Read Under an Afghan Sky: A Memoir of Captivity by Mellissa Fung Online


In October 2008, Mellissa Fung, a reporter for CBC’s The National, was leaving a refugee camp outside of Kabul when she was kidnapped by armed men. She was forced to hike for several hours through the mountains until they reached a village; there, the kidnappers pushed her towards a hole in the ground. “No,” she said. “I am not going down there.”For more than a month, FungIn October 2008, Mellissa Fung, a reporter for CBC’s The National, was leaving a refugee camp outside of Kabul when she was kidnapped by armed men. She was forced to hike for several hours through the mountains until they reached a village; there, the kidnappers pushed her towards a hole in the ground. “No,” she said. “I am not going down there.”For more than a month, Fung lived in that hole, which was barely tall enough to stand up in, nursing her injuries, praying and writing in a notebook. Under an Afghan Sky is the gripping tale of Fung’s days in captivity, surviving on cookies and juice, from the “grab” to her eventual release....

Title : Under an Afghan Sky: A Memoir of Captivity
Author :
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ISBN : 9781554686803
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Under an Afghan Sky: A Memoir of Captivity Reviews

  • Krista
    2019-01-26 06:43

    I was recently reading A House in the Sky, Amanda Lindhout's account of her fifteen month captivity at the hands of Somali kidnappers, and came across this passage early on:Melissa Fung, the CBC television correspondent who looked so purposeful and confident, couldn't know that sixteen months later, on a return trip to Afghanistan, she would get kidnapped outside of Kabul and spend twenty-eight days as a hostage, kept half-starved in an underground room in the mountains.I immediately felt deflated because I thought that I was reading about the Canadian journalist who had been held in a hole in the ground, so it was just by happenstance that I had picked up the wrong memoir. I went on to quite enjoy Lindhout's book, and although comparisons between the two might not be fair, I can't help but compare them now, and as a result, Under an Afghan Sky falls short. Of course, I'm not comparing the two women's actual experiences -- whether for one month or fifteen, being held against your will by armed young extremists must be a hopeless and terrifying experience, and both Lindhout and Fung held up much better than I suspect I would in their stead. The real comparison is in the reporting of their experiences, and my biggest complaint about Fung's book is that it came off as a bit dry and clinical, curiously lacking in heart, yet -- and here's where I get to look like a hypocrite -- I had initially been put off Lindhout's book because she collaborated with another writer, someone who added flair and drama that I initially felt built up a barrier between me and the plain truth. Under an Afghan Sky seems to demonstrate what happens when a straight-up journalist goes solo with her material: the story lacked in storytelling. I was teary throughout much of Lindhout's account, full out crying when she reunited with her family, but totally dry-eyed (though not completely unaffected by the details) throughout Fung's.Mellissa Fung was (until very recently) a CBC correspondent and so many of her attitudes displayed in Under an Afghan Sky demonstrate why I resent my tax dollars funding the public television station, or at least its news division anyway. Most annoying was her voicing the Canadian left's reflexive anti-Americanism in statements like: I thought that by trying to make Zahir see that there was a difference between Canada and the United States, I could make him realize his captive wasn't a sworn enemy of the Taliban the same way an American might be. I thought that after 9/11 we were "all American" and that Canada was actually leading the efforts in Afghanistan -- a maple leaf on her backpack wasn't going to get Fung out of this jam. Also: "I agree, I think George Bush is a very bad man," I said. This wasn't completely untrue, and I figured it was time we agreed on something. I understand trying to find common ground with her captor, and also appreciate that many people didn't find Bush too bright, but "a very bad man"? Later, Fung made this statement:It was Wednesday, November 5, and the night after the US presidential election. I wondered what had happened, and hoped that America had made the right decision. The right decision, electing Obama. What hubris coming from a Canadian journalist, and totally inappropriate coming from someone who reports for Canada's national broadcaster.Despite her no-atheists-in-foxholes-constant-rosary-recitation, Fung also takes swipes at Christian fundamentalists (equating a devout Muslim's prayer cycles to that of a "Deep South" Christian and saying, "God knows there are enough problems with Christian fundamentalists in Western society…") and also demeans her own Canadian citizenship: Just like I wouldn't say I'm a devout Catholic, I wouldn't call myself an unduly patriotic Canadian…But everywhere I went, I was pretty proud to be a Canadian, proud of everything Canada stood for internationally in the tradition of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. In the tradition of Pearson and Trudeau is really important there -- the peacekeepers-not-policemen foreign policy that certain proper-thinking people think should be Canada's only role internationally -- you know Pearson and Trudeau, the Prime Minister who charged into Korea and the one who chummed with Castro soon after the Bay of Pigs. Her politics aside, I was also surprised that Fung seemed to empathise with her kidnappers, blaming a generation of domestic war for their criminal activities. While I could see why Lindhout understood her captors' motivations (the young men who held her wanted the ransom to fund their education and marriages) I was dismayed that Fung could also see logic in her captors seeking ransom to buy Kalashnikovs and materials to make the IEDs that were all too often blowing up the Canadian Forces that she was embedded with.And one last comparison -- Lindhout's book included information about what her family and the Canadian Government were doing to secure her release, including information about how the ransom negotiations were going; information I found very interesting and compelling. Fung's book didn't share any of this, despite including letters from her "special friend" Peter, a man who began writing letters to her while she was being held because "I wanted you to have a record of what went on". These letters, while loving, don't actually include any information about "what went on". I have much empathy for Mellissa Fung and am heartened to see that writing this book has helped her to deal with her horrific experience, but fair or not, I have recently seen the format done better, and as a result, this memoir is ultimately disappointing.

