's attitude about everything that's happened to her is unbelievable. She seems so warm and friendly, she's optimistic about the future, she isn't letting the horrific events of her past bring her down. And you can feel that attitude throughout the book. It definitely isn't professionally written, but she knows that and tells you not to expect that. But if you saw the interview, and loved her amazing attitude and outlook on life, definitely read this. My 3 star rating is not a rating for Jaycee or her life or the terrible things that happened to her. It is a rating for the book. It is a riveting read, but you will speed through some parts and crawl through others. Many things are repetitive, some parts skip over things too much, and some parts are too slow. It is very much written in HER voice, though, so that does make many of these things pretty forgivable
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book at first to support Jaycee. I started reading her story and was drawn into her world. As a victim of sexual abuse I knew every emotion she was feeling, every hurt, every anger. She made me hurt for her and cheer for her. I also wished that someone had stood up for her as I wish they had done for me! No one ever should have to go through the pain and suffering and fear she did. Way to go Jaycee for surviving to tell your story and bravo for the person you are now "growing up" to be!
Pauline Phillips More than 1 year ago
Emotionally heartbreaking. Jaycee, you are one spectacular woman !! Thanks for sharing your story. May god bless you and your with a long happy life.
akrm More than 1 year ago
I downloaded this yesterday and finished it in less than a day. The book is not graphic but does get across much of the lonliness and horror that Jaycee went through during her years of captivity. What comes through is her innocence and strength. The book has a lightness to it. Even when you feel like crying you feel her positivity and strength. Before reading this and watching her interview I thougth she must be a very special person. Reading this book confirmed that for me. I wish her, her daughters, mom and family the peace and happiness they deserve.