By Lucy Christopher

From Goodreads: Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back? The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don’t exist – almost.

Why it’s my type: I chose to pick this up to see what I’d been missing. But in a very specific kind of way. I’d written a rough story once, during school, about a girl being stolen by a man who had watched her for years. Sound familiar? I’d had a single image come to me of a girl waking up in a bed not her own and not knowing where she is. I thought the story was a solid idea, however, for various reasons it didn’t work. This story works. And here’s why: the letter format. With the letter format, Gemma is able to be specific about things without it seeming superfluous. She is able to have had the time to think about circumstances, to better work out scenes and conversations, her feelings, and everything else.

The book teems with enviable description–most especially of the bare Australian land into which Gemma is thrust. I could have never expected to have had so much trouble putting down a book that features only two characters and endless sand. But the sense of place is just undeniably captivating and meaningful.

Gemma’s struggles are rough, disgusting, terrifying. Christopher doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the nitty gritty stuff. And even though it’s sometimes difficult to read, it only helps you more fully identify with what Gemma’s gone through.

Recommendation: OK so I had one other reason for picking this one up. The talented Maggie Stiefvater had only good things to say about it. She said in her recommendation that there are no easy answers with this one, and I totally agree–and am glad.

Standout Script: “I turned away from you and ran straight into the pond. I let the water cover me as I sank down, down into the cold, dark deepness, and my hair got tangled up and caught in the weeds.”

“For the past couple of days, the air had felt alive, clinging to my ears like it was trying to get inside and pressing its heat against me. I wondered, sometimes, if I stood outside with my arms open wide and waited, whether the air would press me all the way back home.”

“I pressed on the accelerator again, and you started running beside the car, still grasping on to the mirror. You pulled at it, as if you thought you could stop the whole vehicle with just your strength. I put my foot flat to the floor. That was enough. With a shout, you tumbled back into the dirt, leaving the side mirror hanging by some wires, bashing against the car. I heard you screaming behind me, your voice hoarse and desperate. And then there was wide, open space in front of me.”

Published: 2009 by Chicken House Ltd.


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