  • Nancy
    2019-01-25 23:54

    I really didn't like this book. Throughout I just kept saying "waaa, waaa, waaa". Sure it was a traumatic and really harrowing experience to be kidnapped and kept in a hole in the ground with no privacy for 28 days in Afghanistan. The story is worth telling. But the repetition of all the apologizing to others for the stress and heartache they were experiencing in the letters written to family and friends was way over the top in terms of what readers need to get the point.The verbatim conversations with the kidnappers and the whining day after day after day was so tiring to read. I just got so tired of Melissa's voice.The prayers and hymns written out in full - too much for me.What I did appreciate what her resilience and ability to remain thankful for things light daylight on a wall of the hole, the beauty of the landscape appreciated, engagement with her kidnappers and their interests (learning Pashto, teaching English, singing, relationships, etc).The book could have been a lot shorter and succinct for the reader. I realize however that writing the book was part of her process of healing and appreciate it for that and the fact that all proceeds fund a school for women. But as a reader, there was just too much personal religion, relationships, and whining for me.

  • Mariola
    2019-02-01 01:57

    Classic example of Stockholm syndrome where "hostage express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward his captors. Convinces herself that lack of abuse is an ack of their kindness." Besides that, very repetitive and boring. With sentences like :" I didn't know there was a gun market there"........ seriously now, this country was/is being torn by war for 3 decades now. This war journalist is naive and clueless beyond believe.PS. " I am canadian but I prefer the american national anthem"....Im not even going to comment on that one.

  • Mikey B.
    2019-02-20 02:50

    What a page turner this is! It is an engrossing true story of a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) journalist who is kidnapped in Afghanistan. She is hidden by her Taliban captors (or a variation of them) in a hole in the ground for about thirty days. During this time she is aware that negotiations for her release are in some stage of vicarious progress.The great strength of this account is the conversations that she has with her captors. We get a vivid inside portrayal of these Afghan men and their society. It is a very limited world view indeed, constrained by a fundamentalist view of Islam. They are from a poor and shattered country; like Mellissa we often feel a total disconnect with their thought processes.We learn from the author’s description of her experience in refugee camps and the subjugation of women expressed in the conversations with her captors that this country has a long journey to go before it can attain anything resembling social stability.Perhaps it is trivial, but I also came away with the impression that her captors were a physically tough people (i.e. formidable adversaries). Towards the end of her captivity they took her on a trek in the mountains and were able to sleep comfortably during the night with only a blanket on the rocky mountain escarpments and continued the walk the next morning with very little nourishment. When we do something similar in western countries we carry loads of expensive high tech paraphernalia (tents, backpacks, specialized foods, cooking equipment…) and stay at a pre-arranged campsite. These Afghans simply tossed a blanket on the rocks and fell asleep.This is a passionate narrative of a woman who had her life taken away from her for a month. Although she is helpless, she maintains her strength and dignity. We feel her endurance throughout the arduous ordeal. It is an absorbing story and gives an inner view of Afghanistan.

