A House in the Sky – Amanda Lindhout shines light on a dark experience

Posted by Kobo Reads September  13, 2013

Amanda Lindhout, author of A House in the Sky grew up in a small city of Alberta, Canada with dreams of exploring the world.  And explore it she did, working any job she could find to afford her passion for travel.

With a desire to live a life of travel full time – exploring the wildest, most exotic regions the earth has to offer – Lindhout became a foreign correspondent, covering news for whatever media outlet wanted it.

Eventually, Lindhout thought she should bear witness to events in one of the most world’s most dangerous and volatile countries, Somalia.

"I understood that it was a hostile, dangerous place and few reporters dared go there,” she writes in, A House in the Sky. “The truth was, I was glad for the lack of competition. I figured I could make a short visit and report from the edges of disaster. I'd do stories that mattered, that moved people.”

But just four days into their Somali trip, she and the photographer she was travelling with were kidnapped and held hostage – for what ended up being more than a year. In the darkest moments of her experience, when she needed to summon the courage to even hope of eventual release, Lindhout imagined a house in the sky.

Kobo had the opportunity to ask Lindhout about her experience and her book. Here is what she told us:

A House in the Sky  is co-written with The New York Times’, Sara Corbett. How did her involvement influence the telling of your story?
Sara made this story richer in many ways. I honestly don’t think I could have told my story without her. We liked each other from the start. We built up a lot of trust and understanding between us, to the point where I was able to sit for many hours with her and share the most intimate and honest details of my life. She helped me write in a way that wasn’t defensive, that looked at all the steps that led to my going to Somalia, that incorporated humor and the joy I felt as a traveler, and to navigate some of the darker moments of my captivity with as much dignity as possible.

Having lost it for such a long and difficult time, what do you enjoy most about your freedom now?
The small things matter so much. I have such appreciation for the people I love, for kindness, and most of all I am appreciative of the sky. It’s so simple but so meaningful when you’ve lost it. I look up at the sky and feel grateful that I can see it.

After you were released, you created The Global Enrichment Foundation to help the people of Somalia. What inspired you to create it?
In the book, I tell the story of a Somali woman—a total stranger—who risked her life to show me kindness. I never knew her name, but her bravery gave me strength and hope when I needed it most. During the darkest days, I made a vow to myself that if I got out of Somalia, I’d find a way to do something to honor her, and to make a difference in her country. The Global Enrichment Foundation was born from this vow.

Among many other things, reading A House in the Sky is an act of learning. What do you hope readers will take away from your story? 
I hope readers will come away from the book with a sense of possibility, a feeling that the world is vast, complicated, and also beautiful. I think that as human beings, we are capable of overcoming so much more than we know, and my experience is a testament to that. There’s no simple lesson to be learned here, but my hope is that Sara and I have told the story with enough nuance and honestly that it provokes thought in our readers—about what it means to be free, about violence and extremism, and about the life-saving potency of hope.

Visit the Kobo store to read a free preview or purchase Lindhout’s heroic tale today! 

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