***Blog Comments count toward extra entries in the Grand Prize Giveaway of an eReader via Cheryl Rainfield's Blog. Follow the link for more details.***
Stained by Cheryl Rainfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Cheryl Rainfield is an amazing human being. I love her to pieces. I have read SCARS, HUNTED, PARALLEL VISIONS, and now STAINED. All four books are incredibly well written, true-to-life and realistic teen fiction. But there's an air of realism that cuts through the pages, reaches out from the book as you hold it, and grips you like no other YA books I've read. Hands down, I am in awe of Cheryl's remarkable writing, and accessibility. And with STAINED, Cheryl has raised the bar once again.
I met Cheryl online and consider her a friend. But I can separate my friendship from my abilities to read and review a novel. I have felt so welcomed by Cheryl over the years, no matter when or how I check in with her. She always replies in a friendly and compassionate manner, and emotes smiles and hugs and feelings through social media with a tenacity most writers would not be able to keep up with. Not only is this accessibility true to connecting with Cheryl online, but it is equally true in the pages of her novels. STAINED grabbed me on page one and didn't let me go until the very last page. I was frustrated I couldn't carve out enough real life time to read cover to cover all at one sitting, as I had hoped to do. I struggled to put it down at times until I could pick it up again and read at a harrowing, high-stakes pace through chapter after chapter, and page after page.
Sarah and Nick are written in first person POV, in semi-alternating chapters. I say this as a caveat. Some books written in alternating chapters religiously alternate with odd and even chapter numbers. Cheryl alternates as the story unfolds, or as needed, to give the reader the most "there" persona to put you in the center of every moment as it happens. I found this to be very realistic in reading the book and it kept me wanting to know what happens next. Since this is a thriller of a novel, there's also a day or time stamp at the top to aid the reader in knowing how much time has elapsed since the last chapter. Rainfield uses this masterfully, keeping the reader on the edge of a knife blade.
While Nick and Sarah both become central to the story, I feel Sarah is truly the MC. Sarah's port wine stain on her cheek becomes the subject of her obsession with her own outward appearance, and also emboldens others to bully her. Sarah spends her time flipping through beauty magazines, and searching for her own beauty hidden behind her hair and her large facial blemish. But not everyone sees her this way. In fact, Nick sees beyond the surface and notices how Sarah protects others who are bullied, creates her comic book character, Diamond, who later becomes a persona she inhabits in real life, and the way she must decide to rescue herself from her captor.
Cheryl takes on the issues of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), kidnapping, bullying, rape, torture, brainwashing, and predators and how they groom their victims, in this novel. It's not easy to stomach many of the scenes, since they are written as unflinchingly as Sarah, who bravely resists everything her captor throws at her. It did not surprise me to learn that the captor was someone known, as is often the case in abuse and rape. With STAINED, Cheryl has become her strongest yet, in fleshing out characters who fight hard to overcome their attackers, and even humanizing her villain.
More books like this need to be written. This issues of CSA and rape are among the most avoided in our country. Most who have dealt with it, or know someone who has, prefer to sweep such topics and discussions under the carpet of conversation. This is wrong, and empowers predators to thrive in the dark shadows they inhabit, taking advantage of the downtrodden, the bullied, the social outcasts. One in six boys and one in four girls is sexually assaulted before they turn 18. These statistics are not only horrifying, but they're getting worse. Current data proves these numbers are moving in the wrong direction (one in five for boys, one in three for girls), and leaves 40 million survivors in the U.S. alone.
I applaud Cheryl Rainfield for standing up for these victims, these survivors, and their loved ones who need books like this one to identify themselves and to empower victims to become survivors and overcomers like Sarah. Not all families have the skills necessary to equip potential victims and help them avoid becoming abused. I believe STAINED could be effectively used as a therapeutic tool to help assault victims face and deal with their trauma history.
Apart from the issues addressed in STAINED, it is an amazing, fast-paced read. Gripping all the way to the last page. Wow! Highly recommended!!
Check out my reviews of all of Cheryl's books:
Book Review: SCARS by Cheryl Rainfield
Book Review: HUNTED by Cheryl Rainfield
Book Review: PARALLEL VISIONS by Cheryl Rainfield
Check out my cover reveal(s) for STAINED:
Original Cover Reveal for STAINED
Revised Cover Reveal for STAINED
Check out my Author Interview with Cheryl Rainfield:
Author Interview: Cheryl Rainfield on SCARS and HUNTED
Author Interview (Part One): Cheryl Rainfield on STAINED and HUNTED Giveaway
Author Interview (Part Two): Cheryl Rainfield on STAINED and SCARS Giveaway
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