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Jaycee Dugard’s memoir: Chilling details and a lonely existence

Photo: From the cover of "A Stolen Life," Jaycee Lee Dugard's memoir of 18 years in captivity, which landed on electronic bookshelves Tuesday. Credit: Courtesy of the Dugard family As much as Jaycee Lee Dugard's memoir, "A Stolen Life," is a chronicle of rape and terror, filled with graphic detail and unimaginable pain, it is also a meditation on loneliness.

The book chronicles her 18 years in captivity and landed on electronic bookshelves shortly after midnight Tuesday.

Dugard writes about missing her mother, about fearing she might forget that beloved face. She describes her growing dependence on her kidnapper, Phillip Garrido, her need for his company, any company. He was her captor, but also for long stretches, he was the only other human being she saw.

EVIDENCE: D.A. releases video and documents in Dugard case

"When he is not hurting me," she writes, "he likes to make me laugh."

Garrido took methamphetamine to prolong his ability to rape Dugard. He tied her up, he played out his fantasies. She was a little girl in pain -- and near-solitary confinement.

"It is Christmas Day," she writes of the holiday in 1993. "I am alone. I am mostly always alone. No one to talk to. No one to hug me unless Phillip comes in. He gives me hugs sometimes and makes me feel loved."

But perhaps the most chilling sentence in Dugard's book -- which alternates between detailed memories of captivity and "reflections" on the experience -- is this: "With time I grew used to all kinds of things."

On the book's cover is a photograph of a smiling, toothy little 11-year-old, tongue out, blond hair tumbling down her shoulders -- Jaycee, free, before she was kidnapped by Garrido and his wife and held as a sex slave in a ramshackle compound in their Antioch, Calif., backyard.

There's also a pine cone -- the last thing Dugard remembers touching before she was dragged into the Garridos' car as she headed to the school bus in 1991. She calls it "a symbol that represents the seed of a new beginning for me."

Earlier this year, the Garridos pleaded guilty to multiple charges of kidnapping and rape; they are in state prison serving sentences that will likely keep them behind bars for the rest of their lives.

Dugard, who gave birth to Garrido's two daughters while in captivity, is working to adjust to her new life. Her memoir, released officially Tuesday, is dedicated to her girls -- "For the times we've cried together, laughed together and all the times in between."

After she was kidnapped at age 11, Dugard never set foot in a classroom again. Now 31, she acknowledges that her memoir "might be confusing to some."

"A Stolen Life" was published less than two years after Dugard and her daughters were rescued. In an author's note at the volume's outset, Dugard says the book is her "attempt to convey the overwhelming confusion" she felt during her years with the Garridos and "to begin to unravel the damage that was done to me and my family."


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-- Maria La Ganga

Photo: From the cover of "A Stolen Life," Jaycee Lee Dugard's memoir of 18 years in captivity, which landed on electronic bookshelves Tuesday. Credit: Courtesy of the Dugard family

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