SPOILERS IN REVIEW
Disclaimer: I am making the basic assumption that people reading this review know the details of Stven Stayner's abduction and return after seven years.
I debated overnight on writing this review and finally decided to average the two main themes of my review. This book is a loving tribute from one friend to another. It is an admirable and worthy eulogy to a man who was taken from his family and friends (once by evil and once by God) too young. It serves a noble purpose and makes a sincere attempt to educate both parents and teens in preventing child abduction and child abuse. If that were the only criteria to base a review on, I would give it five stars.
Yet, it does a disservice to the reader. The author is very forthcoming in mentioning that this is a dramatization (also known as fictional) of actual events. It is the execution of the fiction that I find completely awful for the four reasons listed.
1) An adult reading this book will be able to discern truth from fiction and will be able to accept the creative license taken with thoughts, events and conversations. A teen reading this book may very well know what the words, "dramatization" and "fiction" mean, yet they may not have the ability to determine what is truth and what is invention.
2) There are unnessecary conversations, lines of dialogue and some events are just too descriptive. Example: At two separate times in the book, both Steven and Kay do not know the meaning of the word, 'Caucasian'. It was unnesseary the first time to have the segment of the police interview once, let alone twice. What purpose did it serve/
Example 2: I feel awful for saying this, but the 8th birthday of Ms. Carr was much too detailed.
3) The atrocious grammar and errors in spelling just can't be ignored. Example 1: "Ola, amigos" instead of "Hola, amigos." Example 2: 'Sacremento' instead of 'Sacramento' and Example 3: "Is Kay and Delbert home yet?' instead of "Are Kay and Delbert home yet?" Understandably the person uttering the line of dialogue may not be someone who uses the correct plural on a regular basis, but there is an obligation to the teen and tween reader to sometimes clean up errors. When I read errors like this I can't help but think there will be one child (or more) who will spell Sacramento wrong and be just as determined it is correctly spelled as Sacremento as another generation actually believes Jack Dawson sailed on the Titanic.
4) I felt the depiction of Cary Stayner was inappropriate. Cary was 19 years old when Steven returned and has admitted to the fact he was jealous of the attention Steven received. The lines written about 19 year old Cary smacked of the underlying anger society feels for him now and are sensationalistics. It panders to the lowest common denominator and just didn't belong in the book - even if those instances were factual.
Three final thoughts:
1) Ms. Carr and Mr. Laughter have written this book unselfishly. They didn't want fame or TV ratings. They wanted a book that did portray a Steven not as damaged as the Echols book or the miniseries. They obviously spent a lot of time interviewing people and put a lot of effort and heartfelt love into this book. For that, they should be applauded.
2) Since this is fiction and the audience to read it will be teens and tweens, I feel something very important is overlooked. Steven drank and smoke while underage. Steven used illegal drugs. Steven was promiscuous and had unprotected, consensual sex. As much as teenagers hate to be lectured to, it probably should have been addressed that these things are either illegal or have other consequences. I believe this could have been done without being overly "preachy."
3) This is imporatant for parents....if your child is sexually naive or you feel he/she does not have the concept defined of how an adult male will possibly seuxally abuse a young boy (and you are not prepared/ready to explain it to them), they are too young to read this book.