Once upon a time, I earned a Master's Degree in Literature and was a Professor of Literature and Composition. I had a wonderful time writing my Master's Thesis about Children's and Young Adult Literature, and I considered earning a Ph.D. so that I could continue to pursue the written word, including British, American, Latin American and other Global Literatures, Children's and Young Adult Literature, all types of genres and occasionally even poetry. But life takes you in unexpected directions, and so now I am working for a non-profit agency (you can read about that on my other blog, A Little Bit of Wonder). Although my job keeps me too busy to post as many book reviews as I would like, Recommended Reading is a place where I can continue to share my literary discoveries and knowledge as time allows.

Please note that I post reviews for books that I recommend reading, just like the blog title says. This means that I typically won't post a review for a book that I completely dislike. This isn't because I shy away from making negative comments, but rather because I don't want to waste your time or mine (I won't even bother to finish a book if it's not any good). For more on this, see the explanation of my Rating System.)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Excerpt: The Sister Stars

I kept looking at the sky, not trusting myself to look back at you. There was a cluster of particularly bright stars, sinking down toward the horizon. They were like a small city made up of winking lights. A highway of bright stars led to them. You saw where I was looking.

“The sisters,” you said. “That’s what some folks call them.”


You sat up, surprised at my willingness to talk. “Those stars were beautiful women once,” you said.

“They were the first women on this land. As they walked though this country, trees and flowers sprouted up behind them; rocks emerged. A river soaked into their footsteps. But then, while the women were bathing in their river, a spirit man watched them. He decided he wanted to keep them as his wives. He chased after them and the women ran. They fled to the only place they thought was safe, the sky. They turned into stars. But he chased them up there, too, turning into a star himself, always following behind.”

You raised your arm and pointed out one of the brightest stars in the sky. “See? He’s there.” Then you traced a line between that star and the cluster of stars you called the sisters. “See it?” you asked. “He’s always there, following the sisters, chasing them eternally… but he never quite catches up.”

I shivered suddenly. “The sisters can never get away from him, then?”

“True.” You tucked my blanket tight around my shoulders. “But they’ll never be caught, either. He’s just behind them, always watching…wanting them. He chases them all around the world. You could have seen him chasing them in London, if you’d been looking.”

“You now you can’t see the stars in London, not really,” I said.

You flopped back down into the sand. “Maybe not. But he’s there all the same. Behind the clouds, behind the lights… watching.”

(Excerpt from Lucy Christopher’s novel Stolen, pages 231–233.)

This may seem like a scene from a romantic night on the beach, with the trappings of a typical YA Romance. But let me give you a little bit of context for this passage: this is a conversation between Gemma and her kidnapper Ty, a man who has stalked her for six or seven years, drugged her and forcibly taken her to his home in the Australian desert.

Knowing this, doesn’t their conversation take on a new dimension?

Oddly enough, Ty is a sympathetic character in Christopher’s novel. He has had a traumatic childhood and decided to kidnap Gemma because he believes that she is like him, that she would be much happier living out in the desert with him. In this passage, Ty is focused on the fact that the spirit man will never catch up with the three sisters; by this time, he has realized that Gemma is unhappy living in his captivity, and he is haunted by the idea that he will never fully possess her. He may have caught her, but he cannot truly keep her.

Meanwhile, Gemma is haunted by the idea that even if she can escape Ty’s home in the isolated Australian desert, she will never really escape him. He will always be there, behind her, chasing her. And although I have not read the entire novel yet (and therefore have no idea whether Gemma escapes or not), I suspect that will be true for her psychologically. She will always feel like Ty is following her, haunting her. It will be difficult for her to ever believe she is safe or free again.

I will be posting a full review of Lucy Christopher’s novel Stolen on the blog tomorrow.

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