Review of Jane Anonymous, by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Jane Anonymous

by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Wednesday Books (St. Martins), 2019. 306 pages.
Review written December 21, 2020, from a library book
Starred Review

Jane Anonymous is a thriller for teens about a girl who was taken captive for seven months.

The story flashes between “Now” as she’s trying to recover and “Then” when the kidnapping unfolded. The book would be too intense done any other way, because it would be unbearable to think she never escaped. As it is, you can’t stop reading to find out what happened to mess with her head so badly and how she did get out of it.

Here’s how the book begins, in a Prologue with the heading “Now.”

Dear Reader(s),

Before ten months ago, I didn’t know that the coil spring from a mattress could be used as a makeshift weapon, or that the rod inside a toilet tank worked just as well as the claw of a hammer.

Before ten months ago, I never imagined that the sense of smell could be so keen – that the scent of my breath, like rotten fruit, could wake me out of a sound sleep, or that cooked rice carries a distinct aroma, like popcorn kernels heating.


Ten months.


I’d never considered the power of light – that when one is deprived of it, illogical thoughts can gnaw like rats at the brain, keeping one up, driving one mad.

Nor had I any reason to predict how intimately I’d come to know myself: the oily stench of my own hair, the salty taste of my own blood, and the touch of my unbathed body (the scaly layer of scabbing that would form all over my skin, and the fire-ant sensation that would crawl up and down my limbs.)

By telling the reader what’s going to happen, the author grabs our attention right away. By weaving together the two timelines, we come to understand that a trauma like that doesn’t get all better simply by escaping the situation.

This powerfully written thriller will have you on the edge of your seat.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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