This review is up late I know, I apologize.
Author: Clara Kensie
Pub. Date: November 1st, 2016
Publisher: Merit Press
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Charlotte survived four long years as a prisoner in the attic of her kidnapper, sustained only by dreams of her loving family. The chance to escape suddenly arrives, and Charlotte fights her way to freedom. But an answered prayer turns into heartbreak. Losing her has torn her family apart. Her parents have divorced: Dad’s a glutton for fame, Mom drinks too much, and Charlotte’s twin is a zoned-out druggie. Her father wants Charlotte write a book and go on a lecture tour, and her mom wants to keep her safe, a virtual prisoner in her own home. But Charlotte is obsessed with the other girl who was kidnapped, who never got a second chance at life–the girl who nobody but Charlotte believes really existed. Until she can get justice for that girl, even if she has to do it on her own, whatever the danger, Charlotte will never be free.
This is a rich, realistic tale about facing horrors and surviving through the darkness planted in your mind. I was hooked from the beginning, intrigued by the tone and voice of our young character Charlotte as she struggles with her life stuck in a cage, who copes with remembering the days before she was taken, and the fantasies of how she hopes her family is now without her. Brilliant and simply written, the dark horrors are hinted upon and expanded, but in a way that doesn’t horrify you so much that you give up on learning such important information. This is a point of view you want to read from, with innocence entwined with the helplessness that comes from being in Charlotte’s situation.
Charlotte is deeply haunted by what transpired in the time she was with her keeper, and this is evident as she struggles with the reality of freedom now that she is no longer captive. She is a very strong, very brave character. She has breakdowns, which allow us to see her anger as she smashes things, and she has those incredibly strong moments where she’s offering to visit her keeper for information on The One Before. Her strength, thoughtfulness, and utter devotion to finding out what happened to the other girl, makes this a very intriguing and heartfelt tale that sticks with you long after you’e finished reading it.
Alexia, or Lex as she called herself, is less developed. I found her to be the destroyer and the protector, but with no real personality. She did what Charlotte eventually realized she would do too. They are reflections of each other, and Lex is blurred as Charlotte is the focus. Sure, Lex enjoys wearing black, ripped clothing; she likes to torment herself; she blames herself. But that’s because she’s haunted, much like Charlotte is. And once that went away… she was similar to another character, Bailey.
This is richly written, and the author blended innocence and darkness perfectly. The surprises were well built up and played out wonderfully. Child-like innocence mixes with the forced maturity that comes from being abused, and it makes for a great tone to let the story flow.
This book is one I definitely recommend.