A teenage boy must piece his past together after discovering he was kidnapped as a child.
Landon Starker seems like just another troubled teen—more concerned with getting high than attending class, prone to badmouthing his teachers and even bullying fellow students. Landon knows he’s not like his peers, but what he doesn’t know is that he is actually Tyler Roberts, who was abducted years ago by his “father” Bob Starker, an abusive man who has used the boy for his perversions. When Landon is arrested, his fingerprints pop up in the Ameritek ID database and the FBI raids Bob’s house, freeing Landon and throwing him into a new world where he’s expected not only to reunite with a family he no longer remembers, but to confront long-repressed memories. Hester’s impressive debut novel is an intelligent, readable affair, tackling difficult and shocking subject matter with sensitivity, never resorting to the voyeuristic sensationalism that has become the norm when portraying abuse. Intensely methodical, the book accurately represents coping with trauma, with no magic bullets or easy answers, and presents breakthroughs and setbacks realistically. Some will find the author’s pace plodding, even frustrating, but this serves to believably depict the slow crawl to recovery. The novel’s tone alternates between clinical and simplistic, working best when it finds the middle ground linking the two styles. This is most notably on display in its natural-sounding dialogue that cleverly shows the discrepancy between one’s feelings and actions. Hester maintains a commitment to realism, and waivers only once, during a climactic court scene where a little creative license is not only forgivable, but welcome.
Teaches and informs while remaining a compelling, nonexploitative read.