Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2008
Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.
When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.
This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
This book has been both challenged and banned for being "inappropriate". Disturbing? Yes. Inappropriate for teen readers? No. Yes, this book is graphic; everything about it is just wrong, but these types of things happen in real life and just because we don't want to acknowledge them doesn't mean they aren't. Perhaps a teen who had read this at a point in life where he or she can relate to the protagonist, won't turn a blind eye later on in life if they come across a child who is in a situation that is "not quite right". Actually, I think the part of this book that I found most disturbing was not the despicable actions the abuser (although they were BEYOND disturbing), but the utter lack of initiative on the parts of the adult bystanders who knew something wrong was happening to this girl, but did NOTHING about it. This book was horrifying and it was not one I enjoyed reading, but it was well done and it wasn't sugarcoated. One challenger did so because it had an "unsatisfactory ending". I don't want to spoil here, but these type of stories don't usually have satisfactory endings. This story was gritty, raw, and entirely realistic; I honestly don't know how Elizabeth Scott was able to write it so well. I rate it highly because of how well it is done and how engaging it is, but for the record, I hated this book every minute I was reading it. My stomach stayed in knots the entire time because all I could think about was, "This could be my daughter.".
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Grade Level Recommendation: On one level I say that this is a high school book. It is very complex despite it's small page count. It is graphic and horrifying. On another level I think to myself that if the protagonist had read this at 11, when she was abducted, she probably would not have been. I can't really make a call on this one. Like many of these books on sensitive topics, I feel that the parent should read it first, and decide when the right time for their kid to read it is. For my kids, I lean toward 8th or 9th grade.
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