Parents' Guide to

Jane Anonymous: A Novel

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Gripping, harrowing tale of captivity and recovery.

Jane Anonymous:  A Novel Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+

Splendid, well paced thriller chills even the most seasoned thriller fan

Laurie Faria Stolarz beautifully weaves the tale of the title character, Jane. Stolarz separates Jane's tale into two sections, then and now. Jane, the victim of a violent kidnapping, deals with realistic trauma after this event, which Stolarz portrays honestly, choosing not to gloss over anything, or invalidate Jane's feelings. The writing is clear, without being oversimplified. It is honest, without glamorizing or dramatizing either Jane's situation or emotions. As for possibly iffy content, Jane self-harms quite a bit, from scratching herself to stabbing herself with a fork. She swears a little bit, and there is SPOILER ALERT: an inferred assault. Also, some kids will be afraid they will be kidnapped after reading this, but really it all about maturity level.
age 14+

I’m enjoying it butttt....

This book does immediately capture your attention with shifts in timeline. The narrator goes between “then” and “now,” to express her experiences and emotions. It is thrilling and does depict real emotions on behalf of the teen, when it comes to the trauma and psychological torture she is put through while kidnapped. However, the major issues and skepticism I have stem from how her parents behave, due to her trauma. Her mom’s reactions, pressure, and expectations that Jane would immediately become “normal” again are completely incomprehensible to me. It feels as if the author wrote the mom this way only to fit the plot—not to actually attempt to match how a real parent would behave, had their child gone through something like Jane— in real life. To me, this book is contemporary YA fiction, with thriller/traumatic elements. I feel like the author did not consult appropriate psychological and mental health professional resources for the writing of this book. I’m not saying everything needs to be 100% accurate in other parts of the story— when it comes to the topic of a teen demonstrating severe PTSD, anxiety, and probably having many other mental health issues—you should also attempt to depict characters who react in more believable ways towards the trauma she has gone through. It’s so frustrating, to read something that seems believable when it comes to the main character—then, transitioning to a supporting cast who are more like caricatures, than realistically portrayed people who would behave very differently (I think) if their friend or daughter had been abducted for 10 months. I just want to go into the book and be like—you know she went through hell—your expectations for her to be “okay,” are completely UNREASONABLE, RIDICULOUS, and SELFISH. Okay, I’m done, read it if you’re looking for a quick, interesting read.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (3 ):

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."

Book Details

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