Jul 25, 2010

IBBMP 2010 REVIEW #1 : Still Missing

Chevy Stevens

  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312595670
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312595678
  • ARC: 342 pages
  • Source: received it from Lenore
  • My rating: 5/5
Summary (Amazon) :
On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.
Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.
Still Missing is that rare debut find--a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted debut novel. 

All I want to say about this novel is DROP WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING AND GO...RUN....GET A COPY OF THIS BOOK!  I rarely cry over books (sure, some give you misty eyes and that "aw" feeling), but after I've read the final line of this novel, I cried like a baby for all the mixed feelings it spawned in me.

The story of her abduction and captivity is told by Annie herself in form of sessions with her therapist. We never get to hear the therapist, though; one of the first rules Annie sets is that there are no questions like "How do you feel about that?" The POV works miracles to the proximity of the story which would probably be very cliche- like if it weren't for Annie's hurting and strong voice. She talks about the time spent with The Freak in a mountain cabin, repeated raping and molesting, and the aftermath of her escape. Annie learns to live again, struggles to get used to freedom and regaining trust in people. The big twist is a very movie-like moment, as seen in many TV dramas. I wasn't so happy about that part, but then again, Stevens offers near-perfect psychological insight to make even that twist seem kind of logical. 

(While we're at it, there's no doubt someone will pick it up for movie adaptation. It makes a great movie script.)

The saddest aspect of the novel is Annie's pregnancy, childbirth and (short) motherhood. Stevens' writing is already touching and powerful, so you can imagine what an impact everything child-related in this novel had on me, being a mom myself. It's the last sentence that reveals her name which Annie never said out loud, and believe me, there's no way you will keep your cool when you hear it. When I read it, I wanted to go back to the beginning and read the whole novel again.

Still Missing is easy to read, but very powerful and moving. It's hard to believe that it's a debut; the voice is crystal-clear and the writing great. I'm already looking forward to Stevens' second novel, Never Knowing (coming summer 2011). I found this great article about Chevy Stevens which goes to show what everyone who read this novel already know--that's she's a star in the ascendant.

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