Hope you like your stories twisted because that's simply the best way to describe Stolen, Lucy Christopher's award-winning 2010 debut novel. The book centers around the kidnapping of a teenage girl, her eccentric captor, Ty, and the psychological consequences of her captivity in the wilderness (and we do mean wilderness) of Australia. It's a dramatic tale of not only survival and rescue but the complex relationship the main character, Gemma, develops with her abductor.
We know what you're thinking: What could possibly be complex about the relationship between a teenager and the guy who kidnaps her? Ty drugs Gemma at the airport, goes through an elaborate plan to get her to Australia, and then forces her to live with him in a creepy house he built in the middle of nowhere. Oh, and just in case this isn't already weird enough for you, it gets worse: He's actually been stalking Gemma for years. In other words, Gemma has every right to totally hate Ty's guts and hope a piano falls from the sky and lands on him.
But she doesn't. Or, not completely. To be clear, we here at Shmoop do not advocate child imprisonment or kidnapping—what this guy does is at least 10,000 shades of wrong. Still, as Gemma learns the details of Ty's life and background, he goes from looking like a straight-up bad guy to someone with whom it isn't totally ridiculous to empathize … despite holding a girl hostage in the middle of the desert.
See what we mean? Stolen is twisted. That's also what makes it so interesting: It takes what seems like a pretty cut and dry, good versus evil premise and totally forces readers to go deep, examining our own presumptions and encouraging us to recognize shared humanity even in the most uncomfortable of circumstances. If this has you feeling a little freaked out, fear not. Christopher is such a good guide that Stolen was a Printz Honor Book in 2011. So, you're in good hands.
Now, let's get twisted.
If you've never been kidnapped and held hostage in the desert, why should you care about Gemma's story? Easy. You may not know her particular struggle, but we're willing to bet you've probably had one of your own challenging situations to overcome.
Maybe you feel isolated in your school community, without many people to relate to or befriend. Maybe you come from a difficult home situation or work an after-school job in which you feel trapped. All of a sudden, Gemma's core feelings of desperation, anger, and even fear become a lot less distant, don't they? Everyone feels overwhelmed and powerless at some point in life, trapped in unfriendly terrain they can't see a way out of.
We don't care if you're in suburbia, the big city, or the wilderness—when it comes down to it, Stolen is a story about coping with tough circumstances until you can find a way out or a way to change them. And that's something we all can relate to. For your sake, we hope you can find an escape route that doesn't involve getting bit by a snake and that the stakes of whatever trials and tribulations you face aren't quite as high as Gemma's. Fingers crossed.
Swing by Lucy's House
Check out Lucy Christopher's author website, complete with reviews, info about her other books, and much more.
Check out Chicken House's page on Christopher. Guess what? She wrote Stolen as part of getting her Ph.D.
Thank You, Thank You Very Much
Read the text of Christopher's acceptance speech for the Michael L. Printz Award for young-adult fiction.
Lucy Christopher Is Off Hiking With Poisonous Snakes, BRB
Christopher talks with Figment about her unique research process for writing Stolen.
Teen Reads Interview
Interview with Teen Reads about Stockholm syndrome, Ty's mental state, and the role of setting in the book.
Lucy Christopher's Terrifying Side
A video interview with RT Book Reviews, where Christopher talks about the scary side of her book, its themes, and its setting.
A fan-made book trailer for Stolen. What do you think?
Creating Character Voices
Lucy Christopher talks about creating the dynamic character voices of Gemma and Ty.
Listen to a clip from the audiobook for Stolen.
Stolen Fan Art
Stolen has inspired fans to create their own depictions of the story. Here's one example.
Stolen Book Cover
Cover for the first publication of Stolen.