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Review: Stained by Cheryl Rainfield

Title: Stained
Author: Cheryl Rainfield
Year Published: 2014

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 294
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2014 Google Reading map): Canada

FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school library

Summary (from the inside flap of the book):  Seventeen-year-old Sarah Meadows covers the walls of her bedroom with images of beautiful faces she clips from magazine--and longs for "normal." Born with a port-wine stain covering half her face, all her life she's been plagues by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. Why can't she be like Diamond, the comic book hero she created? Diamond would never let the insults in. That's harder for Sarah.

But when she's abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had. Can she look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside, somehow becoming a hero rather than a victim? It's the only way Sarah will have any chance of escaping the prison--both seen and unseen--that this deranged killer has placed around her.

Review: Holy moly! What a book; I was on the edge of my seat through the whole thing. As a mom, this is my nightmare: my child taken from me and put through a horrific experience. I kept telling myself that the narrator is the girl so she must survive, right? She finds her inner strength to get away from this guy, right? Her family or the police catch him so he can't come after her, right?

And what the heck is with all these people who stare at her and bully her?! Just for a birthmark on her face? I did think that part was overdone, that people aren't that mean, but then I realized that they (we) are and that there are kids in particular who go through life dodging the taunts every day. I know that bullying is at the forefront of the news these days, but perhaps that's only because it is so pervasive in kids' lives. The author did a great job at looking at how bullying affects the victim (and shows that you don't have to think of yourself as a victim).

The psychological aspect of the abduction and imprisonment was intense. The abductor played to all of Sarah's insecurities about family and friends, to bend her resolve and break her. In my head I kept telling Sarah not to believe him, to know her family loved her, but I could also see how clever he was at manipulation.

I am a reader who really likes the author's acknowledgments and afterwords. I want to know where the ideas for a book came from and who helped the author make the book a success (did they consult police, hospitals, victims, etc?). The author, Cheryl Rainfield, consulted a great source for this book: herself! She was bullied, abused, experienced incest,  and was abducted, which just made this book feel even more powerful. To learn more about the author's experience, go to the blog on her website. This is a link to her post about the shooting in my town of Santa Barbara where she discusses some of her experiences. I am definitely going to read her two other books, Hunted and Scarred.

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