Hope. It was the one thing that got Cleveland kidnapping victims, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, through the years of torture when they were held captive by a disgusting excuse for a man, Ariel Castro. I was familiar with the situation the women bravely recounted because I previously read Michelle Knight’s autobiography, Finding Me. I am always astonished by how strong people are, and how that strength helps them emerge from a horrific experience as a hopeful human being. Amanda and Gina are two women to join that group of survivors.
The book was divided pretty evenly between Amanda and Gina’s narratives. Amanda kept a journal while imprisoned, and those were used as the structure to tell her story. Their voices emitted the fear and despair they felt, telling a heart wrenching story of sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse. The simple wording revealed how their lives had virtually stopped while both women were young teens even though they emerged from the house of horrors as women in their early twenties. It was so hard to read how close in proximity the girls were to their families’ homes, and even harder to learn how Castro interacted with their families to flaunt his behavior. His mind games divided the women by making them distrust each other, no doubt in order to prevent them from banding together against him.
I think it is so amazing that these women survived such horrific events, and it is that determination that made this an inspirational read. I commend them for having the courage to tell their story and reclaim their lives. I wish them nothing but the best.