Dear Reader, from April Henry
I make my living by stealing and killing – but it’s only on paper. A few years back, I was watching the local news. A 16-year-old girl was describing how a man stole her car when she was in the back seat and her mom had left the keys in the ignition. To top it all off – she was blind. I immediately thought – “I need to ‘steal’ that story!”
So I took it and made it my own and called it Girl, Stolen. Instead of the car thief insisting the girl get out a few blocks later (as he did in real life), I had him panic and keep my character, whom I named Cheyenne. I made the car thief a small-time criminal named Griffin. When Griffin brings Cheyenne home to his crooked father, his dad decides to hold her for ransom. Only Griffin begins to doubt that he will ever let her go.
So imagine you’re blind, kidnapped and held captive. What would you do? Could you escape? Even if it meant doing the unthinkable?
I had so much fun researching that book. I talked to a lot of people who are blind, and read a bunch of autobiographies. I even went to the Guide Dog School where I was blindfolded and given a harness and a dog and told to put the first on the second. I thought I was doing pretty well – until I went to pet the dog and realized I had put the harness on the hind end
It turns out that many people who have been blinded in accidents still have a little bit of blurry sight left on the periphery of their vision. I used to walk around my house with my hands over my eyes, leaving just a crack on the left side. It’s more disconcerting than it is useful.
Girl, Stolen is my tenth book – all mysteries and thrillers. I write some books for adults and some for teens, and have been lucky enough to be on the New York Times bestseller list. I love nothing better than putting my characters in a jam – and seeing how they get out of it.
- School Library Journal
“In April Henry’s suspenseful and well-researched Girl, Stolen, 16-year-old Cheyenne Wilder, resting in the backseat while her stepmother runs into the pharmacy to pick up her prescription, is not only suffering from pneumonia, but has been blind for the last three years. Is escape even possible for her? The spine-tingling chapters alternate between the teens’ perspectives as Griffin delivers both the vehicle and the girl to his cruel father, Roy. While Cheyenne plots to outwit her captors, flee Roy’s home in a remote wooded area and gather as much information as possible to turn over to police when (or if) she’s rescued, readers learn more about the accident that took Cheyenne’s mother and sight. And as Griffin, a high-school dropout with a troubled background and grief of his own, begins to see his surroundings in a whole new light, he wonders if he’s as much a bad guy as Roy and his accomplices, who are busy plotting how to use and dispose of Cheyenne. Perhaps Cheyenne is not the only victim in this escalating dilemma. Reminiscent of Gail Giles’ thrillers and tension-filled to the last sentence, Girl, Stolen will resonate with readers long after the cover is closed. With a thoughtful and eye-opening look at disabilities, it highlights Cheyenne and Griffin’s resourcefulness and resiliency as they save themselves – and possibly each other.”
“16-year-old Cheyenne is sick with pneumonia. Badder: while her mother runs into the pharmacy, a young man steals the car, not realizing that Cheyenne is in the backseat. Worst: getting out of this situation is going to be even harder than expected, because Cheyenne is blind. This constant one-upping of the threat level is what gives Henry’s thriller its hurtling, downhill velocity…. [T]he relationship between Cheyenne and the only kidnapper who is kind to her, a teen named Griffin , constitutes the novel’s central push and pull. Is there a genuine understanding and affection brewing between these two damaged teens? Or is this a case of Stockholm syndrome? Henry is particularly deft at portraying the vacillating level of trust between the two, and her research on living with blindness pays dividends in authenticity. … thoroughly exciting. - Booklist
“Girl Stolen by April Henry grabs your attention with the first page you read. The heroine’s innocent helplessness adds to the suspense. Upon learning of Cheyenne’s blindness, readers will become engrossed by her challenging situation. As the pages of the book are eagerly turned, one discovers a series of twists and turns. Each page holds new questions that are answered in the most unexpected ways. This book is a well-crafted suspense story.”
- VOYA, Angelina Barnard, Teen Reviewer
“A simple trip to the pharmacy turns Cheyenne Wilder’s life around. She is not feeling well and begs her stepmom to let her sleep in the back seat. It is warm and cozy, except for the fact the car is unlocked and the keys are in the ignition. Along comes Griffin, a small-time teen criminal. He steals the car, unaware that he has a passenger. Once Griffin discovers Cheyenne, he delivers her to the clutches of his greedy father and low-life associates. This crime thriller has several suspenseful twists. One is that Cheyenne is blind. How can she escape or identify her captors? She is being held in a remote wooded area and no longer has her cane or guide dog—she must utilize her sightless survivor skills. Another twist begins with Griffin’s dad, Roy. At first Roy is upset the accidentally kidnapped girl was brought home. From this simple chop-shop crime story, the plot evolves into a kidnapping scheme. With a $5 million price tag on Cheyenne’s head, the reader wonders if she will survive this harrowing ordeal. Who will come to her rescue? This novel is a worthy public and school library purchase featuring a brave visually-disabled female and a kindly, courteous male hero. It is not only a page-turning suspense, but this roller coaster read also reminds the teen reader that every action causes a reaction. Moreover, the author proves that brain power and kindness can triumph over brawn and brutality.”
- Starred review (5Q), VOYA, Madelene Rathbun
“This can’t-put-it-down crime thriller unfolds through the viewpoints of both victim and criminal. Sixteen-year-old Cheyenne, blinded in an accident that killed her mother three years earlier, has pneumonia. As she sleeps in the back of her stepmother’s car, Griffin steals it, inadvertently kidnapping her. Once Griffin ’s car-thief father learns she’s wealthy, he decides to demand ransom. When the hapless Griffin realizes his dad and cronies will kill the girl to protect their identities, he tries to protect her. Clearly, the author did extensive research on blindness and its challenges. Her realistic depiction of the coping strategies and the strengths developed by the blind greatly enhances the novel, lifting it above the level of a mere escapist thriller. Characterizations make an impact, with both Cheyenne and Griffin becoming quite appealing; much suspense revolves around Griffin ’s divided loyalties. The slightly ambiguous ending highlights Cheyenne ’s ambivalent feelings toward Griffin . Although Cheyenne ’s multiple problems might feel overdone in less skilled hands, Henry handles them deftly and makes her choices work. Constantly interesting and suspenseful.”