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I Choose to Live - Sabine Dardenne
Member Name: thingywhatsit
I Choose to Live - Sabine Dardenne
Advantages: A true story of abduction that can be used in educating children of danger
Disadvantages: The translated version is not as sympathetic as it could be
I have been reading rather a lot of books on the misfortunes of others and asked myself what merit there was to reading accounts of child abuse, such as are demonstrated in this book, written by a young girl that was abducted by one of Europe's most notorious pedophiles in 1996 at the age of 12, and kept in captivity for three months of her life.
The answer I came up with was that by reading books of this nature, what we give ourselves is an insight into what is happening in the world around us, and to help us keep an open mind and learn ways in which to recognize those things which could potentially harm children in our own environments.
Sabine Dardenne wrote this book originally in French. I have read both versions, and each have their merits and lessons in morality, though I have to say that the original book written by Sabine in her own language had more impact. She is not a professional writer, and writing the book was part of the healing process she found that she had to go through in order to continue with her life. It's not a comfortable read, parts of it make you wonder if she would have produced a better book had she employed an author, though what it does give you in either language is an account of the experience that she underwent, after being plucked from her bike on the way to school in the small Belgium town where she lived.
It could have been any child with a set routine. It wasn't. It was Sabine and through reading the story of her abduction, the treatment that she was made to endure, you can tell that although the book may have started the healing process, she still has a long way to go, and that the road that lies ahead of her was helped by the production of her account of what happened. Almost childlike in places, the book isn't as arduous as others that I have read in the same ilk. Of course the anger still throws itself from the page to the reader, although she has a right to be angry, having had her childhood taken away from her.
To tell you the story would spoil the read. It is a book though that I feel could help teen-aged children to be more vigilant, in that although her treatment by her captor was of a sexual nature, Sabine chose to keep her story suitable for readers of any age, though what makes me think that the trauma the child endured will take a long time to get over lies in what is missing from the text, and the parts of the story Sabine found too painful to tell, and that she relates only by showing letters that she wrote to her parents during her captivity, rather than refreshing them by the written word.
The English version I feel lacks in the translation, as certainly the original version gave more of the atmospheric description than the translation into English. It is always difficult to translate feelings and emotions, and here I feel that the translator dealt rather insensitively with the translation of what is a very raw, amateur and dramatic story.
It certainly is worth buying, certainly worthy of reading and sharing with children. Her tale shows hope because it is her way forward to a new life, one of acceptance of the things that have happened to her and her apt title of 'I Choose to Live' takes you into the realms of hope for victims of mistreatment and abuse.
Marc Dutroux is in prison. Sabine Dardenne decided that instead of living in the prison of remembrance of past evil, her only road forward was to write this book, and close a chapter of her life that will no doubt leave her scarred psychologically for a very long time to come. At less than six pounds, the book is a very worthwhile one to read.
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Virago Press Ltd; New Ed edition (16 Jan 2006)
Summary: A book that shows a young lady attempting to move forward after abuse.