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

6 years ago
Former hostage thankful to RCMP for arresting Ali Omar Ader, accused of being one of her kidnappers 3:55
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. 7:29

More about this book

Canadian freed from captivity

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