Charlotte survived four long years as a prisoner in the attic of her kidnapper, sustained only by dreams of her loving family. The chance to escape suddenly arrives, and Charlotte fights her way to freedom. But an answered prayer turns into heartbreak. Losing her has torn her family apart. Her parents have divorced: Dad’s a glutton for fame, Mom drinks too much, and Charlotte’s twin is a zoned-out druggie.
Her father wants Charlotte write a book and go on a lecture tour, and her mom wants to keep her safe, a virtual prisoner in her own home. But Charlotte is obsessed with the other girl who was kidnapped, who never got a second chance at life–the girl who nobody but Charlotte believes really existed. Until she can get justice for that girl, even if she has to do it on her own, whatever the danger, Charlotte will never be free.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when reading this book, but I was definitely not disappointed. After being held captive for four years, Charlotte is finally rescued when her captor is hospitalized, and she is finally reunited with her family. Only, they’re not the family she remembers. Her parents are divorced, her sister is the opposite of how she used to be, and to top it off, her dad remarried and has another child.
Of course, the feels are obviously there for Charlotte as she realizes the truth of her family’s brokenness after she’d been taken. She can’t help but feel like if she hadn’t disappeared, her family would still be whole and she and her sister would be doing everything in their Dream Book as they planned. It was thinking of her family that helped her survive, and it was hard for her to adjust to everything being different. Not to mention the PTSD that she suffers after being rescued, which makes some of her adjusting a little harder.
For the most part, I just felt bad for Charlotte and her family, especially her twin sister. And even more so when we learn the other reason why Alex was upset about her sister’s kidnapping. Charlotte’s dad, however, he was a different story. At first I was annoyed by him as he was always trying to get Charlotte to do interviews and go on trips with him to be the ambassador for his foundation to find missing children. It’s a great cause, but you can tell he loved the spotlight a little too much. Then he went as far as to name his third child after Charlotte, which I get was supposed to be in Charlotte’s honor, but I think naming the baby the same as his elder child was going too far. The same honor could have been done with just using Charlotte as a middle name.
One aspect of the book that I admired was how clean it was for YA fiction, especially with a topic like this. Obviously, in her captivity, Charlotte was abused and raped, but it never went into detail like you might expect it to. Or even how her captor killed the previous girl – all we know is that she was killed, not how.
What really shocked me was that this novel had its own plot twists. I expect them from mysteries and thrillers, of course, but this book was pretty straightforward in that it would focus on Charlotte’s recovery, as well as her family’s, and figuring out who the girl before Charlotte was (or The One Before, as Charlotte refers to her). So I was surprised when there were other plot twists along with this story that gave the story more depth as well as the characters.
Overall, I completely recommend this book. It’s a change of pace no matter what genre you usually read, even if it’s contemporary, because the story is just so unique and moving.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars