Read Gemma by Meg Tilly Online


After Hazen Wood kidnaps 12 year-old Gemma Sullivan, the two embark upon a cross-country journey that tests the limits of Gemma's endurance. In graphic scenes of physical and sexual violence, Hazen tries to destroy the young girl's will. It is only Gemma's childlike resilience and fertile imagination that protect her from the worst of the abuse she suffers. And in the end,After Hazen Wood kidnaps 12 year-old Gemma Sullivan, the two embark upon a cross-country journey that tests the limits of Gemma's endurance. In graphic scenes of physical and sexual violence, Hazen tries to destroy the young girl's will. It is only Gemma's childlike resilience and fertile imagination that protect her from the worst of the abuse she suffers. And in the end, the healing power of unconditional love gives Gemma the courage to speak out against her abuser at last - reclaiming her dignity as a human being....

Title : Gemma
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780929636610
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 271 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Gemma Reviews

  • Natalie Richards
    2019-02-28 21:56

    I found it so difficult to rate this book, almost as difficult as it was to read it. It is a graphic book, as you`d expect, being about sexual abuse of a child. I thought the author depicted the young Gemma so well, no doubt due to the fact she drew on her own childhood experiences of sexual abuse at the hands of family members. It was also interesting, though sickening, to be inside the mind of the paedophile Hazen, as the chapters were alternated between him and Gemma. I would not recommend this book to anyone, not because it is not good, but because of the subject matter..... an entirely personal choice whether you decide to pick it up or not. I can say that I found it to be well written and believable. I know some people may find it impossible to believe that a child would not go to the police or a trusted adult to report what is happening, but that is the point! Children believe what is told to them, and if they are threatened with even more harm or death then they will keep silent. I know this to be true.Ultimately I will never forget Gemma.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-01 14:10

    Story OverviewGemma Sullivan is a 12-year-old girl who hides her interest in school but secretly loves learning. She does her best to make a life for herself, despite her neglectful, alcoholic mother and the unwanted attentions of her mother's boyfriend Buddy. Buddy has been forcing Gemma to have sex with him since she was 7 years old and has convinced her that it must be kept secret or she will go to jail. Withdrawn and friendless, Gemma dreams of having a normal life with a normal mother and a clean home. But that doesn't seem to be in the cards for Gemma, especially when Buddy decides to pimp her out to his friend Hazen Woods for $100.Hazen Wood is 36-years-old and, once he experiences sex with Gemma, begins to fantasize having her all to himself and living with her as man and wife. Increasingly plagued by his twisted desires, Hazen kidnaps Gemma—forcing her to ride in the trunk of his car because she refuses to "play nice" and keeps trying to escape. They travel across the country, with the dynamics of their relationship evolving over time as Gemma learns to tolerate Hazen's depravity and violence by cultivating a rich inner life and imagination.Eventually, they end up in Chicago where fate intervenes and offers Gemma a chance to escape from Hazen. But will Gemma be able to rebuild her life and overcome the horror of her childhood? Will she be able to undo the damage of a lifetime of sexual abuse, violence, and neglect? Is there a chance for Gemma?My ThoughtsOn the back of the review copy that I received, author Meg Tilly talks about what inspired her to write this novel, including her own childhood experiences with sexual abuse by various family members. She writes that the voice of Hazen came to her first, and when she wrote as him: "...I was shaking and nauseous. I felt like I was coated in him somehow. The writer in me was a mix of things; terrified, but relieved too, excited even, because I knew I had touched something true." She didn't hear the voice of Gemma for a long time. "And then one day, a miracle happened. Gemma started talking to me in her quiet and shy voice and I thought, 'Ah...Now I can finally write this book.'"I think it takes guts for Meg Tilly to reveal her own experiences with sexual abuse, but knowing this adds so much credibility to the character's voices. This isn't an easy book to read. Alternating between narration by Gemma and Hazen, the book was often so disturbing that I had to put it aside. Hearing Hazen's twisted logic and justification for what he does to Gemma made me sick. Unfortunately, I did feel like Meg Tilly took me into the mind of a pedophile—and it was a very disturbing place to visit. But, at the same time, getting to know Gemma and learning how she manages to survive and even thrive in a horrible environment and situation helped to offset the disgust I felt when reading Hazen's sections. As a reader, you root for Gemma and ache inside when she believes Hazen's threat and lies. Gemma thinks like a 12-year-old and not an adult, and you begin to understand how easily pedophiles can manipulate children in these situations.I am very thankful that Meg Tilly provided Gemma with a way to escape from Hazen and have another shot at life. I don't think I could have finished this book if there hadn't been a glimmer of hope at the end—that Gemma was finally exposed to adults who weren't out to abuse or take advantage of her. I know that not all abused children get a "happy" ending, but I'm glad the author chose to provide one for Gemma.My Final RecommendationI always struggle giving a "recommendation" for a book like this. This isn't a book you enjoy or read for pleasure. It is disturbing and shockingly graphic in many sections. The writing is good—almost too good in parts. I was really disturbed reading the sections narrated by Hazen; I didn't want to hear what was in his head. But, at the same time, perhaps there is value in being taken inside the mind of a pedophile. I'm glad the book ended with a chance for Gemma to reclaim her life; it would have been entirely too depressing if she hadn't. If the premise of this book interests you, I would recommend it as it was well-written and you won't soon forget it. As far as my ranking, I'm giving it 3.5 stars. I think it was a worthwhile book, but I wouldn't recommend it to everyone due to the subject matter.

