Review: Girl, Stolen by April Henry
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.( Sept. 2010)
Hardcover: 224 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating: 4 Stars
SYNOPSIS (From Goodreads): Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen--with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price?
MY THOUGHTS: I really adored Girl, Stolen. This is the first book that I've read from April Henry and I had been looking forward to reading it for a while and it did not disappoint. The story is well thought out, smart, fast-paced, with suspense and action, and a twist towards the end. And with the added strain of a teenage girl’s blindness and pneumonia, this accidental kidnapping is unlike any other I’ve read, so it definitely peaked my interest. It is fresh and original.
The characters are believable, with Cheyenne being my favorite. I liked how despite her handicap of being blind and sick, she is not portrayed as weak and helpless. The author focuses more on Cheyenne’s strengths than her weaknesses and utilizes them to the fullest extent. Don’t underestimate her. In fact, she is quite an extraordinary, remarkable, and brave young girl. The amount of strength and fight in her to try to survive this ordeal is just incredible and inspiring. Even though this is just a work of fiction, it still gives you a testament of what a blind person is capable of overcoming when faced with obstacles. Cheyenne never gives up hope. Her intelligence as well as her methodical planning and strategic ingenuity make up for her blindness. Cheyenne finds the strongest weapon in the most unlikely place - through communication - which I thought was interesting. But she also uses her handicap to her advantage, trying to evoke sympathy, in hopes of gaining some leverage in her situation. So she really leaves no stone unturned.
Griffin, the teenage boy who accidentally kidnaps Cheyenne when he steals her stepmom’s car, is another character who, while I shouldn’t like him because he is one of the bad guys, kind of grew on me once I got to learn more about him, as his damaged layers were slowly peeled back as you read through the book. He is torn between doing what’s right and doing what his father expects of him, so his vulnerability is easily visible. The book does a great job of detailing the internal conflicts and thoughts of the kidnappers. For me the story was just as much about Griffin as it was about Cheyenne. I felt that it was just as important to try to “free” Griffin as it was to free Cheyenne. There are certain parallels in their lives that allow for them to relate - or seemingly so - which you have to decide, is it a genuine connection or a strategic one? You’ll have to make up your own mind about this if you read this book.
I found myself caring about what happened to the characters. And I was rooting for Cheyenne the whole time. The exciting part about reading this book is that it’s unpredictable - to me at least - because it could go either way, good or bad. I didn’t know what was going to happen next, which made the journey more thrilling and suspenseful.
Money is such a powerful incentive for some of the captors that they are willing to selfishly hold Cheyenne for ransom despite never being kidnappers before. Even though Cheyenne is literally the blind one, for me it felt like her captors were also “blind,” being blinded by money. You get to see the extent to which some people will go for money and how greed can affect some people in a negative way by clouding and overpowering rational reasoning and good judgement in the weak-minded. The book has a lot of underlying depth, dealing with themes and issues of peer pressure, morality, trust, the handicapped, overcoming obstacles, courage, and hope.
While there is definitely some tension throughout the book, I wish there had been a little more conflict between Cheyenne and her captors. But this is understandable as her captors were not natural kidnappers. I also wish the story would have taken place over a longer period of time, as it only spanned a few days. It would have allowed for the story to not feel so rushed towards the end. And the search for Cheyenne isn’t highlighted as much as I would have liked, only briefly mentioned in the book. But overall, I was very impressed and satisfied with the book. The plot is solid from beginning to end. I highly recommend everyone to read this book!