It’s been a while since I read a novel featuring a blind protagonist. What with the holidays and busy work schedule and a TBR list that would take years to complete if I did nothing but read. But I promised to keep book reviews coming on this blog, and a short novel like “Girl, Stolen” seemed like a perfect place to get back into the swing of things.
By: April Henry
Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription for antibiotics. Before Cheyenne realizes what’s happening, their car is being stolen.
Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, but once his dad finds out that Cheyennes father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes – now there’s a reason to keep her.
How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare? Because she’s not only sick with pneumonia – she’s also blind.
Cheyenne Wilder is a young woman who went blind in the same accident that killed her mother. The author does a generally admirable job of making her neither helpless and dependent nor otherworldly capable. She’s plucky and resourceful in some ways, frustrated and angry in others. There are far too many instances where Cheyenne fills the role of “helpful educator” – far too many to just be lulling Griffin into a false sense of security – but there are also poignant depictions of grief, frustration, and fear.
Cheyenne’s pneumonia seems to add an additional complication, until it’s dropped for reasons unknown (it doesn’t seem to really affect her mental capacity). As a blind reader, though, I’m glad the author chose to make Cheyenne emotionally and nuanced, with an additional “strike against” thrown in for good measure.
Some Plot Holes
It’s clear that April Henry did a lot of research on blind people. The skills many blind people learn – orientation and mobility, computer usage, life skills – are touched on with fairly good accuracy (though I wonder at the likelihood of a wealthy family sending a recently blinded teenage girl to train for these skills with middle-aged men). The stages of denial, grief, and frustration are well-drawn, but Griffin seemed too gullible and Cheyenne too resourceful given her weakened physical state. Also, the “bad guys” (with the exception of griffin) are drawn as big, angry and/or unintelligent, which made it hard for me to take them seriously. Also, to major corporations have presidents? I thought they had CEOS.
There’s not a lot of heavy stuff in this book. In fact, there’s a lot more levity than expected. This is both a strength and a weakness. Most characters – human and canine – don’t act particularly believably in many spots, even while there are very poignant accurate portrayals.
It’s not a bad way to spend a few hours with Cheyenne and Griffin. Things tie up a little too neatly, but I found myself flipping through the pages. A little more research and less “education” might have made this a better read. But this reader found this book at just the right time.