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A teenage boy must piece his past together after discovering he was kidnapped as a child.

Landon Starker seems like just another troubled teen—more concerned with getting high than attending class, prone to badmouthing his teachers and even bullying fellow students. Landon knows he’s not like his peers, but what he doesn’t know is that he is actually Tyler Roberts, who was abducted years ago by his “father” Bob Starker, an abusive man who has used the boy for his perversions. When Landon is arrested, his fingerprints pop up in the Ameritek ID database and the FBI raids Bob’s house, freeing Landon and throwing him into a new world where he’s expected not only to reunite with a family he no longer remembers, but to confront long-repressed memories. Hester’s impressive debut novel is an intelligent, readable affair, tackling difficult and shocking subject matter with sensitivity, never resorting to the voyeuristic sensationalism that has become the norm when portraying abuse. Intensely methodical, the book accurately represents coping with trauma, with no magic bullets or easy answers, and presents breakthroughs and setbacks realistically. Some will find the author’s pace plodding, even frustrating, but this serves to believably depict the slow crawl to recovery. The novel’s tone alternates between clinical and simplistic, working best when it finds the middle ground linking the two styles. This is most notably on display in its natural-sounding dialogue that cleverly shows the discrepancy between one’s feelings and actions. Hester maintains a commitment to realism, and waivers only once, during a climactic court scene where a little creative license is not only forgivable, but welcome.

Teaches and informs while remaining a compelling, nonexploitative read.
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review by . May 06, 2013
A psychologically fierce novel that is engrossing, affecting and satisfying.
Child abduction cases like those of Steven Stayner, Jacob Wetterling, Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard-when covered in the mainstream newspapers and national media-always evoke a vast array of hard-to-grapple emotions: revulsion, rage, helplessness, disgust, down to sorrow, hope and compassion for the missing victims and their families. Yet, there is also that unspoken feeling of relief, of, Thank God it was not my my little one. Child abductors, especially stranger abductions, to-be-sure, are …
review by . July 02, 2011
A good novel usually has a character that I feel a sense of empathy for. Dayna Hester does this for me with the book Speaking Truths. This is a fictional novel about a child who is kidnapped and lives with his abductor for seven years. I have not read a book about this subject before, so I did not know what to expect. The influence that an abductor has on the beliefs of the victim is something I found fascinating to read about. The psychological elements of abuse like denial, repression and …
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