In this story of kidnapping and survival, 16-year-old Gemma leads the readers through a story of captivity. As she learns more about her captor, she begins to question everything more and more, and so will the readers.
By Rachel Baker
As a high school student, vacation is the only time I truly have to read a book of my choice. It’s ironic (and a little creepy) that I began reading Stolen, a story of a girl abducted from an airport, while I was in the airport.
The protagonist, Gemma, decides to wander off from her parents after an argument in the airport. She finds herself in the coffee shop line facing a cute and strangely familiar man. They sit and flirt over their coffees while Gemma tries, but can’t quite place, his thick accent. Something about the way he talks to her makes her feel mature, older than just 16. She likes that a little.
That’s the last thing Gemma remembers before she finds herself wrapped up in the trunk of a pickup truck. From here, the story races on.
Readers will find it hard to put Stolen down because they will feel like they are on Gemma’s ride, asking her same questions: Who is this man? Where is he taking me. Why? Why does he look so familiar? Do my parents notice I’m gone yet?
As the story develops, Gemma learns more about her kidnapper, Ty. He’s not much older than her, and although her first instinct is to think of him as evil and sick, she can’t help but notice how sweet and empathetic he acts toward her. Yet, Gemma knows that she has to find a way out from the miles and miles of sand that surround her captivity. It takes weeks, maybe months – both Gemma and the reader lose track of time – before she accepts that she’ll never get out.
Once she sees that she may be stuck with him forever, Gemma starts to consider Ty in a different light. Maybe he isn’t so bad. He makes sure she’s alive and healthy every day. He’s never hurt her, and he even saved Gemma from her parents, who, according to Ty, never cared about her anyway.
One question lingers in the reader’s mind: Does Gemma truly develop feelings for her kidnapper or is it a subconscious means of survival? I have my answer. Pick up Stolen to find yours.
Rachel Baker is a sophomore at Cheltenham High School in Wyncote, Pennsylvania.
By Irene Levy Baker
I usually judge the quality of a book by whether I think about the characters during the day. Not only did I spend the day thinking about Stolen, by Lucy Christopher, I was haunted by it. I couldn’t stop thinking about the main character, Gemma, and her situation.
Stolen begins when Gemma, a 16-year-old girl, is taken from the Bangkok airport. It starts with a seemingly innocent flirtation with an appealing, slightly older man, named Ty. Nothing about him signals “Stanger Danger.” He’s not disheveled and shifty-eyed; he’s not wearing a trench coat. Honestly, as a parent, I think that Ty’s initial impression may be one of the book’s most important lessons for teens. Antagonists, villains, kidnappers – whatever you call them – can just as easily be well-mannered and good looking with a boyish cowlick and sparkling blue eyes.
After she’s “stolen,” the plot takes interesting twists, which the author skillfully narrates from Gemma’s perspective. Through her eyes, the reader learns along with Gemma about the life of a captive. She must depend on Ty for everything, from her daily meals to protection. Though he holds her against her will, he also works hard to provide for her needs, including loving care when she is sick and in danger. Their relationship continues to change as Gemma gets to know Ty better, learns more about his background and remembers why he looks familiar to her.
Gemma’s shifting emotions toward Ty also adds depth to Stolen. Since she’s only 16, Gemma is drawn in by Ty’s attention, and she naively believes what Ty tells her about her parents’ lack of affection for her. Let’s face it, being worshiped would make anyone feel special, especially an inexperienced youth who has never really felt special before. Although there are times when Gemma hates Ty, she is also intrigued by him.
This book, which is written as a letter from Gemma to Ty, gives the reader an insider’s view of Gemma’s internal struggles and changing emotions. She tells their story from the beginning all the way to the nail-biting, have-to-stay-up-late-to-finish-it ending. If you don’t mind losing a little sleep, I would definitely recommend this book!