2011/2012 Feature Book of the Week #3
Girl Stolen by April Henry

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen--with her inside! Griffin hadn’t meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne’s father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there’s a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn’t know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price? (Publisher's summary from Goodreads)

A Confession about Girl, Stolen

I have a confession to make.  In the course of writing Girl, Stolen, I killed myself and blinded my teenage daughter.

Not literally, of course.

A couple of years ago, my daughter and I were walking down an unlit road when she noticed something almost magical.  Each car that came up behind us would throw our shadows ahead of us.  At first the shadows were long and thin, but as the cars got closer, our shadows grew shorter and thicker.  But that wasn’t the only thing.  “Look!” She pointed.  “Our shadows are walking backward.” 

And it was true.  (If you are ever in a similar situation, watch what happens to your shadow.)

At the time my daughter showed me our backward-walking shadows, I already knew I wanted to write a thriller about a blind girl who is kidnapped.  The idea was sparked by a story on our local news. A blind girl, who had gone out to dinner with her step parents, decided to stay in the car while they did some Christmas shopping. Her mom left the keys in the ignition.  A man saw the keys, jumped into the car, and drove off - and then realized there was a girl in the back seat.  Three blocks later, he forced her out.

But I thought:

What if the thief had kept her? 

And what if he was a also a teenager?

And what if his dad was running a chop shop? 

And what if they thought about letting her go - until they learned her family was rich?

But how had the girl become blind? I considered making her blind since birth, but decided it would be too difficult to portray accurately.  So my character would have to have been blind for only a few years.  But how had she lost her sight? 

And when my daughter showed me our shadows, I thought - What if one of these cars hit us?  And killed me? And threw my daughter into a signpost, leaving her blind?  And so that’s what happened to my character and her mother.

Don’t worry, my daughter is fine with this. She’s used to have a writer for a mother - one who sees not what is, but what if.


I grew up in a small Oregon town, and I still remember my mom teaching me with alphabet flash cards. White with a picture of an object on one side and a letter on the other, those cards glowed with magic.
When I was 12, I sent Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a short story about a frog named Herman who loved peanut butter. The day he received it, Dahl had lunch with the editor of an international children's magazine and read her the story. She contacted me and asked to publish it.

But as I got older, even though I read all the time, I didn't even dream of being a writer. It would have been like thinking I could fly by flapping my arms really, really hard. Then I got a hospital job with lots of down time and started thinking maybe I could try to write a book about the life and death that surrounded me every day.
That first book I wrote attracted no interest from agents. My second book got me an agent (and we're still together many years and many books later) and nice rejection letters from editors. My third book didn't even get nice rejection letters from editors. My fourth book sold in two days. It was a four-year overnight success.

Since then, I've written nearly a dozen mysteries and thrillers for teens and adults. The first in the Triple Threat Club series, co-written with Lis Wiehl, was on the New York Times bestseller list for four weeks. It was followed by Hand of Fate and Heart of Ice.

My first young adult novel, Shock Point was an ALA Quick Pick, a Top 10 Books for Teens nominee, a New York Library's Books for the Teen Age book, named to the Texas Tayshas list, and a finalist for Philadelphia's Young Readers Choice Award. It was followed by two more teen thrillers: Torched and Girl, Stolen. Girl, Stolen was an ALA Quick Pick and an ALA Best Books for Young Adults.
My books have been short-listed for the Agatha Award, the Anthony Award, and the Oregon Book Award, and chosen twice for Booksense by the independent booksellers of America. They have been translated into Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, German, Polish, and French.

Look for two new books 2012. In April, the fourth Triple Threat Club mystery, Eyes of Justice, will be out. And for teens, The Night She Disappeared, about a pizza delivery girl who goes out to make a delivery and doesn't come back, will be out in March. (Retrieved from author's web site)

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