  • Shonna Froebel
    2019-02-13 07:38

    Before her kidnapping and captivity in Afghanistan, Mellissa Fung had an active life, with her career in journalism advancing nicely. She was in a relatively new relationship and looking forward to upcoming changes in both her work and personal life.Her kidnapping memoir shows this and how knowing her support system of family and friends was out there got her through her ordeal. She tries to create relationships with her kidnappers, asking about them and their families and their life goals. She writes letters to friends and family in her notebook, hoping that someday she will be able to give them in person. She prays and finds her rosary a comfort. Her portrayal of the young men who kidnap her and the world she finds herself in is written in the present tense and comes across as raw and real. I know from media coverage that she found writing this book difficult, but something she needed to do. It gives us a window into her experience and into life in this difficult country. Well worth the read.Shortlisted for the 2012 OLA Evergreen Award

  • Hildy
    2019-02-17 07:03

    Under an Afghan Sky – A Memoir of Captivity recounts the traumatic abduction and confinement of Mellissa Fung a journalist who was held captive for 28 days in a dark, rancid hole in a small town on the outskirts of Kabul. I read this book fairly quickly as the writing style is simple and easy to read but vivid in detail and dialogue. It is a poignant and somewhat riveting recollection of inner and mental strength and the author’s belief in God and faith in pray which I found to be ultimately inspiring. It was interesting to read about the relationship, which I guess was one of friendliness (during most of their interaction) between the author and one of her captors. It just demonstrated that her captors were not bad people, but rather individuals pushed to the edge in a worn torn country, with harrowing poverty and divided by political and religious extremes. Within this set of pre-existing conditions, these individuals were eking out an existence by abducting and ransoming foreigners for a few hundred K. The author however portrayed her captors and the conversations they had with a lot of humanity that you were able to get a sense of who they were and not just a one dimensional stereotype of an Afghani captor. Another thing I found interesting was that the author was not afraid of dying. There is always that possibility when you go to such war torn places like Afghanistan, but to be that mentally prepared (about the very real possibility) of getting killed was surprising to me. The only thing I really did not like in the book was some of the background information and anecdotes from the author’s life which I thought were unnecessary and boring. However that is just my opinion, and does not take anything away from the fact that this is a poignant and gripping read.

  • Heather Clitheroe
    2019-02-02 07:45

    While Fung's story is compelling, the book reads like a script from a news segment: choppy and short. I wanted to like the story better because I felt so much sympathy for the author - her ordeal was, without a doubt, horrible. And though I did read on, it felt a bit like I was reading because of the sheer spectacle...which was disturbing to me. There's little understanding to be gained from the book. Her kidnappers are, she says, petty thieves. There's some discussion about the state of the police force in Afghanistan, and repeated mention that ransom was not paid, and some talk about the kind of work she was doing. But most of the book talks about her time in captivity which was, by her account, filled with moments of terror and long, long hours of boredom. I feel conflicted saying that I didn't enjoy it much. I had hoped there would be more about her reintegration into her old life after her negotiated release, I think. Instead, a lot of remarks about the cookies her kidnappers ate. It's still a compelling story, but I felt a bit guilty for having read it at all. It felt like the literary equivalent of watching while something really bad happened to somebody...and watching just for the sheer entertainment of it. Fung has recently said, in an interview, that she thought the experience of writing the book would be cathartic, but that it wasn't...and that if she had to do it again, she would not have written it. I think that sense runs through the book - that the expected release of emotions isn't there, for the author, and can't be found by the reader.

  • J. E.Hewitt
    2019-02-13 03:37

    This was an gripping account of this journalist's ordeal being held hostage in Afghanistan. I've read other such stories and, even though more happened in them, I found them less compelling. That's not a great thing to say, I know ... gee, your story of being kidnapped is not as good as hers ... but in this case it's a journalist telling the story so inevitably it is well written and well paced. Although much of the story is about how she passed many intolerably horrid hours, it's never boring because it's quite a study in human nature. It's pretty amazing how she keeps up her hope in such a situation and does not become swamped by fear and despair. I am certain that I would not be as patient and forgiving as Ms. Fung! I read this book because it is up for the Evergreen award and I'm trying to read a few of those as I do every year.

