Stolen: A letter to my captor
Gemma, like most sixteen year olds, doesn’t always get along with her parents. In the Bangkok airport, she’s seeking temporary solace from them at a coffee shop when a handsome stranger buys her a cup of coffee. When she wakes up in isolated house in the desolate Australian Outback, that cup of coffee is the last thing she can remember. The handsome stranger, Ty, has stolen her away from her family to live with him in the middle of nowhere. He’s chosen her; he loves her. Gemma tries desperately to escape, but the wilderness of the Outback is impenetrable. Trapped alone with Ty, hundreds of miles from civilization, can his patience and love wear her down? Will she come to love him back?
I think that Stolen might be my favorite of this year’s Printz winners (to be fair, I haven’t read Revolver yet). It’s written as a letter from Gemma to Ty, and Christopher does an amazing job of putting the character inside Gemma’s head. I felt her desperation, fear and confusion. I’ve heard people describe this as a book about Stockholm syndrome (a psychological condition when the kidnapped come to identify with their captors). I don’t want to be to spoiler-y, but I will say that I find that a pat way of describing the strange and complex relationship between Gemma and Ty. I didn’t want to like Ty, but I found it impossible to see him as only a villain – that ambiguity is the heart of what makes this book great.
The other really awesome thing about this book is the setting. Christopher makes the Outback seems beautiful yet terrifying – I’ve never wanted to visit a place that also seemed so horrible. The desert is the book’s third main character. The way Ty and Gemma relate to the land plays an important role in the story and figures strongly into the way they relate to each other.
Definitely recommended for its beautiful, evocative descriptions and for the way it sticks with you, leaving you to ponder the characters long after you’ve finished it.