CLEVELAND, Ohio — Through more than 300 pages, Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus recall the decade they spent in captivity after they were kidnapped by Ariel Castro.
Their story, “Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland,” is in stores Monday and provides a glimpse into the physical and psychological abuse the women overcame, alongside Michelle Knight.
The memoir, written in first-person, relies heavily on memories from the women, as well as a diary Berry kept during the years she was trapped inside Castro’s Seymour Avenue home. The book is co-authored by Washington Post reporters Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, who provide insight into the Castro investigation.
In a note to readers, Berry and DeJesus say that they’ve “written about terrible things we never wanted to think about again,” but they want people to know the truth.
Berry writes that she saw Castro’s van as she walked home from her job at Burger King in April 2003. Castro smiled and asked if she needed a ride. Berry recognized him and knew his daughter, so she agreed to go with him to see her. Once at his house, Castro took Berry’s cell phone and then led her inside, where he trapped her.
“He has suddenly turned so scary – his voice, his eyes, his manner – and I do what he says. I stand there, crying.”
Gina writes Castro abducted her as she walked home from school in April 2004. He claimed he needed help finding his daughter, who was a friend of Gina’s, but first had to stop home for cash.
She recalls thinking:
“This is a little weird, but I tell myself to chill. My parents know him. He`s Arlene`s dad. if he needs to get money at home, what`s the big deal?”
Once at Castro’s home, she tried to escape, but she, too, was trapped.
DeJesus writes of Castro:
“He’s leading me toward a door and says that we have to go downstairs to get back outside. I can`t believe what`s happening. As soon as we walk down a few steps, I realize it`s a mistake.”
The women recall the emotional and physical control Castro had over them, keeping them chained and repeatedly raping them. They also monitored news coverage of the vigils being held for them.
Berry became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, Jocelyn, who she writes made a dark place brighter.
The women tried to maintain some semblance of normal life, including a Thanksgiving celebration in 2012. Berry even developed feelings for Castro.
“I feel sorry for him. I’m grateful that he went out of his way today to make us happy. I have never felt closer to him than I do at this moment. But I also know that if I had the chance to kill him right now to get free, I would do it without a second thought.”
They also write of their decision to attempt an escape in May 2013. Berry broke out through a locked screen door at the front of the house.
“I’m terrified he is going to pop out of nowhere. But I see no one. I hear nothing. My lungs feel like they’re on fire.”
Michelle Knight wrote a memoir of her own, called “Finding Me.” It’s being turned into a TV movie set to air Saturday on Lifetime.