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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Jane Anonymous is a novel about Jane, a high-school senior who's kidnapped by a stalker and held in isolation in a small, basement room for seven months. During the abduction, Jane is grabbed and drugged to unconsciousness. There's very little directly narrated violence, but there's a lot of fear, psychological torment, and blood and pain from escape attempts mentioned. Jane also engages in self-harm a few times during both captivity and her recovery afterward. There are hints from a dream that she may have been sexually assaulted or worse, but she isn't sure if the dream is based on real events or not. Strong language is rare but includes "bitch," "f--king," and "s--t." Some romantic feelings are described along with holding hands and kissing fingers. There's some advice about what to do if someone's trying to kidnap you, if you're being transported against your will, and if you're held captive.
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What's the story?
Moving back and forth in time, JANE ANONYMOUS tells how a teen named Jane was abducted and held captive for seven months, escaped, and shows what she did during her recovery to readjust to "normal" life. It explores the psychological trauma of being confined in isolation, and her feelings afterward that she's permanently broken and that things will never be the same again. During her long captivity, the only thing keeping her sane was contact through a very small hole in the floor with Mason, another captive exploring air vents and ductwork for means of escape. Jane and Mason grow close as the months drag on. But when he stops visiting, Jane has to make her escape on her own. In the weeks afterward, Jane never gives up trying to find Mason, but he seems to have disappeared without a trace. Can Jane face the truth about her experience, and even if she can, will that help heal everything inside her that feels broken now?
Is it any good?
This novel about kidnapping, captivity, and recovery is harrowing and riveting with a narrator so believable you may have to remind yourself that it is, in fact, a novel. Notes from Jane Anonymous at the beginning and end of the book add to that sense of realism. Author Laurie Faria Stolarz manages to keep the suspense building and the pages turning in Jane Anonymous as she moves back and forth in time, even though you already know how things turn out. Readers will relate to Jane as they try to put the pieces together right along with her. A few characters almost defy belief, and some readers may be frustrated by some vagueness that's never resolved.
Although there's very little violence that's directly described, and no gore, there are mature themes like self-harm, psychological trauma, and suspicions of sexual violence. Sensitive readers may need reminding that these types of incidents are extremely rare and encouragement to learn techniques to keep themselves safe. It ends on a hopeful but realistic note without feeling forced into a false "happily ever after."
Talk to your kids about ...
How does Jane Anonymous show Jane's character strengths and weaknesses? Do you like her? Sympathize with her?
Is psychological violence different from physical violence? How, or why not? Is reading about it different from seeing it in videos, games, or movies?
What did you learn about what to do if someone tries to take you away? What else could you do? Look online or go to the library to learn more specifics about how to handle dangerous situations.
- Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Wednesday Books
- Publication date: January 7, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 13 - 18
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: January 29, 2020
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