Stranger Things by Erin Healy Reviewed by: Lori Twichell Genre: Suspense, Mystery Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Serena Diaz has a life that’s just about perfect. In her dream job as a teacher, she gets to work with students and help teach them about science and biology. She even gets to shake things up with more hands on teaching than lectures and field trips that really engage the kids. Her boyfriend, an attorney, is handsome, wealthy and well respected in the community.
But when she’s suddenly confronted with allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a student, things don’t just crumble around her, they disintegrate. In a heartbeat, everything in her life shifts and she has to question everything she’s ever known.
All too soon, Serena realizes that she’s in a far bigger battle than just some high school drama. A young man, determined to rescue her, is brutally murdered right in front of her. Suddenly life isn’t at all what it seemed.
Erin Healy has given life and breath to what, for many, is just a headline in a newspaper. Human trafficking happens not just overseas, but right here in America. It’s a ‘business’ worth millions – maybe even billions – of dollars every year. The average age of the trafficked person in the U.S. is 12. Twelve years old. This topic is one of my own personal hot button issues, so when I was asked to review it, I jumped at the chance.
Healy tackled this incredibly difficult topic with a depth and intensity that were stunning. With fast moving plots and diverse characters, I was kept guessing as to how it would all turn out until the very end. Not even close to being a dry retelling of facts and figures (like my little deviation above) Healy’s deft transformation of this topic into a tightly paced thriller is to be commended. Even if the subject matter was pure fiction, this story would be highly entertaining. Once you throw in Healy’s well placed facts and information, it becomes a stunning piece of literature that not only entertains, but informs.
Though this is obviously a mature subject to try and tackle, I was impressed with the fact that Stranger Things is gritty enough to be realistic without being overly graphic. This book could be handed to teenagers without anyone needing to worry about overt sexual content. We know what happens in the rooms but we don’t necessarily see it or experience it ourselves as readers. The thoughts of the characters involved in the trade are pretty intense, but they give a good glimpse into the trafficker’s mind.
I highly recommend this book. I’ve already gifted a friend of mine with a copy so she and her teenage daughter can both read it. Healy does a fabulous job of creating a literary journey that’s engaging, based in fact, and filled out in beautiful storytelling.
Rating: PG-13: This is a heavy subject. It needs to be approached with caution by anyone under 13 or 14 – and shared with a parent. Other than that, it’s handled with style and grace that will work for teens.