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I Know My First Name Is Steven
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I Know My First Name Is Steven

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  4,388 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
This is the compelling true account of Steven Stayner's horrifying abduction, as well as the updated story of how Steven's brother, Cary Stayner, made headlines of his own - as the cold-blooded killer who terrorised Yosemite.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 15th 1999 by Pinnacle (first published December 1st 1991)
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In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonThe Stranger Beside Me by Ann RuleColumbine by Dave Cullen
Best True Crime
34th out of 670 books — 992 voters
In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John BerendtPeople Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry
True Crime--Well Written
33rd out of 235 books — 202 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Lisa Lamere-krzysiak
Sep 06, 2013 Lisa Lamere-krzysiak rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
This book touched my heart. I have watched the movie several times and it still upsets me and the book broke my heart. the time the man got for doing what he did to steven was just horrible. Then boy sufferd for 10 years and parnell got 7 years and he told steven he would get him when he got out. well it was like a year after parnell was released from prison steven was on his way home from work on his motorcycle and was involved in a hit and run and was killed. no one ever looked at parnell in t ...more
Jul 27, 2011 Jessi rated it it was amazing
I've read this one many times and it still affects me each time. It's now made even more sad by knowing the trouble his brother Cary has caused.
Oct 12, 2010 Rachael rated it it was amazing
one of the many tragic child abduction and abuse cases. i cannot even begin to imagine going thru something like this with one of my children. RIP : Steven Staynor - u are finally at peace.
Apr 26, 2008 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: true crime readers.
Very chilling and disturbing... It was hard for me to read at some points, as I am a mother. A good read for true crime lovers.
Feb 24, 2014 Jake rated it really liked it
I Know My First Name Is Steven is one of the best "true crime" books I have ever read. I put the quotes around true crime for a few reasons, the biggest which is that I am a snob. It's true. I view this genre as sub-par to "real" writing. (Real writing, of course, uses the quotation marks with a lot less frequency). Now I admit there is some real great stuff out there, Helter Skelter, and In True Blood being great examples, but over all I find the genre to be sensationalized soap opera trash tha ...more
Dec 17, 2007 Candy rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book. Very hard to put down, and a compelling story to read. It was so interesting to see the other side of such a situation. I am sure a story not likely always known.
Mar 01, 2015 Steven rated it really liked it
This is that rarest of true-crime books, one with a happy ending. A boy kidnapped for seven years comes home safely—and rescues a recently kidnapped five-year-old in the process. Such is the triumph of a young man’s instincts for survival and self-preservation.

This is also the story of a monster of a man who robbed a boy of his childhood and innocence and destroyed a family in the process. And the monster abused numerous others and appears likely to have gotten away with the murder of at least
♥ Marlene♥
Jun 18, 2016 ♥ Marlene♥ rated it really liked it
This book is on my read pile but I became interested again in this case after I watched a documentary about Cary Stayner the Serial killer. So after watching that they mentioned his little brother being kidnapped. I decided to buy the kindle version because I was curious and did not have a copy of the book I supposedly had read.

Well Finished it last night and I did enjoy the book although enjoy is not the best word. I find it very hard to read about kids being repeatedly abused by adults but I k
Apr 17, 2014 Steen rated it liked it
This is every parents worst nightmare. Steven Stayner dissappeared on his way home from school one day when he was just 7 years old. He was kidnapped by Kenneth Eugene Parnell with the help of another man, and was kept as a captive and abused for over seven years. It wasn't until Steven was around 14 years old and Parnell had kidnapped another little boy named Timmy White that Steven had the courage to escape. He didn't want that little boy to go through the abuse that he himself did.

I think th
Becky S. Vickery
I grew up having seen the movie about this case. We all watched it, and I think it's one of those that sticks with you - especially when you're a kid and to watch another kid go through so much. The book did a great job detailing out the when, where, how, what, and who of this tragic story. For anyone who watched this movie as a kid, you'll find the book insightful and, in a strange way, a closure to the story.
May 05, 2009 John rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The true story of the abduction of a young boy and how he had the courage to run when his abductor picked out a new victim. It is difficult to read about him trying to blend back into his family. He never really had a normal life afterwards. Ironically his brother went on to murder women in Yosemite Park.
Jan 17, 2016 Aljan rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful, albeit tragic book. I was saddened to hear that the relationship between the author and the family soured and that it was published without their blessing. Be sure to also read "The Yosemite Killer" about Steven's older brother, who killed three women in the Yosemite area. There are many references to Steven.
Sep 23, 2012 Mandy37 rated it it was ok
I know that this is a true story, but it felt hollow when I was reading it. It didn't ring true for me. In one of the three prefaces, the "best friend" describes how horrible everything was for her and not once shows genuine concern. The author said that he wanted the tre story out but it did n way.ot read that
Tasha Hart
Mar 08, 2013 Tasha Hart rated it really liked it
Shelves: favories
I remember reading this as a young adult and the story still is ingrained in me...

