Wow. I had been dying, I mean completely dying to get my hands on this book since I first heard about months and months ago. This right here is my ideal novel. Right up my alley and it did not disappoint. At all.
I remember when chat rooms and AIM where the cool things and people were talking to strangers from all over the world. I have never been the type of person who connects with people easily so thankfully I don't have a story about meeting someone in a chat room. But I know that I am in the minority there. But my best friend growing up did talk to a lot of people online. One guy I remember well because she gave him her address. He only ever sent her things and they would voice chat with each other. (These were the days before video chatting was standard. It was cool to be able to hear each other, we never in a million years would have thought we could see each other too) The reason I remember it so well is because this guy told my friend that he was from New Zealand and yet when we voice chatted with him he had no accent at all. Not even an accent that would make it seem like he was from a different part of the US. Now at the time I was 13 and thought nothing of it but now, and I brought this up with my friend and she agrees, it seems to us that he was most likely from somewhere close to us since we didn't hear even a hint of an accent in his voice. And I thank my lucky stars that he never came after my friend. He had her address. He easily could have. Let's face it, she was a lucky one.
Abby's story could easily be found on a survivor's message board online. If someone had handed this book to me with no idea of what it was I would think that it was a true story. Littman holds true to life in such a way that I walked away from the story hoping Abby was ok. She became real to me while reading the book and I connected very well with the character. I was a lot like Abby in high school. I didn't connect well with my peers. I am different from her in the way that it never bothered me that I was a misfit. If I had a little bit more Abby in me when I was 14 who knows. I may have wound up in a chat room talking to a stranger. That's the beauty and also the chilling truth about this novel. It could be anyone of us in her shoes. Even with the internet safety programs out there kids are still kids. They don't think it can happen to them. And predators are so good at what they do that they know how to be convincing and enticing to these minors. The one thing I liked about the book is that "Luke" didn't even pretend to be Abby's age. He came out and admitted right away that he was older. But he did it in a way that made her comfortable with the fact. And that is a way of earning the child's trust. Kids think "If he is a predator he would be pretending to be my age. He wouldn't admit to being so much older than me." And without knowing it they are playing right into the predator's hand. It's downright chilling to think how smart these people are.
This book belongs in every school library in the country. It belongs in classrooms and it needs to be featured in teen sections in libraries. Parents need to read it so they can be educated on this very real threat. The language is strong in this novel. But parents, please. Put that aside. Your teen needs to read this. I urge all parents of teens to buy this book for their child. You will not regret it.