A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard (This is the true story that the book ROOM was modeled after)


In June of 1991, Jaycee Dugard was like any other 11-year-old.  She went to school, she had friends, and rode her bike.  She lived in California and had a one year old baby sister. 

Then just like that, she was stolen.

A van pulled up, a pretense of asking for directions and she was gone.

For the next eighteen years of her life, Jaycee was held captive by Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy.  She was kept in a locked and hidden shed in their back yard.  During her first six years of captivity Jaycee gave birth to two of Phillips children.  By the age of seventeen she was a mother twice over all the while painfully missing her own mom and wondering if she would ever find her way home again. 

In August of 2009, Jaycee and her daughters were discovered and rescued. 

In her own words, this is her story.


Jaycee (center) with her kidnappers: Nancy and Phillip



Where Jaycee was held captive for 18 years even though Phillip was on probation as a convicted sex offender and his probation officers stopped by often.



When I first seen this book on the store shelf I was vaguely familiar with the story.  I brought it home and started reading it and be sure when I tell you this, the first 50 pages of this book are hard to read mainly because of the detailed telling of what happened to Jaycee at the age of 11.  I think it would have been easier to handle if the book would have been written by a third-party, but the fact that Jaycee wrote this book and relived the details of her early days of captivity gave it an even more impact of emotion on me. 

This is not to say it is not a worthwhile read.  What Jaycee endured all of those years is shocking, painful, insane, and yet you see this young girl hang on to hope and a dream of someday being free.

At first I was not sure I would like the writing, the beginning of the book felt a little cold and matter of fact when Jaycee described in great detail what happened those first few days and weeks.  I felt as though perhaps she had distanced herself from this painful period by writing as though she was writing about what happened to someone else.  Then, almost as quickly as I had that feeling, it went away and Jaycee’s story of eighteen years of dealing with two very disturbing people pulls you in page after page.  I found myself wanting to get back to the read whenever I could because I wanted to know what happened and how she would finally be discovered and rescued. 


“The more knowledge I gain, the more like an adult I feel. I never got this chance to become an adult.”

~Jaycee Dugard

I feel this is a very worthwhile read.  I have heard that this is actually the true story that inspired author Emma Donoghue to write ROOM.  Emma Donoghue also used pieces of the Elizabeth Fritzl case of the young girl who was held captive in the family basement by her father for 24 years where she bore seven of his children.

17 thoughts on “A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard (This is the true story that the book ROOM was modeled after)

  1. I hadn’t decided whether or not to read this one…but I am sure that I will at some point.

    I’m curious as to why the probation officers didn’t check the outbuildings…wouldn’t they wonder about hidden things, even if they didn’t suspect a person was there? I know from my years in social work that we always checked the various rooms, and other buildings would be a red flag.

    1. Apparently it was a hidden back yard, behind the see-able back yard. What is really disturbing is that after in the later years of her captivity she and/or the girls would be in the house during the probation visit and nothing was ever questioned.

    1. I admit that I almost put it down in the beginning, when she talked about what happened at the age of 11 I wasn’t sure I could keep reading. It does become an easier read as it goes on but still… WOW.

  2. This was one that I rushed to read because I live in California and remember when she was kidnapped and all of the news about it. I found the book difficult to read…so horrible what she went through but very inspirational how she’s come out of it and seems to have her head on straight.

  3. I just can’t even imagine. I had heard that ROOM was based on a true story but didn’t know which ones they were. The fact that she can revisit all this and write about it is truly amazing.

  4. Thanks for letting us know what you thought of this. I hope the book will help her and her children financially and that it helped her to tell the story, but I don’t think I’m going to read it. He must have thought he was safe after so many years to let the probation officers see her. What a terrible, terrible thing.

    1. I think you are correct Laurie, she was 29 when she was found – looked nothing like the 11 year old from all those years ago and had her scared to death to say anything. She even had a different name.

  5. Room was outstanding, one of the best books I have read because of how moving it was. I just received a copy of this book and really want to read it, because it just seems so interesting to hear the true story from someone who went through such a horrific event for so many years.

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