"It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him. This is my story. A letter from nowhere."
Stolen won a Printz honor back in 2011, but it just came onto my radar via USBBY. What is USBBY you ask? The United States Board on Books for Young People, it is our section of IBBY - the International Board on Books for Young People. USBBY publishes Bridges to Understanding, a series of annotated bibliographies. Doris Gebel, the former department head of Northport-East Northport's children's department, was the editor of the last edition, Crossing Boundaries With Children's Books.
For the last year, I've been annotating international children's and teen books for the latest edition, slated for publication in 2016. Hence my reading of Stolen.
This is a fast moving, tautly paced debut novel. Gemma is sixteen years old, and traveling with her parents through Bangkok airport, on their way back home to Britain. While buying a cup of coffee in the airport, she meets Ty - a handsome, mid twenties year old who steps in to help Gemma when she doesn't have correct change for her coffee. Polite and confident, he directs Gemma to a table while he takes the two coffees to the bar for milk and sugar, and where he discreetly drugs Gemma's cup.
Ty, it turns out, has been stalking Gemma - and not just at the airport. In fact, he has been planning for this moment for years, and he takes a drugged Gemma to an out of the way section of the airport, where she changes her clothing, puts a wig and glasses on, and follows Ty onto a plane before passing out.
When Gemma wakes up - groggy and disoriented, she discovers she is in a bedroom, literally in the middle of nowhere. Set in the Great Sandy Desert of the Australian Outback, Stolen will have you turning the pages at a rapid pace as you listen to Gemma's plight in her own words, as she creates a journal/letter of sorts detailing her ordeal.
Check out the official trailer for the book here.