"After Hazen Wood kidnaps twelve-year-old Gemma Sullivan, the two embark upon a cross-country journey that tests the limits of Gemma's endurance. In scenes of physical and sexual violence, Hazen tries to destroy the young girl's will. When she does manage to escape he drags her back and threatens to have her arrested for the violent acts he performs. It is only Gemma's resi...moreAfter Hazen Wood kidnaps twelve-year-old Gemma Sullivan, the two embark upon a cross-country journey that tests the limits of Gemma's endurance. In scenes of physical and sexual violence, Hazen tries to destroy the young girl's will. When she does manage to escape he drags her back and threatens to have her arrested for the violent acts he performs. It is only Gemma's resilience and fertile imagination that protects her from the worst of the trauma she suffers. And, in the end, it is the healing power of unconditional love that gives Gemma the courage to speak out against her abuser at last and claim the life she deserves.
Alternating between the voices of Gemma and Hazen Wood, Meg Tilly has brilliantly brought to life powerful and unforgettable characters that will leave you thinking about them long after you turn the last page."
Characters: Gemma's voice lacked the realism I was looking for. In parts she seemed to emotionally mature and is others she seemed a lot younger than twelve. It was still really interesting reading about her experiences with sexual abuse as she went through them. I wish Hazen had been more fleshed out like Ray in Living Dead Girl. His POV detracted from the novel. Gemma is a fabulous kid and it's heartbreaking to see not only that she is going through this horrific event, but that she treats it like it's normal. I did like how the relationship between Gemma's mother and herself was illustrated. There are a few side characters who are better fleshed out than the two narrators. 3 and a half flowers.
Writing: Tilly just doesn't seem to get it. I know she has had her own experiences with sexual abuse but there is no depth that I have found in books like Living Dead Girl about pedophilia. There are graphic rape scenes, but the voice seems hollow more than raw. 3 flowers.
Plot: The beginning arch confused me slightly but after that the plot was a succession of punch after punch. It's an emotionally difficult book, to be sure. Even now I can't decide if I'm content or dissatisfied with the last hundred pages. 4 flowers.
End: I was waiting for the kind of hard hitting but emotionally uplifting ending I've gotten with several YA "issue books". The ending just reminds me of bad children books. I honestly can't imagine it ending any other way, but the writing left me shaking my head. It's validating as a reader yet upsetting as a reviewer. It's highly possible I'm the only reader of Gemma who thinks the ending needed a bigger point of validation and emotional loss. 3 flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: A little cliche but gets the point across. 3 flowers.
Cover: Usually I'd hate a cover like this. Instead, I enjoy the accurate vulnerability displayed within it. 5 flowers.
Overall: It was difficult to read, to be sure. For me, it lacked the truth I was craving. 3 and a half flowers.