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Sunday, May 4, 2014

4.4 - Trapped
"The terrifying true story of a young girl's secret world of abuse."
The short sentence on the cover of the book caught my eye when I saw it displayed on the shelf of our local bookshop. The prologue and the blurb did their job and surprisingly, I was hooked after the first few sentences. Could it be that I had finally found another perfectly original outlier that will be able to surprise and fascinate me as all the amazingly written creative books I have read before?

Rosie Lewis, the author of "Trapped" (writing under a pseudonym) and a full-time foster carer, lives in northern England with her 11-year-old son Jamie and 14-year-old daughter Emily. In this book, she describes her encounter and the struggle of forming a relationship with Phoebe, a 9-year-old autistic girl. Phoebe Steadman is taken from her parents by the police after her teacher notices something strange and informs authorities that everything might not be as it seems in the Steadmans' household. The small malnourished girl with tangled brown hair is handed into Rosie's care shortly before the Easter Holidays in March 2009. Rosie and her family expect another traumatised frightened child lacking proper care and longing for a loving family and the safety of a proper home. Unfortunately, Phoebe turns out to be the exact opposite of the picture of a meek scared little girl Rosie had in mind. Phoebe is the perfect little devil: from inappropriate comments and throwing objects to threats to kill and self harm. The autistic 9-year-old manages to wreak havoc within the peaceful welcoming environment of Rosie's home and its inhabitants. At first, Rosie blames Phoebe's strange behaviour on her mental illness, but gradually she starts to uncover the disturbing truth hidden behind Phoebe's veil of alleged insanity...

I would be surprised if Ms. Lewis didn't have a secret interest in writing. The story, although having a somewhat predictable ending, is told in such a gripping way that I managed to finish the book within 24 hours. The author manages to build suspense with such ease, and surprise the reader with Phoebe's frightening out-of-the-blue burst outs at the same time, creating an atmosphere similar to that of a first-rate thriller. Even though I already suspected how this book would end, the author gave me many reasons to consider other options and suspect otherwise, later throwing me down and confirming my first suspicions. "Trapped" has evoked in me a range of different emotions: from anger to grief to joy, this book has it all. An amazing story told in an even more amazing way. Seriously, I haven't read something so good in a long time!

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