Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stained (ARC) by Cheryl Rainfield

In this heart-wrenching and suspenseful teen thriller, sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for "normal." Born with a port-wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It’s that—or succumb to a killer.

Vivid. Violent. Heartbreaking. Those are the first words that came to mind as I put this book down after the final page.  It's a story about survival, but it's also so much more than that.   Cheryl Rainfield is an incredible and honest author, she's not afraid to include the dark and gritty side of life in her work. This was a book that I stayed up all night to finish, because once I started was simply impossible for me to put it down. Cheryl pulled me into Sarah’s world and the story never wavered in keeping my attention. My emotions were raw and they felt completely exposed by Cheryl’s incredible storytelling. Sarah was a stronger character than I ever could have imagined, despite, or maybe because of, her experiences as she was held captive. Be warned, those that may be faint of heart, Cheryl was incredibly bold in her narrative; giving explicit details to the violations Sarah experienced.  This book was so real to me, in spite of the fact that I have been lucky enough to have never experienced anything like Sarah did. It felt like these things were happening to me, and I just couldn’t get my head out of this book.

Sarah is a wonderful person, and is willing to stand up for others, but when it comes to herself she just doesn’t believe she’s worth the effort. And when her appointment for facial treatments is cancelled, she believes her whole world is crumbling down.  She pushes herself further away from everyone and lives for the comic book characters she secretly writes.   Despite really liking a guy at school who shares her love of comic books, she pushes him away because being seen with him will only draw more attention to her. When she is kidnapped and abused by someone she once thought she could trust, her whole viewpoint is changed. Her kidnapper constantly plays mind games with her: telling her no one is looking for her, and it is her fault for playing the “victim” all the time. He even goes so far as to say her parents never really loved her, but Sarah refuses to believe that. Her days are spent imagining what her comic book character “Diamond” would do, or how she would run into her parents arms if only they would come crashing through the door. But after four months, the hope of rescue looks bleak and unimaginable. And just when all seems lost, Sarah is forced to decide whether she will live and be her own hero...or die and become just another statistic.

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