A House in the Sky

Journalist and author Amanda Lindhout's memoir of her early life, travels and the 460 days she was held hostage in Somalia.

Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett

As a child, Amanda Lindhout escaped a violent household by paging through issues of National Geographic and imagining herself visiting its exotic locales. At the age of 19, working as a cocktail waitress, she began saving her tips to travel the globe. Aspiring to understand the world and live a significant life, she backpacked through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh and India, and, emboldened by each adventure, went on to Sudan, Syria and Pakistan. In war-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq she carved out a fledgling career as a television reporter. And then, in August 2008, she traveled to Somalia — "the most dangerous place on earth." On her fourth day in the country, she was abducted by a group of masked men along a dusty road.

Held hostage for 460 days, Amanda survives on memory — every lush detail of the world she experienced in her life before captivity — and on strategy, fortitude and hope. When she is most desperate, she visits a house in the sky, high above the woman kept in chains, in the dark. (From Scribner)

Read an excerpt | Author interviews | More about this book

From the book

In my mind, I built stairways. At the end of the stairways, I imagined rooms. These were high, airy places with big windows and a cool breeze moving through. I imagined one room opening brightly onto another room until I'd built a house, a place with hallways and more staircases. I built many houses, one after another, and those gave rise to a city — a calm, sparkling city near the ocean, a place like Vancouver. I put myself there, and that's where I lived, in the wide-open sky of my mind. I made friends and read books and went running on a footpath in a jewel-green park along the harbour. I ate pancakes drizzled in syrup and took baths and watched sunlight pour through trees. This wasn't longing, and it wasn't insanity. It was relief. It got me through.

From A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett ©2013. Published by Scribner.

Author interviews

Amanda Lindhout wept at word of arrest

8 years ago
Duration 3:55
Former hostage thankful to RCMP for arresting Ali Omar Ader, accused of being one of her kidnappers
Journalist Amanda Lindhout spent 460 harrowing days in Somalia as the prisoner of kidnappers. Our Friday host is defiantly rebuilding her life with a non-profit organization to offer opportunity to people in the very place that was so brutal to her.

More about this book

Canadian freed from captivity

13 years ago
Duration 1:43
Journalist Amanda Lindhout released in Somalia after 15 months