The Rusty Key's Reviews > Girl, Stolen

Girl, Stolen by April Henry
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Oct 26, 2010

really liked it

Reviewed by Rusty Key Writer: Jordan B. Nielsen

Recommended for: Both girls and boys, aged 13 and Up. The narrative is split between a male and female character, and its highly suspenseful central plot will make it appealing to both genders.

One Word Summary: Raw


Visceral, harrowing and engrossing, this slender, micro-focused work is strung taught as a trembling violin string.

Set in a frozen Portland, Oregon, ‘Girl Stolen’ tells the story of sixteen-year-old Cheyenne, and Griffin, the teenage boy who would become her captor. As Cheyenne dozed in the backseat of the car while her stepmother ran into the drug store to fill Cheyenne’s antibiotics prescription for her pneumonia, Griffin sees the expensive, driverless car, sitting there with the ignition running as a sterling opportunity to impress his nefarious father. It’s only after he tears out of the parking that he realizes he’s not only just become a car thief, but a kidnaper as well. Initially panicked that he’s now in possession of a fighting, flailing, sick girl bent on clawing him to pieces, when Griffin realizes that Cheyenne is actually blind, and thereby unable to identify him, the situation turns in his favor.

While it may be Griffin’s intention to drop his accidental hostage in a field somewhere, his dad, Roy and his band of cronies have other ideas, particularly when they learn that Cheyenne is the daughter of a wealthy CEO. Griffin then stands at a crossroads: will he side with his father, watching the murder of the innocent girl he’s beginning to bond with, or will he risk his life to help Cheyenne to freedom?

Just grazing the concept Stockholm Syndrome (the condition under which kidnap victims fall in love with or find deep empathy and trust in their captors) but mercifully dancing away from a blunt, overwrought depiction of it, Girl Stolen creates a believable relationship between its two main characters that readers will cling to like a life raft through the perilous twists and turns of this absorbing nightmare.

Most effecting is the way in which April Henry debilitates the senses of the reader by showing us this world through Cheyenne’s unseeing eyes. Life is likely frightening enough without the use of your eyes, but when placed in a survival situation, in an unfamiliar environment, and without the ability to even know who’s in the room with you or what lays outside of the house you’re trying to flee, well the result is terrifying and disorienting to say the least. But Cheyenne is anything but helpless. Her finely honed remaining faculties give her an acuity of perception that Roy and his thugs fail to anticipate, and her uncompromising drive to survive makes her a danger to those who hold her.

The plot is occasionally bogged down by lengthy explanations of a blind person’s world: how they learn to interact with obstacles around them, methods of navigation, the stereotyping they face, and other procedural descriptions that ring a little didactic. But they do serve as a momentary reprieve from all the tension, and the anecdotes are occasionally quite interesting and something I hadn’t previously considered.

With a climax that invokes (but doesn’t replicate) that paralyzing night-vision sequence at the end of ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ when you know the killer can see Jodi Foster, but Jodi Foster sees only total blackness as she gropes her way through an unfamiliar house, ‘Girl Stolen’ makes fine use of its conceit, delivering a fast paced, nail biter of a read.

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