When I became a parent it was always in the back of my mind and will never leave...

Eerie and haunting but definately worth reading!
Dec 21, 2008 Jenn rated it it was amazing
What an enthralling True Crime book! It was astounding how this boy was stolen when he was young, yet somehow they still managed to have him come back to his parents when he was a teen, and he managed to integrate! This one definately made me cry.
Jan 30, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up in the Winnipeg Airport on our way to Toronto. I read it in a day or two. It is the story of a boy that was abducted and returned to his bio-family seven years later. His brother was the Yosemite Killer, Cary Stayner. Strange...
Jan 29, 2009 Love rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I had to read this after I saw the movie when I was kid. When I saw it I don't think I was old enough to understand it. I read it and cried almost through the whole book. Read in 2 days. It keep me hooked.
Aug 28, 2011 John rated it really liked it
I give this one a "4" for the inherent power of the story and the insights provided by the author's research and many interviews. A fifth star is lost due to spotty writing skills and the inappropriate, sleazy sensationalism of including the Cary Stayner story in this 1999 edition.
Jan 22, 2013 Ellis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-crime
One of my favourite, this case just got to me. I was just born when he was kidnapped..
I watch the movie like every half year, the movie is also awesome!
Jun 19, 2008 Lizzy rated it really liked it
I've read this book a couple of times. It's so shocking and sad. A true story of what happens to children who are kidnapped and not murdered. What it does to them and their families.
Jul 31, 2011 Ishanie rated it liked it
Quick read but by no means is it an easy read. Very sad, graphic and shocking. Those w/a weak stomach shouldn't read.
Rachel Schlow
i read this. it turns out his first name WAS steven. kenneth parnell's name is very similar to kenneth parcell of 30 rock fame.
Aug 22, 2008 Kath1216 rated it liked it
The movie always fascinated and now I own the book!
Oct 10, 2015 crashqueen73 rated it really liked it
This was a disturbing read. I don't know why, but I am fascinated with these "kidnapping" stories at the moment. It is creeping me out a little. I have to say that the stories that are written by the actual person are more interesting to me than the ones researched by another. But this one was still interesting.

My only complaint with this one was that when one is discussing a number of persons it is very hard to keep track of everyone (especially in the court case eg lawyers for the defense and
Jun 29, 2015 Jenn rated it liked it
Recommended to Jenn by: Mom
Shelves: non-fiction, three
This is the true story of Steven Staynor. A sick old man manipulated seven year old Steven into thinking they were going to talk to his mother about church, but they never made it there. Instead this sick fuck held Steven captive for seven years as his own son moving from one dump to another. It wasn't until the sick bastard kidnapped another boy that Steven decided to escape in hopes of saving the five year old from what he had been through.

The story also goes on to tell about the trial and abo
Jul 05, 2008 Susan rated it it was ok
Based on the true story of Steven Stayner who was abducted as a 7 year old. This book tells the story of who took him, where they went, and what happened along the way until he escaped seven years later.
The book overall was horrible. It was written poorly in an uninteresting way, and read like a textbook rather than a story. The only reason I kept reading it is because the first chapter baited me with a glimpse of his return home. I forced myself to drudge through page after page until it anti-c
Jun 27, 2016 Kathy rated it it was amazing
This book is a hard read because of the subject matter. I thought the book was well written. I was appreciative that nothing was spared from the book, as it is important for people to understand that there are many crimes against children that go undetected. This all happened in front of our very eyes. Steven was convinced that the kidnapper/molester was keeping him because his parents didn't want him anymore. This was so untrue. Sad, but because of Steven, the next boy that was kidnapped by Ken ...more
Wendy E
May 27, 2015 Wendy E rated it it was ok
A compelling and tragic story, but I found the way it was written to be dry and unengaging. The author's tendency to switch between first and last names and between Steven/Dennis made it confusing. He never explained why the parents refused counseling (religious belief?) which seemed to add to the tragedy. Perhaps the older brother could have been helped to channel his anger appropriately if he had been helped as a teen when his brother was snatched. So the story gets five stars , but the writin ...more
May 19, 2016 Tiffany rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Well written, researched, and very intriguing although inevitably very disturbing. For a long time I found the cycle of abuse incomprehensible and this book provided me a new point of view. Still horrible, but it's a tiny bit clearer to me now. I feel so sad for the family. The only section I found slow was the legal process, but that's just my personal preference.
Ann Marie
May 07, 2010 Ann Marie rated it did not like it
While I know this story is true as most of my childhood was arranged based on Stevens story, I felt it hollow and self involved...there were parts which were enlightening...areas where as a parent you thank the author for bringing things too their attention...I felt it read more like a television interview and for me it was dry and tasteless
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