Sixteen-year-old Sarah Meadows longs for "normal." Born with a port wine stain covering half her face, all her life she’s been plagued by stares, giggles, bullying, and disgust. But when she’s abducted on the way home from school, Sarah is forced to uncover the courage she never knew she had, become a hero rather than a victim, and learn to look beyond her face to find the beauty and strength she has inside. It’s that—or succumb to a killer.
I may have mentioned once or twice that I love Cheryl Rainfield's books (Parallel Visions and Scars). I just think she's a phenomenal author, who isn't getting enough recognition in the mainstream YA market.
But that's okay. She's as she will tell you, writing the books that she needed as a teen and couldn't find. Probably because no one was willing to be that blunt and honest, and well...real...about really tough topics.
This is the story of Sarah, told from both her and her friend Nick's point of view. Sarah isn't popular. She is, unfortunately, the subject of ridicule because of a large port win stain on her face. She's supposed to start treatments to lighten it significantly, but that's not going to happen now.
Nick's been in love with Sarah for years, yet Sarah has never seen it (really, who could love her the way she is and besides...it's Nick.). Nick turns out to be not only Sarah's rock, but a strong support for her family while she is missing.
When she's abducted, Sarah becomes the strongest teenager I've read about in any work of fiction. She is starved, raped, tortured (mentally and psychologically), and left to save herself...because her abductor is the last person any one would suspect. She, very literally, must become her own hero. And she does it beautifully.
Cheryl takes characters and drops them in situations that it would be so much easier to give in to, to give up in. In a very real, and amazing way, they flourish instead. They blossom into being not only more than we could expect, but more than they ever imagined they could be--because the alternative is unmentionable.
This book is a "thriller" and intense read. I read it in a sitting (much to my puppy dogs' chagrin since I ignored them) and was haunted for several days. In the end, there is hope and inspiration--just like I imagine we could easily take from Cheryl Rainfield's life story.
****BY THE WAY--This post is part of a blog tour, check out what others have to say about Stained .
ALSO...I've got a GIVE AWAY! If you comment here, you'll get eBooks of Cheryl's books Hunted, Parallel Visions, and Scars. If you share or tweet this post, I'll throw your name in the hat an additional time--just mention it with a link in your comment.