  • Michelle
    2019-03-25 18:11

    Note: I won this book free through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway, which had no influence over my rating or review. It can also be found here:, brutal and realistic. Tilly's stark, punctuated writing style suits both protagonists well in this novel. At first I didn't like or understand Gemma at all, until her abuse comes to light in an almost off-hand way and all of a sudden. Which may be how abuse really happens in real life, so fitting. As the story went on, I found myself able to relate to Gemma's utter aloneness and self-doubt more and more. Once you get to know Gemma, she's naturally charming and enthusiastic, full of hope and love. Tilly shows us that even the severely abused can be healed with real loving attention. The author's attempt to humanize the villain falls slightly short, understandably. I think she's brave to even try to get into an abuser's head in any sort of empathetic way, after her own abusive past. She does do a decent job at showing how abusers are able to rationalize and fantasize their way into believing they are doing nothing wrong. I was disappointed in where the author chose to end the story. She interests us in the villain's point of view, but then does not complete his own tale. It seems she was trying to end the novel on a note of hope, and with Gemma, but it left me feeling abruptly cut-off and unsatisfied. What was the verdict? How did he react? This moving and compassionate book is not for the faint-hearted. Its descriptions and depictions of sexual, physical, emotional abuse and neglect are vivid and accurate. Her abusive characters are entirely, and unfortunately, believable - such evil people exist, we hear about them on the news. It is more difficult to believe in the existence of people like Gemma's saviour, Cindy - or even that a little girl could have such strength herself - but we are tempted to do so. Tilly makes us want to believe.

  • Kat
    2019-03-14 17:15

    I hate to start a review with a warning, but I feel I need to - this is a graphic, explicit, disturbing book. Meg Tilly holds nothing back, so if you are easily upset by child sexual abuse, please seriously consider whether this book is for you. On the other hand, if you are a reader of 'tough issues' books, this is a book that will stretch you to the limits.Gemma herself is the bright shining light of this book - right from the beginning I adored her stream of consciousness ramblings, positive outlook on life and infectious enthusiasm for whatever took her fancy. Despite her rough upbringing, she herself glosses over the sadder parts of her life, instead focusing as much as possible on good, safe things.It's when Gemma is kidnapped by Hazen Woods that things take a truly dark turn. Told partly through Gemma's perspective, and partly through Hazen's, Gemma uses her imagination to escape from the terrible reality of what is happening to her.I won't give away the ending, but it was tense, emotional and ultimately a story about the power of love, positive thinking and facing up to demons to build a better, stronger life with more than a bit of hope for Gemma's future.This is a tough book, there's no doubt about it, and there were times that I nearly had to stop reading and step away to recover my own emotions. But I am very glad that I read it, and although I can't with any kind of conscience use the word enjoyed, it was in the end a rewarding read through which I 'met' a character that I truly admired, and discovered an author who tells a story with such passion and love that I can't wait to read more of her work.The Audio VersionGemma is probably the best audiobook that I've listened to in the past year. Meg Tilly doesn't just read her story, she tells it with such passion and emotion that it's hard to believe that it's not Gemma and Hazen telling their stories. Such is the level of narration that you can almost hear the tears, the anger, the panic from both characters, but most particularly Gemma and it endeared her to me even more.Read more of my reviews at The Aussie Zombie

  • Laura Scarcello
    2019-03-12 17:12

    I recieved this book as a Goodreads Firstread. It's about what you expect for "abuse" fiction. Meg Tilly suffered some of the same horrors as her narrator, Gemma, so obviously has the emotion perfect. However, the voice of the writing is off kilter. The book is a first person narrative by 12 year old Gemma, but there is no way that you'd mistake her vioce for anyone under 30. I think the author would be better off setting up a prologue where "Gemma" admits to re-narrating her childhood during her adult years.

