A teen beaten down by peer bullying finds inner strength when she is abducted and held against her will.
Sarah has endured stares and teasing all her life due to the port-wine birthmark on her face. Despite her mother’s admonishments, she knows her outer appearance has defined her life. “Ugly people get ignored…if they’re lucky. And me, I get stares, taunts, or people going out of their way to pretend they don’t see me.” She has few close friends, and cosmetic treatments have been put off due to her parents’ financial difficulties. All of these concerns are swept away when she is abducted on her way home from school. Her captor is someone she and her family trusted, and the physical, mental and sexual abuse inflicted is designed to totally break her spirit. Told in first person by Sarah and Nick, a lonely boy from school who wants Sarah to see him as a friend, this story gives readers an intimate look at raw emotions. There is not much nuance here; both bullies and bad guy are quite one-dimensional. The sexual abuse and the violent past acts of Sarah’s captor are presented unflinchingly. The fairly simple style and quick action make this a good choice for reluctant readers.
Sarah’s determination to stay alive and escape will resonate with readers, and they will cheer her efforts to overcome her underdog status. (Thriller. 14 & up)