Author: Elizabeth Scott.
Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.
When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends — her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.
Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.
This is Alice’s story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget. (Published summary).
My own feelings are somewhat mixed. The first person narrative was well-done, pulling us into Alice’s life of monotony and fear: the repetition creates a feeling of inevitability and her often-unemotional descriptions show the reader how she’s been damaged and broken. If the purpose is to draw attention to a specific type of child abuse, this is an amazing work. (But otherwise, truth be told, it’s not the sort of book you’d read for pleasure or knowledge.)
Sexual Content: A pedophile has kidnapped a girl and keeps her in his apartment; almost all of the sexual instances are non-consensual, forced on her by him. They are very clear, but not detailed, and there are 16 total instances. Some examples: “Good,” he says, and lies on top of you. Heavy and pushing, always pushing. “Good girl, Alice. / […]kissing my cheek. Then he shoves me to my knees. When he’s finished, he throws the rest of my yogurt away. / “Love you too,” I say, but it is too late, and he holds me down, breathing hard and fast. “Show me,” he says. “Show me.” So I do./ The girl mentions that she’s realized, from his nightmares, that his mother used to rape him when he was young. Aftermath of her first rape – blood and pain.
Language: 4 Scatological terms, 2 derogatory terms, 4 F-words,
Violence: See Sexual Content for multiple instances of sexual violence. // Pedophile has kidnapped a girl and keeps her in his apartment; restricts her food to keep her tiny. / Character remembers her kidnapper holding her head in a sink of water until she nearly passed out, then pulling her out and slapping her. Girl knows that her kidnapper murdered a girl before her – she was found floating in the river (no further details). Man nearly strangles a girl. Man threatens to kill a girl’s family if she disobeys him. He hits the girl, shoves her around, multiple times. Stabs girl in the shoulder with a knife. One character shoots two other characters: the first accidentally and a non-fatal wound, the second time hitting his target in the head and killing him.
Other problems: One minor character is seen using unspecified drugs (pills).