Author: Lucy Christopher
Pages: 299 [Hardcover]
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc
Release Date: May 1, 2010
Gemma, 16, is on layover at Bangkok Airport, en route with her parents to a vacation in Vietnam. She steps away for just a second, to get a cup of coffee. Ty - rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar - pays for Gemma's drink. And drugs it. They talk. Their hands touch. And before Gemma knows what's happening, Ty takes her. Steals her away. The unknowing object of a long obsession, Gemma has been kidnapped by her stalker and brought to the desolate Australian Outback. Stolen is her gripping story of survival, of how she has to come to terms with her living nightmare - or die trying to fight it.
I think that quote sums up how I felt reading this book. Ty, an amazingly attractive man, steals Gemma away from her family at the Bangkok airport, and manages to bring her to his secluded home in the desert of Australia. After the initial drugging, Ty does nothing to purposely harm her, but I (and Gemma) kept waiting for him to snap. Throughout their time together we see Ty be sweet and try his hardest to make Gemma comfortable with him, but there was always this feeling of instability right under the surface. It's obvious something's not right with him, but at the same time I found myself sympathizing with him as he tells Gemma about his past. How much of that story is true, I don't know, but it was effective at drawing us in.
While I went into this expecting a tale of Stockholm Syndrome, it turned out differently than I thought it would. I was expecting something more extreme, similar to the adult novel Comfort Food, but instead Gemma's feelings towards Ty seemed much more subtle. I actually liked this quite a lot. We get little glimpses of her trusting him, and wanting him near her, but it isn't until they're apart when she actually acknowledges those feeling. Even then she knows it's wrong, but you can't help what you feel.
I actually made myself a little uncomfortable by wanting Gemma to love Ty. It was obvious how much he wanted her to, and he did everything to try to make her see the beauty of the desert and the type of life they could have together. Whether this was his genuine feelings, or something brought on by madness, I don't know, but I did feel like she should have given it a chance. Of course, the desert has its own plans...
This was a very powerful novel. It's full of a whole range of emotions from tender sweetness, to discomfort, to anger, to longing. It basically covers it all during Gemma's time with Ty and in the aftermath. The letter format added an extra layer of intensity and intimacy that wouldn't have been there if this was written any other way. There's also a lot of beautiful descriptions of the desert. I've always been fascinated by Australia, so I loved how alive the author made the desert feel on the pages.
The ending of this is a bit open. I would have loved to see more of what Gemma was feeling after the trial, and what happened to Ty.
"You took me to the sand and the heat, the dirt and isolation. And you expected me to love you. And that's the hardest part. Because I did, or at least, I loved something out there."