Jane Anonymous is a raw and gripping story of a young girl trying to untangle her mind and her life after she is held in captivity for 7 months. While some thriller fans may see the twists coming, Stolarz still keeps the plot tight and the emotions taut.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
While this book was originally sent to me by Wednesday Books (I did not request it), I read the novel on my own, via audiobook from my library. This review is based on the audiobook, but I felt it pertinent to mention the way I obtained a physical copy. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed below are 100% my own and not influenced in any way.
Author: Laurie Faria Stolarz
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: January 7, 2020
Synopsis: Seven months.
That’s how long I was kept captive.
Locked in a room with a bed, refrigerator, and adjoining bathroom, I was instructed to eat, bathe, and behave. I received meals, laundered clothes, and toiletries through a cat door, never knowing if it was day or night. The last time I saw the face of my abductor was when he dragged me fighting from the trunk of his car. And when I finally escaped, I prayed I’d never see him again.
Now that I’m home, my parents and friends want everything to be like it was before I left. But they don’t understand that dining out and shopping trips can’t heal what’s broken inside me. I barely leave my bedroom. Therapists are clueless and condescending. So I start my own form of therapy—but writing about my experience awakens uncomfortable memories, ones that should’ve stayed buried. How far will I have to go to uncover the truth of what happened—and will it break me forever?
I don’t read many thrillers. It’s not that I dislike them, I just can’t read them very often because my brain will start to yell at me. And when Wednesday Books sent me a surprise copy of Jane Anonymous by Laurie Faria Stolarz, I was not in the right headspace to read the book. Honestly, I’m glad I waited to read the novel, because I was able to read it via audiobook from my library. And let me tell you…the audiobook is the way to go with this one.
The narrator, Emily Bauer, brought this tense and chilling story to life in a way that many narrators cannot achieve. You can feel the terror in her voice, hear the ragged exhaustion and the simmering frustration at her life after captivity. The audiobook adds such a layer of depth to the story and I am so happy I experienced it this way.
As for the actual novel, Stolarz crafts a good thriller and a harrowing experience. We get to live through Jane in the past and her present, before and after her kidnapping. Stolarz is able to balance the jumps in time expertly and I never felt confused about where I was in time. While there were fluctuations in tension going from past to present, I was never not absorbed by the story. I tend to multitask while listening to audiobooks and I constantly found myself stopping what I was doing and just listening.
If you read a lot of thrillers, you could probably see the twist coming. And while I figured out the twist early, I never once stopped being enraptured with the story. Stolarz held command over the plot and her characters. I think that the exploration of the after effects of the kidnapping and trauma were well executed for the most part. It’s hard, because everyone processes trauma differently and some will find the execution done well and some won’t. As someone who experiences anxiety and panic attacks, I think the portrayal was accurate, especially the way people in Jane’s life acted.
This is a hard book. It was never going to be an easy read, and I feel weird to say it, but I really enjoyed the story. I never felt like the scenarios being played out on the page were done for shock value. Stolarz was able to delicately craft a very gritty and realistic story, and that’s what kept me enthralled.
Below is a list of potential trigger warnings. Please note, this may not be a complete list of trigger warnings due to the fact that I cannot predict what will trigger any given person. I have done my best to identify as many triggers as possible, but it is the responsibility of the reader to know their own triggers and limits:
- Central themes of the book focus on PTSD, panic and anxiety attacks, kidnapping and captivity
- Other triggers include, but may not be limited to: physical injury, Stockholm Syndrome, suicide, self harm, ableism, sexual assault (implied and discussed), drugging without consent, violence.