Friday, August 19, 2011


Having just read Emma Donoghue's Room, I found myself reading another abduction story. In Dayna Hester's Speaking Truths, Landon, the narrator, is a teenager in a hoodie who cuts classes and feels like an outsider. His arrest after a drug deal ironically changes everything for the better. His fingerprints match up with that of a child abducted 8 years before, and now we know why he privately calls his abusive father "Bob." Though not well-adjusted by any means, Landon has managed to adapt to his situation, so much so that the reunion with his parents is uncomfortable, to say the least. They're no saints, either, but we come to realize that in many ways, even with their annoying quirks, they are just what Landon needs. His emotional trauma is so severe that he doesn't remember his abduction and at first doubts that it actually took place, since Bob has convinced him that Landon's parents abandoned him at a shelter. Gradually Landon's memories surface, sometimes at inopportune moments. Thus we get a very clear picture of his mixed feelings about Bob, as both abuser and protector. Another irony is that the second half of the book focuses largely on a trial. However, it is not Bob's trial, since he confesses to the kidnapping, but Landon's trial, because Bob has implicated him in the murder of K.C., another boy that was Bob's captive. The author ratchets up the suspense as we eagerly await Bob's intimidating presence in the courtroom and anticipate Landon's reaction, as well as the outcome. This was the only aspect of the book that I found to be a stretch. Would our justice system really go after a kidnap victim for a crime that was committed while he was 11 years old? Landon certainly is no Patty Hearst. I guess if there's a murder victim, there needs to be someone to blame, but Landon is the real victim here.

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