Book Review: Stolen by Lucy Christopher

A debut YA novel that is exceptional in so many ways. When Gemma is kidnapped while traveling with her parents, she is swept from England to the Australian outback by a man who has stalked her for years. The novel is written as an extensive letter crafted by Gemma to her kidnapper, and is especially thoughtful, poignant, and compelling perhaps because of the letter’s sharp and cutting intimacy.
Although Gemma first hates both her kidnapper Ty and the outback, she slowly warms to both. Part of this is through the wearing down of her defenses that are so typical among kidnap victims (even the narrative discusses the Stockholm effect wherein victims begin to identify with their captors). More importantly, though, this wearing away comes from Gemma’s reflections on her situation and her own past.
The outback offers beauty to those who look. I know this personally because I spent six months camping alone in the outback; as a woman, everyone thought I was crazy or bold to the point of suicidal. But the journey was spiritual, and much of Gemma’s journey resonates with my own lessons.
Too, Gemma considers how she never really appreciated her parents or their love when she had everything. Stripped away from them, she recognizes that she was blind to what they had to offer. As she explores both the beauty of the outback and the very real pain Ty suffered before he began to stalk her, she matures in a way few people will unless they too suffer intense trauma.
This novel has much to offer. From the way it is written to the storyline itself, it’s well worth the time for YA and adult readers alike.
5 stars!
For more on the outback and its depth, try Message Stick, a novel that won two national awards, or Seven Sisters: Spiritual Messages from Aboriginal Australia, which pairs Aboriginal dreamtime tales with essays on what these ancient stories can teach modern people.


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