A captive for 18 years, the 29-year-old mother of two is rebuilding her life, one step at a time

After being held against her will for 18 years, much of it in a backyard hell straight out of a horror film, Jaycee Dugard wants the world to know:

“I’m so happy to be back with my family,” she tells PEOPLE.

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Now living in seclusion with her mom, Terry Probyn, 50, and the two daughters – Angel, 15, and Starlit, 11 – fathered by her alleged kidnapper, Phillip Garrido, Dugard, 29, has begun the slow process of recovery. She rides horses, cooks meals and is thinking of collaborating on a book.

“They live a surprisingly normal life, considering the circumstances,” says Terry’s stepmother, Joan Curry.

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For much more on Jaycee Dugard’s new life – including stunning photographs of her family, details of her reunion with the sister she hadn’t seen since 1991 and her deepening bond with her mother – pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday