In the short time that Tracy and I have been in the wedding photography business we've had some pretty amazing brides and grooms invite us to document the happiest day of their lives. One of those brides is Courtney Symons. You might remember her from the Day In The Life engagement shoot we shot with her fiance Stephen.
Once, We Were Stolen grabbed me from the very beginning and didn't let go. I found myself counting down the minutes to nap time, hoping for some undisturbed reading time. And as I neared the end I couldn't put it down until I saw the story to its surprising conclusion. I finished the book with my sleeves drenched in tears and my heart racing.
It is the story of three characters, a small boy, his teenage sister, and their kidnapper. Set in the Northern Ontario town of Blind River, Ben and Violet Wrigley are held captive after offering a harmless looking stranger a ride home. "The siblings discover what it takes to find love in desolation, to seek beauty in everyday ugliness, and to battle emotions for a man they struggle to hate." I read this teaser on the digital book jacket and found the premise doubtful. I took it as a personal challenge. I dare you to keep hating this man. I was skeptical of her ability to make me feel otherwise. And for much of the book I won that bet. As a mom, the story made me squirm as I imagined the horror of my son being stolen. But, ultimately, I struggled to hate the kidnapper, Jeremy Ridgeroy, as much as the siblings did.
Courtney has created characters that are as flawed as they are compelling. But beyond getting wrapped up in their individual stories and predicament I also found that I couldn't help but consider the ways that we, as human beings, relate to one another more broadly. What does it mean to be held captive? And what are the chains, imagined or tangible, that hold us where we are? How do we differentiate the emotions of love and hate, freedom and captivity, desire and disgust? And what happens when those seemingly steadfast lines become blurred?
Have I enticed you yet? Well you're in luck! Courtney is giving away five free electronic copies of her book to lucky readers!
Or, if you just can't wait, you can purchase a copy of Once, We Were Stolen on SmashWords or Amazon. And if you're an old soul who prefers the tactile experience of a paper book then you can order one of those too.
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Interested in more book giveaways? Come visit Leeswammes' Literary Giveaway Blog Hop.