  • Kim
    2019-01-23 02:47

    It was interesting to read Amanda Lindhout's story about her experiences living in captivity in Somalia for over a year, then this book. Fung's story is not nearly as dire since she was treated comparatively well and released after only 28 days (even though she was held in an underground bunker for most of it!). Her advantage was having the CBC on her side whereas Lindhout was freelance (and green to boot). The most interesting part of this book was her focus on contrasting her religion (Christianity) with fundamentalist Islam, though she certainly could have dealt with this more deeply. The letters between her love (Paul Workman) and herself did not really add anything - rather repetitious and not very insightful.

  • Jean Oram
    2019-02-03 06:48

    Canadian journalist is captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and held in a hole for a month while her kidnappers try to negotiate a lot of money for her return. However, she is an employee of a public broadcasting corp and there isn't a lot of money...A memoir of how she kept her spirits up, connected with her captors, and subsisted on juice and cookies for a month. No showers. A dusty hole the size of most washrooms.My husband really enjoyed the aspect of how Fung connected with her captors and understood why they were doing what they were. Personally, I wanted more 'on the back end.' In other words, after her release the book ended. I was curious about how she felt back home. Whether she really did form that cavity. How her reunion was with her boyfriend, etc.

  • Elizabeth Lister
    2019-01-31 00:36

    DNF. I read about half of it and the very end. I couldn't bear the tedium and darkness of being in the 'hole' with her for any longer. I really don't know how she came out of this experience as well as she did. I do admire her strength and, certainly, the narrative is interesting enough for awhile. But then it seemed like she was having the same arguments over and over with her captors, as I'm sure she WAS, but it was very frustrating reading. I also would have liked to read more about how she felt immediately after being freed and reuniting with her boyfriend and parents.

  • Kat Hodgins
    2019-02-15 02:39

    As others have said, I really, really wanted to like this book ... but I didn't. I wanted to feel real empathy for Mellissa; I wanted to understand her experience; I wanted to get inside the head of her captors, get a feel for the realities. I didn't get any of that. I got a dis-jointed and repetitive narration that left me completely unsatisfied.Mellissa Fung indicates in the afterword that she felt the need to write this book, and thought it would be therapeutic; in interviews since she says she did not experience any healing from it. I do feel for her, and hope she finds peace.

  • Jennifer
    2019-02-04 05:40

    What an amazing tale of capture, confinement and release. You feel you are in the cave with her and you hope, every time she hopes, for release. Months later, I can still picture the dirt floor, the cramped conditions. Fung's faith is apparent.As an interesting footnote, the 10th anniversary edition of The Walrus has a follow up piece by Fung that is a must read regarding what the whole presence of Canada in Afghanistan has meant from her perspective.

  • Patrick
    2019-02-18 00:55

    Whine, whine, whine... Nothing insightful in this book, with nothing much to say. Maybe that's why half of it is reprinting emails from her boyfriend. I made the mistake of reading this book after finishing "A House In The Sky" by Amanda Lindhout, another journalist held hostage by Islamic fundamentalists, but for a much longer length of time. Fung's book pales by comparison.

  • Travis Lupick
    2019-02-11 04:47

    This is not a review but is based on an interview I had with the author. It was originally published in the Georgia Straight newspaper.More than 12 years have passed since NATO countries first deployed soldiers in Afghanistan towards the end of 2001, and Mellissa Fung says she still doesn’t totally understand what Canada was doing there.“The official explanation for us going in was to provide security so that these institutions like schools and courts could take shape,” the former CBC journalist told the Straight. “But politically, what the motives for going in were, I still don’t know.”Fung has had plenty of time to think about that question—she spent 28 days in a hole in the ground outside of Kandahar in 2008 after she was kidnapped while on assignment in the country. And Canada’s involvement in the war was a topic she repeatedly debated with the men holding her hostage, Fung recounts in a book she wrote a book about that ordeal, Under An Afghan Sky: A Memoir of Captivity.Since then, the East Vancouver journalist has volunteered with a non-profit called Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, with whom she returned to Afghanistan in 2013. Fung is scheduled to speak at the HR MacMillan Space Centre about that work on April 29.In a telephone interview, Fung explained why she’s dedicating so much of her time to a country in which she was held captive.“I felt like something good had to come out of what happened to me,” she explained. “I felt like I was lucky to have been able to come back, and I felt like I had to do something with it. And I think when I talk about Afghanistan, people listen now, unfortunately because of what happed to me. And so I feel like I have to put that to good use.”A number of articles featuring interviews with Fung note that the journalist’s own story is not one of her favourite topics; she prefers to talk about things like education for women and girls.“From my trip talking to them last year and talking to them on email, they’re afraid of what’s going to happen [after NATO’s withdrawal is complete],” she said. “They feel like they are being abandoned again. And I think they asked me to sort of make that case for them.”Fung conceded that in light of a worrying security situation, it can be easy to forget that Canada has contributed to tangible improvements in many Afghan’s lives.“We have 10 million children in school, and 40 percent of those children are girls,” she said. “I think about the women I’ve met in literacy classes—during the Taliban’s time, they were not allowed to go to school, and as a result, they can’t read, they can’t even write their own names. And now they’re learning how to do that. And once you teach somebody to read, they can’t unlearn that.”Fung also noted that 30 percent of parliamentarians in Afghanistan are women. “They’ve made great strides,” she added.Today, Fung continued, she’s worried that Canadians are forgetting not just about Canada’s accomplishments in Afghanistan, but about the country altogether. “We’ve been trying to figure out what we can do to keep Afghanistan sort of alive,” she said.