  • Shawna
    2019-02-26 19:47

    I have found so many reviews from people who loved this book, and the blurbs on the back by child sex abusive prevention advocates just confused me. I found it completely unbelievable that a girl living in post-911 America would honestly believe that she would go to jail for enduring frequent and brutal rapes. In all that time her negligent mother left her alone she never caught one of the hundreds of episodes of Law and Order: SVU that deal with this topic? I didn't believe that a kidnapped child, screaming and wailing could be carried out of Disneyland without security intervening. At one point she escapes and is found again by her kidnapper digging through a no one noticed that this girl, who is described as strikingly beautiful (the most beautiful, the most perfect little girl!) is digging through a dumpter...oh yeah...and at this point she's probably bruised and bloody, and barely able to walk straight from all the rapes? I've read about child sexual abuse before, but this story was just way over the top.

  • Sabrina Rutter
    2019-03-22 19:56

    I knew going into this I was going to be reading about a terrible subject. That's fine since I read a lot of true life stories about abuse, but this was very graphic. So graphic I thought for sure this couldn't be a young adult novel, but it is.I didn't care to much for the writing style. An example is the word "thinking" written as "thinging". I also didn't like the fact that Tilly would write as though it were in the present moment and then switch the next sentence as if it were past tense. Believe me if this bothered me, with my run on sentences, terrible spelling, bad punctuation, and not placing paragraphs in the right place, it will bother you.I can't say that I hated this, but can't say I liked it either. It seemed to drag a lot. I thought the book was going to be about Gemma's turtle at one point. You wouldn't believe how many times it says the turtle is cute. Seriously it was starting to drive me crazy!One thing I did like was that we got to read the story from the side of the bad guy as well. Although he's a deliusional sicko it was still good to know what he was thinking so we had more of an idea of what Gemma was going through or might face next.There were several things Tilly could have done to make the book longer instead of dragging things out. For starters she could have made the story more believable. The mother totally unbelievable! You don't spend that many years raising a child and not have some form of love for her. Also the mothers boyfriend not getting arrested for selling the child into prostitution. Also the way the arrest of the kidnapper went down was totally unbelievable, it would have been way to dangerous for the child. I could go on and on about how many things in this story are unbelievable.The great thing I will say about this book is that a portion of the author's royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to organizations serving children who are victims of abuse.

  • Jane Eaton Hamilton
    2019-03-13 20:53

    It's taken me weeks to consider what I want to say about this frightening, affecting novel by Meg Tilly. A child is sexually assaulted by her stepfather before being abducted by his friend. Meg Tilly is a fine writer, and these skills mean that her graphic scenes of abuse leap from the page. It leaves the reader gasping, but the book also becomes valuable and treasured as an exposé of pain and loss. I'm an author too, of often difficult material, and I've had my books poorly reviewed because they deal with difficult topics; I wouldn't deny any book for that reason. I wouldn't do that to this book or this writer, because being able to make a reader react strongly, even with revulsion, is a beautiful accomplishment. I want a book to take me somewhere real and honest and hard, just as life often does. If that's not what I'm in a reading mood for, there are a ton of humour and light-drifting books around. Gemma does something much harder and more difficult to pull off. I'll hold it as a precious text. As an author I've been thinking hard about the commitment writers make to their texts and their subject matter. Do we tell our tales as simply as possible to ease our readers through? I imagine if there was a real Gemma, or Gemma is based on a real child, that true story is boggy and full of complexity, nuance, loops and mis-directions not reflected in the novel. Part of a writer's job is to know what to put in and what to leave out. Here Tilly has done an excellent smoothing job. I think I can see her background in acting and script reading shining through? In the movies, on stage, every word, every sound must serve the whole. Everything exists in service of moving things forward. This book has a breakneck pace toward itself. I, myself, would want a slightly more complicated text, with a bit more bogginess about the ways the world hunts and hurts us left in. With less direction to the reader about how they should feel.

  • melissa
    2019-03-06 19:46

    ***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***A twelve year old girl named Gemma is abducted and physically and sexually abused by a family friend named Hazen. The first half of the book is very graphic and disturbing, and I had to put it down and walk away several times. And yet Gemma’s character kept drawing me back. There is a sweetness that shows through in the character through all the horrible things she has to survive. She has a protective and maternal instinct that shows up time and again with her turtle and then with her mother. She shows a combination of maturity and responsibility, but mixed with a childhood innocence that is very believable. There is a kind of hope that shows through in Tilly’s writing, that you know she is going to get away, and you have to keep reading to find out the when and how. Even the bad guy (Hazen), although very disturbing, is very well written. Half the book is from his point of view, and Tilly does a good job of showing his justifications. He says things like I had to lock her in the trunk and take her clothes, she kept trying to run away. or God said I should beat her, and teach her some respect. Then there is a shift that occurs about half way through. We meet Cindy. She provides a counterbalance character that is very honest, realistic in her view points, and real. You can tell she is coming from a perspective of understanding and love. I guess if there was a disappointing part of this book would be the non-ending. There was no neat wrap up, and it left me with tons of questions. But that is me. I like neatly tied up endings. This book was well done, and emotional to the last page. Gemma is a character that will be with me for a long time.***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

