In reading Girl, Stolen, I was reminded of two bits of pop culture: Excess Baggage and Wait Until Dark. The first film, a pretty terrible movie starring Alicia Silverstone and Antonio Banderas, tells the story of a poor little rich girl who, in an effort to get daddy's attention, fakes a kidnapping by locking herself in a car's trunk, only to have that car actually stolen. Then she cooks up a romance and a scheme with her accidental captor. Wait Until Dark, quite differently focuses on a blind woman, played by Audrey Hepburn who some thugs suspect of having a doll stuffed with drugs. She has to try to escape this situation with her life. Put these two together and you've sort of got Girl, Stolen.
Of course, comparing a book to other stories really limits it, so I want to stress that there's more going on here; in making these comparisons, I do not intend to imply that Henry's story is entirely derivative by any means. Henry did a marvelous job telling this story, keeping everything suspenseful and scary, but not venturing into melodramatic territory in the slightest. She does not try to make anything more difficult than it already is for the sake of extra drama.
So much YA that I've read, usually in the paranormal genre, centers on a heroine, gifted with supernatural powers that enable her to do absolutely anything, yet she still ends up relying on other people to save her. Your powers or your weaknesses are only what you allow them to be. Cheyenne has been blind since an accident three years ago damaged her brain, leaving her with functioning eyes but a mind unable to read the messages. Now almost entirely blind, she relies on her cane or her seeing eye dog, Phantom.
On the day in question, Cheyenne's step-mom convinced Cheyenne the dog should stay home, since they were not going very far. While her step-mother went into the pharmacy to get the antibiotics to treat Cheyenne's pneumonia, Cheyenne rested in the backseat. Then the car got stolen. Griffin had no idea she was in the car, but, once he got home to his piece of shit father, she becomes even more useful to them than the jacked Escalade. Cheyenne's father runs Nike corporation, and she can be ransomed for a lot of money.
In this situation, I cannot imagine I would be capable of anything other than some snarky comebacks and some seriously menacing death glares. Cheyenne, sick with pneumonia, running a fever, tiny, and blind never stops planning escapes. She is such an incredibly powerful character, able to make the best of any situation, and to use her strengths to best advantage. Where some heroines have endless amounts of power and don't use it, Cheyenne makes the most out of everything she has. I respect her so much, and Henry for writing a heroine with a disability and not making her pitiable, but a figure of strength.
Girl, Stolen weighs in at only 220 pages, but packs an emotional punch. Dark, scary, and investigating whether Griffin is a redeemable figure, I was sucked into this novel and not let go until I finished the last page. If you're tired of young adult fiction focused on romance and whiny heroines, Girl, Stolen is the perfect break.