  • Deborah
    2019-01-26 23:46

    On the route of Canadian journalist kidnapping stories, I had just finished A House In the Sky and The Price of Life, one or both had mentioned Melissa Fung's story. Great story and captivating writing, Melissa even mentions Amanda Lindhout in the story. Although much shorter than Lindhout's book, I think I enjoyed this so much because I related so much to her stories of the GTA. Overall great read.

  • Boni Wagner-Stafford
    2019-01-26 08:00

    I loved Under an Afghan Sky: A Memoir of Captivity. Partly because I briefly worked with Melissa at CBC in Vancouver years ago, and partly because I love captivating (pardon the pun) nonfiction. I sensed Melissa was leaving certain details out, and if that is the case, I thank her for sparing me exposure to further horrors. Truly a great read, and sad that Melissa and other journalists must expose themselves to such risk to bring important stories to the world.

  • Lester
    2019-02-20 04:33

    Mellissa Fung..thank you so much for this story and wishes for happiness to you. Dream softly and well.

  • Karen Cairns
    2019-02-02 07:49

    A tale of strength. A well-written memoir that kept me fully engaged.

  • Carol
    2019-02-19 04:02

    An interesting read - not what you would expect by the kidnappers

  • Thea
    2019-02-09 01:46

    This book is the memoir of 28 harrowing days of capture for CBC reporter Mellissa Fung, when she was kidnapped by Afghan petty criminals in 2008. The last part of the book was a real page-turner for me, as I knew she had been released in 2008 but was I unaware of how the end of her captivity came about. There are a few noteworthy facts about this story. Mellissa comes through as a mentally strong young woman, although very demoralized and frightened. She has the presence of mind not to go mad in the hole in which the kidnappers stuff her. Although she agonizes over the pain and suffering of her loved ones, she does not dwell on her own state of pain, filth and deprivation, or the close proximity, for the first 20 days, of her Muslim captors. She always thinks, there's someone in the world worse off than herself.Another noteworthy fact is that she learns very early on to forgive her captors, especially the one with whom she built a relationship, Khalid. She actually has pity on her captors, with their primitive mindset, and realizes that although she could never change their attitude about what they have done, she could make them respect and even like her a little. She quickly realizes that although they morally support the Taliban, her captors were not Taliban, but petty criminals. She aids in keeping herself out of Taliban hands when they come looking for her.Mellissa spent much time in prayer, alternating between beseeching God to help her, and anger at God for allowing setbacks. She is a practicing Catholic, which erroneous doctrine hold her prisoner, as much as her captors do. She does not believe in or understand salvation by grace, a tremendous comfort which she could not access. It was as simple as God help me, I will repeat the prayer of contrition and supplication (Hail Mary full of grace) over and over again, and maybe You will not be too busy to hear my prayers. Yet when she is finally released, she does not make mention of any thankfulness to God.She is also very confused about the difference between Allah and God, and plays with the idea that perhaps they are the same. She does not believe in black and white, good and bad. The whole world is grey. Typical post-modern view of truth, which is relative to the circumstance you may find yourself in.So all in all, I really enjoyed this book, but there are definitely drawbacks, and is a book to be read with discretion. I'm disappointed she didn't write anything about the time after her release, her first good meal and her first shower, or her reunion with her lover. But there you have it!

