Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor, by Lucy Christopher (author), Emily Gray (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 9781449838409, July 2010 (original publication May 2009)

Gemma is sixteen years old, traveling with her parents from London to Vietnam on what is a business trip for her art curator mother, when a vaguely familiar man in his twenties pays for her coffee because she doesn't have local currency. She's grateful; he's polite and charming.

And within a few minutes, he has drugged her coffee and snatched her away from the coffee shop into a less public part of the airport.  When she is next fully awake and in her own senses, she's in an isolated house in the Australian Outback, with only her kidnapper, Ty, for company.

Isolated, terrified, but completely dependent, she has to learn more about Ty and more about where she is if she's going to survive and return home. Ty is a puzzle. He's kidnapped her, and she learns she wasn't a random target. He's been stalking her. He sincerely thinks he's done a good thing for her, taking her away from the false, crushing life of the city out to a free and beautiful place.

And it is beautiful. He has a lot to teach her about understanding and enjoying it, too. It's deeply confusing for Gemma, as she gets over her initial fear of immediate assault, torture, death, to find that there's a lot to like about Ty, a lot that's vulnerable and caring and thoughtful.

None of it changes the fact that he's taken her against her will away from everything and everyone she knows and loves, and is keeping her against her will in a place she does not want to be. He's broken and vulnerable and she'd like to heal that, but he's also her kidnapper and captor, keeping her from her family, friends, and home.

She's also utterly dependent on him for survival, out in the Sandy Desert, hundreds of miles from any help, with no food and water except his supplies and the survival skills he's slowly teaching her.

Christopher does a wonderful job giving us Gemma's thoughts, feelings, confusion as, at a later point, she is writing out her experience and feelings in the form of a letter to Ty, her captor.

It's a wonderful evocation of the complexities and absurdities and ambiguities of the situation, that Ty is a criminal who needs to pay for what he's done, and yet, Stockholm Syndrome acknowledged as really at work here, is also not a monster she wants to see destroyed--who in some ways she'd like to help.

Gemma is a real sixteen-year-old, with the vulnerabilities, insecurities, and lack of experience and adult judgment, but also a strong young woman, stronger than she knows, well worth getting to know.

Highly recommended.

Book trailer


I bought this book.