Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her step-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? (Publisher's summary from Powell's Books)
While I love fantasy and especially the plethora of paranormal stories available in YA books, I am always up for a well-executed realistic fiction read too. Girl Stolen by April Henry is just such a read. Cheyenne’s story is terrifying, suspenseful, and scarily real primarily because of Henry’s brilliant characterization.
From the first moment Cheyenne realizes that someone has stolen her step-mom’s SUV, I began feeling the fear. Cheyenne is blind, which makes her an extremely vulnerable victim. Being inside her head, I was constantly amazed at her ability to use her blindness to her advantage. Even sighted I doubt I could have stayed rational given the initial situation Cheyenne faced. When you add to this the hopelessness of how kidnappings often goes badly for the victim, Cheyenne’s bravery and fight was inspiring.
The most surprising aspect of this story; however, was how sympathetic I felt towards Griffin, Cheyenne’s abductor. Griffin’s character is revealed to the reader and to Cheyenne through his interactions with her and his father. It becomes apparent that Griffin is a scarred young man both physically (he was burned in a meth lab explosion at a fairly young age), and internally (he believes his mother abandoned him, he is dyslexic, and a drop-out). Griffin’s life with his father, who is a duplicitous malfeasant, made it impossible not to see him as a victim too, and I could not help worry what would happen to him even as I feared for Cheyenne’s safety.
Henry knows how to build and maintain suspense. Trust me when I say that once you begin Girl Stolen you will be unable to put it down until you reach the end, which comes quickly and is not without some well placed twists and terrifying moments for both Cheyenne and Griffin.
If you are looking for an engrossing realistic fiction story, I highly recommend Girl Stolen, which is scheduled for release September 28, 2010. I know I will be buying a copy for my classroom and nominating it for placement on the 2011-2012 Book Battle list.
Source: ARC copy provided by We Love YA Tours