Recent Reads: Impossible Odds

Blog Post 66 Recent Reads by Oneras

Photo courtesy of Oneras and

A writer’s reading can take them places that they may not expect as they begin researching for a new novel. That recently happened to me as I began doing some research for a novel I intend to put out next fall. I stumbled across a condensed article related to the book called Impossible Odds: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and Her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team SIx. This is an autobiography about an aid worker, Jessica Buchanan, who fell prey to Somali pirates who had moved their business onto land. While she was on a site visit to a town in south Somalia as part of her work for an aid agency, pirates kidnapped her and a male coworker and took them into the desert to be ransomed.

The book, written by Jessica, her husband, Erik Landemalm, and with help from Anthony Flacco, takes a unique approach to telling the story by telling Jessica’s part from the first-person point of view (POV) and Eric’s from the third-person POV with a smattering of the story of the SEALs from a distant third-person POV.

For the most part, it works. The way Jessica told her story pulled me in. I felt her fear of the pirates, her pain from the illnesses that developed, and her struggle with falling prey to despair. The way Eric told his story subtly conveyed that while his was important, Jessica’s took center stage. The one weakness, I thought, came from Flacco’s discussion of the SEALs. While some of it was great, I felt like it detracted from the main storyline because it wasn’t clear how much research had been done on this very mysterious group of SEALs, especially about their distant past.

The only other bone I have to pick with the book regards the hard copy (does not apply to the e-book version at all). The publisher utilized a slightly lower grade of paper than is found in most books. While I normally don’t have a problem with this, I do have a problem with the fact that they did not up the paper quality for the pages where the pictures were. Normally, the first thing I do with autobiographies or biographies is to search for the pictures. The shift in paper quality grabs my attention, and the photos are always crisp and clear. In Impossible Odds, putting the pictures on the same kind of paper as the text actually muddied the photos and made them difficult to view.

Overall, Impossible Odds is a solid book that provides an inner view of the way that Somali pirates function as well as how a person can endure situations that may seem unlivable. I would recommend this to anyone researching the topic or who has an interest in human interest stories, Somalia, or Africa in general.

I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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