Reaction Upon Reading: Absolutely heartbreaking!
“Some stories won’t have a happy ending, but there’s always hope that the next one will. Hope is everything. Even when there’s nothing else. Especially when there’s nothing else.”
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.
“My Keeper took everything from me: my home, my family, my voice. He made me powerless. But I’m home now. It may be split in two, but I have it back. My family may be broken, but I have it back. I have my voice back. I am not powerless anymore.”
I freaking loved this book. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse or sadistically twisted, something else was added into the mix. What I loved most was seeing Charlotte overcome all of these tragedies.
Charlotte is extremely brave and strong. Kept captive for years by her keeper in a cage in his attic. She is subjected to daily sexual abuse and the one time she tried to escape, she was hurt beyond repair. Once Charlotte is rescued and safely at home, she realises the perfect world (that kept her sane and alive) has changed dramatically and everyone in her family has suffered beyond what she ever could have imagined.
She doesn’t recognise her sister at all. Lex was such a hard character to like. Her motives and behaviours seemed so irrational and an extreme contrast of the person Charlotte remembered. Her long black hair has been replaced with short blonde spikes and her once pretty faced has been marred with piercings. Lex is angry at the world for Charlotte’s disappearance and we even see some of that anger directed towards Charlotte as she confronts her on more than one occasion, as to why she willingly left with her keeper. It isn’t until much later in the book that we discover the true reason Lex is so angry. I was shocked at this discovery and immediately connected with Lex as I could understanding and sympathise with the guilt she must have felt. I just don’t know why she never told her parents?! Lex’s saving grace is beneath it all she has Charlotte’s back and will do anything to keep her safe.
My heart goes out to all the characters in this book. Charlotte’s mother completely fall apart turning to alcohol to numb the loss of both of her daughter. Charlotte’s twin went completely off the rails, how could she be happy when her twin was ‘dead’? Charlotte’s father poured all his love into keeping Charlotte’s memory alive and in the process lost his family…and worst of all they are so disconnected from one another they can’t see how much they missed out on.
The twists just kept coming! I felt like my jaw was on the floor for the last 1/3 of the book as everything was being unraveled. Surely this girl had suffered enough?! When the resolution was reached I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. This book allows someone, like me, who has never known anyone to endure this to get an understanding that the pain and torture doesn’t end when you get home. What struck me most was even the ‘safest’ of situations can feel like you’re back in that ‘place’ all over again.
What I loved the most was how this book focused on the ‘feelings’ of the kidnapping. Charlotte endured horrific sexual and physical abuse but the author doesn’t give us too many of the gory details. The focus is on the aftermath (duh it is the name of the book after all). I am just pleased and impressed with how well this story was told…and don’t even get me started on the cover. It is genius! You would pick this up thinking it was some happy story – and in a way the ending is satisfying enough for you to be left happy. The meaning behind the cover is beautiful. I love how you just wouldn’t know it, until the end.
I feel like this is a book that everyone would interpret differently and therefore affect them in different ways. It is powerful, moving and raw!