Author: Lucy Christopher
Publisher: Chicken House
Published: May 04, 2009
Buy: The Book Depository
“You saw me before I saw you. In the airport, that day in August, you had that look in your eyes, as though you wanted something from me, as though you’d wanted it for a long time.”
Thankfully, I still have the ability to type. Ask for my thoughts in spoken words and you’ll receive incoherent mumbling, gulping sobs, and maybe the occasional wistful sigh. It’s complicated, my relationship with this book. It doesn’t make sense to even me. I am overwhelmed, exhausted even, but completely thrilled to have experienced this incredible piece of work.
Stolen, for those who have yet to read this, is a simple story of kidnapping, of being taken. It’s Gemma’s letter to her captor, Ty, nothing more and nothing less. Never did I expect such a straightforward premise to hold such depth; never did I expect to cry for these characters in the early hours of the morning. Lucy Christopher’s writing is subtly beautiful, it’s writing that manages to be intense and powerful without smothering the reader. She takes her simple idea and does wonders with it, easing under my skin and invading my every thought. This book, everything about this book, will haunt me now for months to come, years even, and I will gladly let it.
The Australian desert serves as a backdrop for this story, gently emphasising the situation. It’s a scarily beautiful place, with its dry, hot sand, its snakes and camels, and its silence for miles and miles. It plays such a spectacular role in this book. It makes Ty who he is. It makes Ty the wild, lonely man who will effortlessly race across the sand to capture Gemma every time she tries to escape. It makes him the nature-conscious boy who will talk to the stars and appreciate the beauty of the rocks. It makes him a contradiction, constantly, but one that is enigmatic and alluring, and quite frightening too. It is easy to be in Gemma’s shoes, to feel what she is feeling and to also agree with it. It is much harder to maintain a healthy distance from this story, to be nothing more than an impartial observer.
Stolen, of course, touches on Stockholm syndrome, a psychological occurrence that has always perplexed me. Having previously been nothing more than distantly aware of cases where this syndrome has taken effect, I wasn’t at all prepared to be lured in myself. A part of me didn’t even believe it could happen. The point at which Ty transformed into the misunderstood, troubled character I wanted to desperately help is not clear to me. There is no easy way to distinguish the before and after, no easy way to determine the good and the bad. All I know is that I was compelled by his vulnerability, his love for the natural land, his artistic pursuits – just as much as Gemma was.
“It’s hard to hate someone once you understand them. It felt so mixed up.”
It’s thought-provoking, in a very quiet way. It makes you wonder how it’s possible to truly judge what’s right and what’s wrong. I wholeheartedly cared for these characters and wanted a happy ending, as illogical as that might have been. I felt for Gemma, I felt for Ty, I even felt for the camel tied up outside. There were a number of destinations this story could have travelled to and all of them would have crushed me in some way, but I’m just glad Christopher did not take the easy approach. The ending, the part that I dreaded the most, it was perfect.
Though, having said that, I cried myself to sleep afterwards. I still have a few tears left to shed, too.
Rating: 5 stars