I read because I must. It's like breathing to me. And I love talking about books. But I'm also an Arsenal fan, a wine drinker, a music lover and weirdly obsessed with pop culture. I mostly blog about books, but sometimes about things I'm thinking or doing. When I'm not on the blog, I'm scoping deals for a professional services company, hanging out with friends, or seeing some live theater.
What happens when you realize you are in a living hell? When you think you’ve survived the worst thing that can happen, only to learn there are things far more insidious that you must endure? How do you put your life back together after everything that defined you is taken away? Is there a point when you play into a twisted game to protect someone you care about, or even yourself?
I devoured this book. I started it at 7:30 on Thursday evening, stayed up way too late reading it into the early hours of Friday morning, and finished it over lunch Friday afternoon. Could not put it down.
Told through sessions with a therapist, Still Missing reveals Annie O’Sullivan’s story. An up-and-coming real estate agent, Annie is kidnapped one evening as she is wrapping up an open house. Held for a year by a man she calls simply The Freak, Annie endures physical and psychological torture at the hands of this madman. After her eventual escape (no spoilers here, you can get this level of detail from the book jacket), Annie struggles to readjust to her life of freedom. The police are still investigating The Freak’s true identity, yet little things keep happening that make Annie think the nightmare might still be going on.
As Annie tells her story to her therapist, you can sense her anger and lingering fear. I found my own heart speeding up when Annie described her fear and confusion at her abduction. Let’s face it, most of us don’t have experience here. We only know what we’ve seen on TV dramas and movies. We don’t really know what we can endure, and how we would handle it, until we’re in the situation. The Freak is manipulative, exploiting Annie’s fears to gain her compliance. I found myself wondering what I would do in a similar situation. I’m not sure I’m as strong as this character.
Stevens throws in a twist to Annie’s story that I didn’t see coming. The ending has garnered the most discussion in the Amazon reviews. I liked the twist- and there’s a lot I could say on it but it would be a major spoiler and I don’t want to do that.
The mark of a good storyteller, and likely something every author wants on some level, is the creation of a story that lingers even after the last word is read. Stevens has done that in Still Missing. There were a few scenes describing Annie’s captivity that had me double checking the locks on the doors and making sure I had set the alarm. Some of the psychological torture Stevens describes really got to me, as it is the kind of things that make up my nightmares. But I liked that the story drew me in this much.
This story has stayed with me since I finished it, making me think about a lot of things. I have a new respect for Jaycee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart. As a public, we consumed their stories, but we don’t know anything about them, not really. Fortunately, most of us will never understand what they have been through. And we’re in no place to criticize how they made it through, and how they are surviving now. I hope they have a friend like Annie’s friend Christina- someone to give them a little tough love, but who is there for them unconditionally. Someone they can’t push away, no matter how hard they try.
And I also wonder at my own actions. I’m generally a friendly person. I smile at strangers. I’m careful, but I don’t look at people as a potential threat to me. Annie was like that before her abduction. Makes me wonder a bit if I shouldn’t be so unassuming.
Stevens’ debut work has me looking forward to what she has to say in future works. Highly recommend.