  • ❀ Susan G
    2019-01-25 07:37 part of the Acrostic August Challenge, I read Under the Afghan Sky which is a memoir detailing the 28 days that CBC reporter, Mellissa Fung spent in captivity in Afghanistan. This detailed account of being snatched at gunpoint following an interview at a refugee camp and described her captivity in a rudimentary hole underground. Fung attempted to journalize her experience and her account of getting to know her captors as she prayed for release.It is hard to imagine being held underground, subsisting on creme sandwich cookies and juice boxes for almost an entire month. With a bucket for a toilet, no ability to wash and light from a waning lamp she had nothing to do but write in her notebook and converse with her captors as she prayed for release.Her family had not been pleased that she was travelling back to Afghanistan and this resilient woman worried about how her parents, her partner Paul and her friends would cope with her disappearance. She wrote letters in her notebook and even detailed which of her belongings she would leave for her loved ones in the event of her death. Initially her captors stayed with her in the hole promising her release and keeping her company since she was a woman. When the captor shared that his mother had died, she was chained and kept in the hole alone saying the rosary and praying for release.As Fung has written her memoir, the reader knows that eventually Fung will be release but it is difficult to imagine her experience. It must have been challenging to revisit the fear and remember the damp, dank environment she was forced into. Bravely, Fung not only wrote about her experience but she returned to the refuge camp to finish her story in a Toronto Star article, 7 years later.This was not an easy story to read. It was uncomfortable and I am awed by Fung’s resilience, strength and compelling need to return to Afghanistan. She shared the complete inability of her captors to consider a different point of view, other than the destructive culture of the Taliban, which gives some perspective into the dangers in Afghanistan. This is another book that makes me proud to be Canadian and happy to raise my children in a free country. Fung’s memoir is part of the 100 True Stories that Make You Proud to be Canadian list.

  • Barbara
    2019-02-20 03:36

    Before reading this book, I'd been aware of Mellissa Fung's story, and was sure it would be a page turner. Mellissa was a CBC journalist, on assignment in Afghanistan. Well aware of the dangers, Melissa was eager to do her job and as much good as possible. It was during this time when she was kidnapped by a group of men whose ultimate goal was ransom money. This book details her capture, confinement in a carefully hidden hole in a dangerous company and eventual release. While it was an interesting read and showed her absolute bravery, I was left with mixed feelings about this one. The Good: - Mellissa Fung is incredibly open about her experiences. As traumatizing as the situation must have been, she bravely recounts the abuse she suffered. She outlines specifics for readers, instead of making inferences and leaving others to make their own conclusions- this makes the book feel much more real and powerful. - Secondly, while acknowledging the trauma of the situation, Mellissa is bright enough and mature enough to see the situation as it was- these were young boys with so few opportunities that kidnapping for ransom seemed like their best choice. Mellissa's ability to acknowledge this and forgive for her captors is the highlight of this book for me.The bad: - While the detail was one of the things I found most enjoyable, I also felt some parts became a bit repetitive. Every single day is described in detail, down to the type of cookies that were provided each day. Instead of individually explaining each and every day, I felt some of this could have been summarized, which would have prevented the parts that dragged on for me.In all, the writing and story are captivating; what stands out to me is Mellissa's forgiveness in such a tough situation. I would absolutely recommend this book; readers will not be disappointed.

  • Louise
    2019-02-05 07:44

    Mellissa Fung, thirty-five-years –old, has been a long time journalist for CBC’s ‘THE NATIONAL’ in Canada. As she was reporting on the effects of war in Afghanistan, she was leaving a refugee camp outside Kabul when she was grabbed by armed men saying they were Taliban. After stabbing her, stuffing her into the back of a car, she was driven into the desert and then forced to walk through mountains, bleeding profusely. Finally her kidnappers stopped and forced her into a hole in the ground where she lived for the next “28” days! The hole was hardly big enough to stand up or lie down in and she had her serious injuries to contend with as well. The only thing she had to eat was cookies and juice.Mellissa, a brave young woman felt her best bet was to keep her captors engaged in some sort of dialogue thinking they’d come to know her better and take pity on her. She felt by endearing herself to them, they would come to think of her as a good friend, or even family as one of her captors eventually regarded her as “sister”. She asked how to pronounce each of their names properly, asked if they had families, taught them English words, and finally convinced them to promise her that they wouldn’t shoot her!This was an amazing memoir of one woman’s courage, strength, and resilience to remain calm during a gruelling 28 day captivity. The writing is both compelling and deeply moving. I couldn’t put it down until I’d turned the last page.

