Not all memoirs are the same. Some will make you laugh. Some will make you cry. However, only a select few will truly chill you to the bone. These memoirs deal with tough subject matters, and they are not for the faint of heart. The books below recount nightmarish experiences, made even more heartbreaking because they are based in fact, so be warned. These memoirs won’t just make you cry. They will make you question the very world we live in.
Read the firsthand accounts from these brave women as they share their tragedies… and eventual triumphs.
Two women kidnapped by infamous Cleveland school-bus driver Ariel Castro share the stories of their abductions, captivity, and dramatic escape
On May 6, 2013, Amanda Berry made headlines around the world when she fled a Cleveland home and called 911, saying: “Help me, I’m Amanda Berry. . . . I’ve been kidnapped, and I’ve been missing for ten years.”
A horrifying story rapidly unfolded. Ariel Castro, a local school bus driver, had separately lured Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight to his home, where he kept them chained. In the decade that followed, the three were raped, psychologically abused, and threatened with death. Berry had a daughter—Jocelyn—by their captor.
Drawing upon their recollections and the diary kept by Amanda Berry, Berry and Gina DeJesus describe a tale of unimaginable torment, and Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post reporters Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan interweave the events within Castro’s house with original reporting on efforts to find the missing girls. The full story behind the headlines—including details never previously released on Castro’s life and motivations—Hope is a harrowing yet inspiring chronicle of two women whose courage, ingenuity, and resourcefulness ultimately delivered them back to their lives and families.
Michelle was a young single mother when she was kidnapped by a local school bus driver named Ariel Castro. For more than a decade afterward, she endured unimaginable torture at the hand of her abductor. In 2003 Amanda Berry joined her in captivity, followed by Gina DeJesus in 2004. Their escape on May 6, 2013, made headlines around the world.
Barely out of her own tumultuous childhood, Michelle was estranged from her family and fighting for custody of her young son when she disappeared. Local police believed she had run away, so they removed her from the missing persons lists fifteen months after she vanished. Castro tormented her with these facts, reminding her that no one was looking for her, that the outside world had forgotten her. But Michelle would not be broken.
In Finding Me, Michelle will reveal the heartbreaking details of her story, including the thoughts and prayers that helped her find courage to endure her unimaginable circumstances and now build a life worth living. By sharing both her past and her efforts to create a future, Michelle becomes a voice for the voiceless and a powerful symbol of hope for the thousands of children and young adults who go missing every year.
In the fall of 2007, twenty-year old college coed Amanda Knox left Seattle to study abroad in Perugia, Italy for one year. But that November 1, her life was shattered when her roommate, British student Meredith Kercher, was murdered in their apartment. Five days later, Amanda was taken into custody and charged by the Italian police; her arrest and the subsequent investigation ignited an international media firestorm. Overnight, this ordinary young American student became the subject of intense scrutiny, forced to endure a barrage of innuendo and speculation. Two years later, after an extremely controversial trial, Amanda was convicted and imprisoned. But in 2011 an appeals court overturned her conviction and vacated the charges. Free at last, she immediately returned home to the U.S., where she has remained silent, until now.
In the summer of 1991 I was a normal kid. I did normal things. I had friends and a mother who loved me. I was just like you. Until the day my life was stolen.
For eighteen years I was a prisoner. I was an object for someone to use and abuse.
For eighteen years I was not allowed to speak my own name. I became a mother and was forced to be a sister. For eighteen years I survived an impossible situation.
On August 26, 2009, I took my name back. My name is Jaycee Lee Dugard. I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.
A Stolen Life is my story—in my own words, in my own way, exactly as I remember it.
On June 5, 2002, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart, the daughter of a close-knit Mormon family, was taken from her home in the middle of the night by religious fanatic, Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee. She was kept chained, dressed in disguise, repeatedly raped, and told she and her family would be killed if she tried to escape. After her rescue on March 12, 2003, she rejoined her family and worked to pick up the pieces of her life.
Now for the first time, in her memoir, MY STORY, she tells of the constant fear she endured every hour, her courageous determination to maintain hope, and how she devised a plan to manipulate her captors and convinced them to return to Utah, where she was rescued minutes after arriving. Smart explains how her faith helped her stay sane in the midst of a nightmare and how she found the strength to confront her captors at their trial and see that justice was served.
In the nine years after her rescue, Smart transformed from victim to advocate, traveling the country and working to educate, inspire and foster change. She has created a foundation to help prevent crimes against children and is a frequent public speaker. In 2012, she married Matthew Gilmour, whom she met doing mission work in Paris for her church, in a fairy tale wedding that made the cover of People magazine.
‘Tom,’ I said, bracing myself for the threat that was sure to follow. ‘I need to talk to you about something. About leaving here, I mean.’ He didn’t hit me. Didn’t threaten. Instead, he looked at me with great sadness. ‘Who saved your life?’ ‘You,’ I replied, ‘but…’ ‘Who takes care of you?’ ‘I know that,’ I told him. ‘I just can’t live like this.’ ‘You can’t live? What about me? You would destroy my life if you left. I am the only person to ever show you love, and you would leave me? Don’t be stupid.’ Told from the perspective of Tanya Nicole Kach, Memoir of a Milk Carton Kid is the haunting story of a girl, lost in the cracks of the system, forced to spend more than ten years as the prisoner of her school’s security guard. From her troubled childhood, through her captivity at the hands of a manipulative captor, and ultimately on her road to recovery, Tanya’s story is one of pain but ultimately triumph. Her story is told by her advocate and confidant, Lawrence Fisher. For more than five years his impassioned advocacy has helped Tanya as she has reintegrated into society. He successfully blends Tanya’s story with his own insight into the legal issues surrounding the controversial case that followed Tanya’s release. This multipronged approach gives the reader insight into Tanya’s emotional state and the state of a criminal justice system that allowed her ordeal to happen.