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Held

by Edeet Ravel

Seventeen-year-old Chloe Mills is in Greece on a summer volunteer work program when she is abducted by a couple who blindfold her, drug her, and take her by plane to another country. Worst case scenarios run through her mind: Will she be sold as a sex slave? Do they want to experiment on her? Kill her for her organs?

When she regains consciousness, Chloe finds herself in a makeshift apartment in an abandoned warehouse, where she is visited daily by a male captor who brings her food, books, even wine. She is surprised by his kindness, and disarmed by his good looks. As time goes by, Chloe increasingly comes to identify with her abductor. Although he reveals little about himself, not even his name, he does tell her he was once tortured as a political prisoner. Chloe, in a classic case of Stockholm Syndrome, begins to feel what she describes as “immeasurable love” for her captor and dreams up scenarios for how they can meet – and even marry – after she is finally released.

Guelph, Ontario’s Edeet Ravel once again proves herself an adept manipulator of difficult material. Particularly effective is her use of mocked-up newspaper clippings, Web pages, and Facebook-style social media posts to depict the events taking place back home during Chloe’s abduction. There are false sightings, nefarious rumours, and opportunists who attempt to capitalize on Chloe’s misfortune. Better still is the emotional and intellectual paradox the novel sets up: is Chloe’s abductor a master manipulator or the sympathetic victim of a tyrannical regime?

This is rich, thought-provoking stuff that would be excellent fodder for discussion and debate among older teens.