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reynje

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Wild Awake
Hilary T. Smith
Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
Bryan Peterson
Stolen: A Letter to My Captor - Lucy Christopher Every so often a book comes along that I have an intense, visceral reaction to. ‘Stolen’ is definitely one of those books. I read it rapidly, entangled in the narrative, and when I closed the book I felt like someone had just delivered a sound, steel-cap booted kick to my chest. I just sat there feeling winded, trying to come up with a word for exactly what I was experiencing. In the end, I’d say I felt bereft. Shaken, disturbed, yes, but also a strange yearning for something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Written in the form of a letter from 16 year old Gemma to her captor, Ty, ‘Stolen’ is a powerful book, recounting Gemma’s experiences as she is taken from Bangkok airport to the Australian outback. It is a testament to the skill of the author that as a reader you are compelled to run such a gamut of emotion, one that closely mirrors Gemma’s mental journey. Perhaps even to the point where you feel what Gemma feels as she, arguably and subject to your interpretation, develops Stockholm Syndrome. I found myself relating to and grieving for a person who committed a terrible act. Discovering empathy for a character who is deeply troubled and unstable. Treading the thin line between love and obsession. Sanity and insanity. Gentleness and evil. The story takes you through panic and fear. Anger. Hurt. Confusion. Denial. Revulsion. Compassion. Manipulation. Trust. Attraction.And then it flips all of that on its head and asks you to question everything you feel. Is it real? Or were you and the narrator manipulated? What is fitting justice for a criminal who’s strange and twisted logic you have almost come to understand? It is a complex, beautifully conceived novel that lingers long after the final page. I found myself thinking about the characters for days afterwards, and analysing my feelings about the ending. I also need to mention how much I adored Lucy Christopher’s use of the setting, her portrayal of the danger and unique beauty of the outback. Almost a character in its own right, Christopher really captured the vastness of the landscape, while also heightening the claustrophobic sense of isolation of being, literally, in the middle of nowhere.Of course, this won't be a story for everyone. It's troubling, challenging, but ultimately moving and thought provoking. A definite favourite.