Yesterday, I looked at the way Tim Wynne-Jones used the second person point of view narrative style for one of his main characters.
Today, STOLEN by Lucy Christopher. Actually, the entire title is STOLEN: A LETTER TO MY CAPTOR.
And that sums it up right there.
From goodreads: Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back? The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don’t exist – almost.
This is definitely a book to discuss! More than anything, this is one of those books that I am cursed to have read as a responsible adult – and parent. I know I would have had an entirely different experience reading this as a teen. If anyone has a teen book club with girls – I highly recommend reading and discussing this one.
The setting details are amazing. The evocative language shows a landscape which is beautiful yet frightening – just like Ty, the kidnapper. As a reader, I must admit that I too was at risk of falling victim to Stockholm Syndrome. But that darn responsible adult in me wouldn’t quite let go.
The use of “you” is interesting to consider. Because this story is a letter from Gemma to Ty, her captor, the “you” is obviously Ty. In the spirit of full disclosure, I recently started a new story using the letter idea – and addressing the recipient as “you” – so my thoughts on this may be more critical than some, simply because I am trying to understand why and how it can work.
The writing in STOLEN is lyrical and captivating – I was hooked right from the start. It felt very intimate and like I was getting the inside scoop. But, because the only two characters (well, the only two human characters – who knew a camel could be so endearing?), are Gemma and Ty – there are a LOT of “I s” and “you s” on the page. At times, it felt a bit cumbersome.
Even though the letter technique is close and intimate between the two characters – it is also kind of distancing to the reader. I felt very much like the outsider looking in. But for this particular situation, this perspective feels a little safer somehow – we know Gemma survives since she’s writing the letter from the future – I see how this could be good for teens. This knowledge lessens the tension – something to consider if trying to use this as a writing technique.
Another great letter story is RULES OF SURVIVAL by Nancy Werlin.
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK