This post contains affiliate links. While looking through audiobook choices to listen to while walking on the treadmill, I stumbled upon I’m Still Standing by Shoshana Johnson. I have listened to several prisoner of war stories from World War II, so I decided listening to one from modern times would be an interesting comparison.
About I’m Still Standing by Shoshana Johnson
In 2003, Shoshana Johnson was serving in Iraq when her convoy was ambushed. She was shot in the ankles and taken prisoner of war along with several others. Because the Geneva Conventions say that men and women soldiers must be separated, her captors left Johnson alone and isolated most of the time. She also had the terrifying experience of having surgery on her feet while captive.
Johnson was a POW for 22 days before members of the United States Marine Corps rescued her and the others.
This book is Johnson’s autobiography, covering her life from the time she was a young Army brat through a year or so after her release.
My Thoughts on the Book
Sadly, I see this book as a lost opportunity. This has the power to be a riveting story, but it’s not because of several flaws.
The Story Jumps in Time Too Much
I know the best way to hold a reader’s interest is to start with a suspense-filled event and then go back in time to how the person got to that point. However, this book takes that theory to the extreme. This story jumps back to Johnson’s time in the military, to when she was a young girl, to the present, to when she was a teen, to the recent past in the present time. You get the idea. I was often confused what time period she was in and how it related to the current story. I would have appreciated having the story open with one of her capture or prisoner of war scenes, and then slowly, chronologically had the story go back in time to get the reader to the present.
Her Trauma Is Muted Until the End of the Book
Second, Johnson was captured and held for 22 days. I know she must have been traumatized, but her writing about that time is muted. I can’t feel the terror she must have experienced. She doesn’t share that with the reader, so when she comes back home and has post traumatic stress disorder, I found myself wondering why it was so severe. As a reader, I needed to feel more of her fear and terror during the time she was held.
Because of these two flaws of the book, I give I’m Still Standing by Shoshana Johnson 3 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.