i was in a minor state of depression after reading this book. it only took me an hour to read, and for about an hour after i was lamenting having read it...but not in a this book was horrible' way, but more in appreciation of the horror.
we have all heard about those sick cases where some pedophile man abducts a young girl and has his way with her, whether it was an adult warning you as a child or a story in the news, we all know it exists, and if you heard about it in the news you know that it's more than a ghost story. this book is told from the perspective of a girl who was taken and who has had to live with her captor for 5 years while he raped, starved and abused her every day for that five years. the book isn't very graphic as to the details of these events, but the reader knows what's going on.
the telling of the story is very distant and choppy and the story sporadically alternates between the present, the past, and the girl's thoughts, which effectively allows the reader to loose track of the days as well as to get a sense of the state of mind the girl is in as she tells you her story.
i don't know if this story is based on real life events or if this character was just imagined, but by reading this i could better understand how a person could be convinced to stay in such a circumstance. typically when confronted with a case like this you ask yourself 'why didn't she just leave? why would she stay in that situation and not try to escape?' and more terrifying, you think that in a similar situation you would never act the victim, but the way this story is presented allows the reader to sympathize with the girl's position, and not just take note of the suffering she's undergone. there's one part where the girl is watching a talk show with people who had undergone abuse on it. the host asks the woman why she stayed with whoever was abusing her and the audience all yells that she should have done something about it and the woman nervously concedes the point. at this the girl points out to the readers that the woman is still the broken shell of a person she was when she was being abused because she meekly gives the audience what they want (as she most likely gave in to whoever abused her) and says that yes she probably should have done something. the audience yells out to the girl because they can see that she is weak and that they are in a position of power, and would not want that power taken away so almost blame the woman for what happened to her. that part of the book is where i think the author is speaking directly to the reader, telling you to reassess your initial impressions because these people who have undergone this abuse do not think like you do while you're sitting on your couch casually passing judgements on how these people could have avoided this abuse (as if it was their fault) ... and yet, even though you are not undergoing the severity of abuse that this person has suffered, you too play with whatever power you have at the expense of others in order to ensure your own comfort. and this sentiment is found throughout story.
as for the plot itself i won't go into too much detail as you probably can guess they story before you read it.. it's a living nightmare we all know. the story begins after approximately five years of this girl's captivity, though she reminisces for you every now and again so that you know how she got to be where she is. her captor's name is ray and he named her alice. he had an abusive childhood himself so is sort of messed up and wants alice to be an eternal child, therefore he starves her. he also sleeps with her almost every night. when this first happened in the book i was sort of taken aback because i didn't think the story would go that way.. or at least not so suddenly, but alice was very calm, her recount of the events in the story always sound sort of calm because she's grown accustomed to her situation. that is not to say that she likes her situation, many times she tells us how she's tried to suffocate or drown herself or how she wishes for death, she hates where she is, but has come to know it as her reality. an odd testament to the resilience of human beings.
i've always been somewhat critical of girls who pay too much attention to their looks and to boys and such, but after reading this, that's exactly what i wanted this girl to become. a girl just like every other girl who has nothing more important to worry about than her hair or her nail polish. what she could have become if she hadn't been abducted.
this book hooked me from the first page, and thank goodness it was only 100 something pages because once you start reading it you have to get to the ending. overall this was a thought provoking book about the power relations you have with others, what 'power' actually is and the potential effect exerting that power over others might have. this story was like an emotional bludgeon. it will leave you wanting more while making you wish you knew less. a horrifying journey through the life and thoughts of a girl who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.