Stolen Life (Dugard) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
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Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for A Stolen Life:

1. Why did Jaycee write her book? In the "Author's Note," she says...

[T]his book is my attempt to convey the overwhelming confusion I felt during those years and to begin to unravel the damage that was done to me and my family.

Do you think this memoir will help her? If so, in what way? For what other reasons might she have written A Stolen Life?

2. What effect do you think her book will have on the reading public—beneficial, prurient, neutral? What effect has it had on you? Why have you chosen to read Jaycee's memoir? Should younger girls read this memoir as a cautionary story...or should it be read by adults only?

3. Jaycee says of her confinement that "with time I grew used to all kinds of things." How would it be possible to grow used to such a horrific ordeal? Do you see her attitude as an acceptance, a shutting down, a giving up...or something else?

4. Talk about the birth of Jaycee's first daughter, the manner in which she gave birth, and how it changed her.

5. Parts of Jaycee's memoir contain graphic descriptions of her abuse at the hands of her captor. Why might she have included such frank passages? Are those descriptions a necessary part of her memoir? If so, why? If not, why not? Consider the words "rape," "molestation," and "abuse" and how frequently the are used in public discourse. As a society, do we understand those words? Does Jaycee's book help us gain a greater insight into the brutality behind those words?

6. Talk about Garrido. What is his sickness? Would you even describe it a sickness? Why did psychotherapy prove ineffective for him? Consider, also what angels mean to him.

7. In what way does Jaycee's relationship with Garrido change over the course of her 18-year captivity?

8. What is Jaycee's attitude toward her numerous pets? Do you find her concerns for their welfare ironic?

9. Do you find Jaycee an inspirational figure? Why or why not?

10. Jaycee was not allowed to use her real neame but forced to use the name, Allisa, given to her by Garrido. Why did he demand she put aside her true name? What is the significance of one's name?

11. How does our society, with all its law enforcement power and child abuse protections, allow someone like Garrido to continue operating? What do you make of the fact that police had visited Garrido's house 60 times during her captivity? What needs to be done?

12. Have you read Emma Donoghue's Room? If so, how do the two books compare?

13. What struck you most while reading Jaycee's account—what did you find most disturbing...surprising...or impressive? Also, what have you come away with after having read the book? Have you been changed in any way by this book?

14. Perhaps the most interesting question of all—how would YOU have survived Jaycee's ordeal? Or how would you have survived as her parent?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use it, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)h

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