A former newspaper columnist’s account of how she survived being held hostage in her native Brazil before leaving to build a new life in the United States.
In 2013, the Brazilian National Truth Commission approached Keilt for testimony about her experiences with Brazilian police brutality nearly 40 years earlier. She began her story in São Paulo, where she grew up surrounded by opulence. Yet her “fairy tale life” was privately riven by her mysterious ex-military father’s “terrible, unpredictable rages” and the feeling that “something dangerous” always lurked in the shadows. In 1976, Keilt married Rick, a young American with whom she had fallen in love. Seemingly destined for a “golden future,” their lives were shattered a few months later when police assaulted them in their home and led them away in handcuffs. Charged with possession of a backpack full of cocaine neither had ever seen before, they were taken to a foul-smelling “dungeon” where “screams of pain, desperation and anger” filled the air. Both were raped and tortured for the next 45 days while a family lawyer worked to secure the $400,000 the captors demanded. Unspeakably scarred from her ordeal, Keilt soon found herself under pressure from her parents and especially her father to “forget it all” and remain silent about her experiences. Unable to live a lie and stay with the bitter, broken man her husband had become, the author fled to the U.S. a few years later. Keilt struggled as a waitressing single mother in California, for a time using sex and drugs to escape her pain. When her parents bought her a modest home as a gesture of reconciliation, the author finally began to find the peace that allowed her to heal. Moving and cathartic, Keilt’s book courageously confronts personal and national trauma as it reveals the resilience of the human spirit.
An honest and compelling memoir of reckoning with a difficult past and struggling toward a brighter future.