  • Jenny
    2019-01-25 02:53

    I really liked Fung's storytelling style -- I want to call this a compelling read, but that word doesn't feel right because I had to take breaks periodically. This is a story of a woman being kept prisoner in a literal hole in the ground for nearly a month, and Fung makes you feel exactly how awful that would be. No bathing, no clean clothes, only the hard ground for a bed, limited food and water -- and that's just the start. I have close friends who are women news journalists, and I recognized a lot of them in Mellissa (yes, I'm going to switch to her first name now, because after reading this highly personal memoir, how could I not?). Their tenacity, their strength; their commitment to peace. Mellissa never blames or hates her captors (with the possible exception of one particularly vile individual), and I wonder how much of that is because of her Canadian-ness? I couldn't venture to say. What I can say is that this book is no less harrowing because you know it has a "happy" outcome; that Mellissa tells her own story with an unflinching journalist's mein; that it illustrates that war and the lives it affects are never simple.

  • Michelle
    2019-01-24 01:45

    As one reviewer also mentioned, I too read "A House in the Sky", Amanda Lindhout's account of captivity at the hands of Somali kidnappers and it was hard not to make comparisons. I found myself however, really captivated by the differences in Amanda Lindhout's and Mellissa Fung's experiences.For one, I kept thinking to myself "thank goodness" Mellissa was treated well in comparison. And Mellissa's story was really quite different because she was able to develop a bond with one of her captors which speaks to her ability to look past what she experienced and connect with the humanity in her captor.I didn't find this memoir as engaging as other memoirs I have read but that certainly doesn't discount the experiences, the effort and the raw, natural story-telling that Mellissa offers in her memoir. I find these types of stories always incredibly engrossing as I wonder, what if that were ME? How would I handle that type of issue? Mellissa is truly an extraordinary woman!

  • Bronwyn
    2019-01-21 01:44

    Absolutely fantastic. I was worried that this book would be too dark, and also I thought the "two people in a hole" plot line would become too tedious for words, but I was wrong on both counts. Fung is not an effusive writer, but she is direct, and she is excellent at setting up a scene, and painting character. The book reads like a thriller, and I could not put it down as even though I knew the ending, I was dying to know its exact circumstances. Fung very eloquently portrays her captors as fully-fleshed human beings, caught in a disastrously corrupt and malfunctioning country. You can see why the Taliban would seem to be a viable option in a lawless country where young men have few employment opportunities. I almost wished that Fung would bring in more politics to her book, but it likely benefits from the focus of remaining a personal memoir.

  • Lynn
    2019-01-31 03:45

    Under an Afghan Sky is the true story of CBC journalist Mellissa Fung who was taken hostage while on assignment in Afghanistan. Her captors keep her in a hole in the ground for four weeks. Mellissa's diet consists primarily of cookies, juice, and cigarettes. She does a good job of describing the monotony and her desire to make a connection with her captors to speed up her release. Fung has some empathy for these young men whose futures have been stunted by the ravages of the war.The book is about her kidnapping and subsequent release, then it ends. I think the book would have been more well rounded if Fung had shared thoughts of her return to normal life. It would have been interesting to hear her perspective on the incident after some time had passed. The book felt like it was only half the story.

  • Bookworm
    2019-02-05 02:50

    I read this story after reading Amanda Lindhout's story which unfortunately affected my overall enjoyment. I feel for the author as being captured and held hostage for a month is certainly a traumatic experience. I enjoyed the author's tell it like it is approach. As for plot, the author seemed to fill a lot of pages with her descriptions of living in Canada, her friends and her normal everyday life. I just didn't find those bits very interesting and detracted from the overall story. Although 30 days would feel like forever while in captivity, I just don't think it gives much to write about in a novel format. Perhaps a short story format would have been better.

  • Julie
    2019-01-30 01:42

    This book was not the easiest book to read, there were a lot of sections that almost dragged, but considering the topic, it was understandable. The experience that Ms. Fung writes about had many moments of monotony. Sometimes the details she writes about seem so small and unimportant, but again, this was her experience, it seems like she focused on these minute details so she would have something to think about besides what was taking place. Overall, the book manages to expose the reader to both the ugliness and the kindness that is inherent in humanity.