Book: Stained by Cheryl Rainfield, Blackstone Audio, October 2013
Book Info: Audiobook received for review from Audiobook Jukebox, Running time: 7 hrs, 44 mins. Read by: Emily Bauer and Kirby Heyborne. Also available in hardcover, 304 pages from HMH Books for Young Readers
Cheryl Rainfield’s Stained is the harrowing story of a girl bullied for her port wine stain, and her later abduction. This story of survival reads like a horror novel at times, and some of it is tough to take – but it inspires as well.
Sarah is sixteen and has dealt with cruel remarks about her port wine stain for as long as she remembers. All she wants is to look normal enough so that people don’t fixate on her appearance. She reads beauty and fashion magazines and compares herself to that ideal. Her parents promised a skin treatment that would make her dream come true, but due to a financial setback that is now off the table. Life goes from bad to worse when someone she thought was rescuing her from bullies abducts her. Drugged and blindfolded, she’s at the mercy of her captor, with seemingly no escape.
Sarah has more than her share of pain from the bullying she endures. The abduction is a whole other level of hell though. Sarah’s captivity is painstakingly detailed. Though her eyes are covered, Sarah is able to paint a picture of her prison and the torture she receives.
The reader gets insight into the situation back home through dual narration. Sarah’s friend from school, Nick, shares his POV. Nick has strong feelings for Sarah and helps her parents with the search. Sarah and Nick bonded over graphic novels and he wanted her to see him as more than a friend. Now that she’s been taken he’s desperate to get her back. Thinking about Nick during her captivity helps keep her sane.
Sarah knows she’s in a remote area and it’s up to her to stay strong and find a way out, even though it seems impossible. Sarah’s ordeal seems frighteningly real, and in fact is based partially on the author’s own experience. Her story is inspiring for anyone going through a tough life situation to find the strength they didn’t know they had. Her character grows a lot over the course of the book.
I listened to the audiobook, read by Emily Bauer and Kirby Heyborne. I’m familiar with both narrators, though my first experience with Bauer wasn’t the best (Enclave). At first I thought her narration was a little overdone and distracting, but I think it kind of matched Sarah’s circumstances at the beginning. As the story went on, I got more involved, and the narration didn’t bother me. Bauer brings intensity to the story through all the highs and lows and makes you feel Sarah’s desperation. Kirby Heyborne’s (Gone Girl, The Sea of Tranquility) voice is perfect for earnest Nick, and he brought emotional depth to the story. I was addicted to this audiobook and listened to it in one day so I could see Sarah’s story through to the end.
Cheryl Rainfield writes an inspiring story with realism and compassion and a great message. The third act of the book is impossible to put down and reads like a thriller. The hard-hitting story is hard to take at times though is a worthwhile read, and I’m interested in reading more from this author.
Stained is a YA Fiction Cybils nominee.
- Stained by Cheryl Rainfield (neverwearmatchingsox.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: Stained by Cheryl Rainfield (alotlikedreaming.wordpress.com)
- Stained by Cheryl Rainfield (caughtbetweenthepages.wordpress.com)