“Then let me go.” Her voice was low and hoarse. She took a deep breath and then started to cough, a deep, racking sound. She kept her head turned away, but still little flecks of spit landed on him. When she spoke again, it was in a whisper. “Please, please, just let me go. I won’t tell anyone.”
Even Griffin wasn’t that dumb. “I’m sorry, but do you think I really believe that? By the end of the day, my description would be handed out to every cop and broadcast on every radio station in town.”
A strange expression played across her face, the ghost of a smile. In the cold, the engine ticked as it cooled. “But I won’t be able to tell them anything. Did you notice that I’m blind?”
(from Girl, Stolen, page 8 in the ARC; finished version may be different)
Cheyenne Wilder and Griffin Sawyer come from two very different worlds. Cheyenne is the daughter of a corporate executive, while Griffin’s dad runs a vehicle chop shop and encourages his son to steal packages from cars in mall parking lots and sell the goods for cash. It is on one of these excursions that Griffin and Cheyenne come face to face in an impulsive move that will change their lives forever.
Griffin comes across a seemingly abandoned Cadillac Escalade with the keys in the ignition. As he drives away with the car, he discovers Cheyenne, sick with pneumonia, lying on the back seat under a blanket, where she had been waiting while her stepmom went to fill her prescription. Griffin realizes right away that he’s made a mistake and is in over his head; he’s too scared to let her go, and fearing the wrath of his abusive father, he’s scared of bringing her home.
When Cheyenne tells him that she is blind, having lost her sight in the accident that killed her mother three years ago when she was just 13, Griffin thinks it will be easy just to let her go. But when his father finds out that her father is the president of Nike, he thinks holding her for ransom could be the answer to all their troubles. What no one expects is that Cheyenne is prepared to fight to the death and that Griffin will want to protect her.
Girl, Stolen is a fast-paced novel for young adults, and at just over 200 pages, I was able to finish it in a day. April Henry tells the story from the alternating viewpoints of Cheyenne and Griffin, giving readers a glimpse of what each of them is thinking and feeling as the chaos unfolds and making the connection between the two more believable. Cheyenne is a strong young woman who has overcome so much and become independent despite her loss of sight. Henry doesn’t sugar-coat Cheyenne’s disability, but she does a good job showing how it can be used to Cheyenne’s advantage given that it has made her pay more attention to her other senses. Henry also doesn’t gloss over Griffin’s wrongdoings, but it’s not hard to sympathize with him once his father comes into the picture. He’s been dealt a bad hand, but something about Cheyenne and how she deals with being held hostage in the middle of nowhere without being able to see her captors and the danger in front of her changes him.
Although Girl, Stolen was entertaining for the most part, it’s not a perfect book. Henry does a great job showing how Cheyenne navigates her new life without sight, but the explanations of how she eats her food or walks with a guide dog and Griffin’s explanations of VIN numbers and his father’s illegal operation got to be a bit much. The characters were defining terms and talking about things in such a way as to educate the reader, which interrupted the flow. However, I can forgive this knowing that the book was written for a younger audience. Moreover, the ending felt rushed, with the action stopping abruptly and the final chapter summing things up through exposition and a phone call.
I would recommend Girl, Stolen for readers 12 and up, as there is a little violence and talk about rape, though nothing is graphic. Girl, Stolen has action, drama, and a strong heroine, and it could be useful in showing younger readers how a disability doesn’t have to prevent someone from living a full life. However, as an adult, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as other young adult novels I’ve read.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Girl, Stolen from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group via Shelf Awareness. (Yup, I’m working my way through a backlog of review books.) I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.
© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.