  • Loveliest Evaris
    2019-03-17 19:00

    The author Meg Tilly has written a very real, true-life book with images that still burn in my mind.Gemma is a 12-year-old girl that has a one night stand with Hazen Wood after her mother's boyfriend lends her to him for $100. He quickly becomes obsessed with her, and one night, just opens the trunk lid of his truck, stuffs her inside, and drives off in the opposite direction.He repeatedly rapes and abuses her during their cross-country trip to nowhere, but Gemma's seemingly boundless imagination prevents her from succumbing to shock and losing hope in this hell-on-earth situation she is forced to be in. She repeatedly tries to escape, only to be wrastled by Hazen back into his diabolical clutches. Some of the events that happen in this book could be called "disturbing" and I would only recommend this to mature older teens/young adults and adults. The mind inside of a pedophile is also quite interesting and fascinating, yet repulsive and vile. But you can't stop reading, and when you pause, it makes you think about the pain that Gemma has suffered, and makes you wonder just how could a child her age suffer from that much torture and not have her spirit completely broken?But, nearing the end, redemption. And you are so happy for Gemma, but sad at the same time because what she went through is still fresh in everyone's minds. And at the end of the book, there is no real resolution, it is just a cliffhanger that makes readers come up with questions that we can only theorize the answers to.All in all, a very powerful book, recommend it to those mature readers who want to see the ugly truth to innapropriate relationships between adult and child like this.

  • Sandra
    2019-03-18 16:54

    One star means 'didn't like it'. That's putting it mildly! I would like to rate it NO star. If I hadn't won this book, thus having to write a review, I would never have finished it. Too graphic and disturbing.

  • Alice
    2019-03-03 13:46

    I did NOT like this book. At first, it was kinda good, but after a while it got worse and worse. It's about this girl named Gemma, and the book was written in a southern accent so it's safe you say that they're in a southern state. Anyway, Gemma is described to be a loner at her school, but not because people don't like her, but because she chooses to be. Her alchohlic mom's boyfriend, Billy, molests her anytime he can. She's 12 and she said it's been happening since she was 8. She tried to tell her mom once but she wasn't in a mood to talk, and Billy said that they put little girls who seduce men in jail, and that if she called the police that was what was going to happen. Anyway, Billy starts prostituting her, one day he sells her to a guy named Hazen, and after one night, he fell in love with her. He kidnapps her and starts traveling across the country. I didn't like this book mostly because of the way it was written, the sentences started off with words that shouldn't start a sentence, and some sentences aren't even sentences. Like this passege from the book, "The Great Canadian Rockies. Liked the Mounties. Wanted to be one since he was a boy. Went with grandmother. Was seven. Was the best vacation of his life." Really? REALLY? I only read half the book, I closed it after becoming bored with the story and irritated with the writing. It was pretty boring, and didn't make sense at times. Such as, after Hazen kidnapped her he put her in the trunk, after a while he brought her up front, but she kept leaping out at every stoplight and gas station so he would put her back in the trunk. Can you imagine being at a stoplight and a girl jumps out of the car infront of you and runs off, then a man jumps out and grabs her, stuffs her in the trunk, and keeps driving? Wouldn't someone call the cops and give them the creep's license plate number? Also, she had a pet turtle that was in her pocket when she was kidnapped, she would secretly feed it and stuff at night and then one day the turtle didn't come out of her shell, she said that her body just flopped around inside it's shell and that it started to smell bad. Can you guess what happened to her turtle? I'm sure most 12-year-olds could. She may have been in denile, but I can't see a 12-year-old thinking her turtle is sick when it doesn't eat for DAYS and starts smelling bad while it's body is limp inside it's shell. Also, she seemed really calm about the whole thing, when she was kidnapped she thought, "It must be ol' fuckface from a couple days ago. No worries, I'll just jump out next time he opens the lid." THE WHOLE TIME she was incredibly calm about it. This girl got on my nerves. The rape parts are DETAILED, really DETAILED. It made me think I was reading a dirty book. Maybe not as detailed as a dirty book but it's a little too descriptive for comfort. And the writer uses words like, (excuse my french) pussy, cock, twat, cum, all that nasty stuff. I do like Gemma's imagination through out the whole thing, and how that keeps her going but still, I WOULD NOT recommend this anybody.

  • Jamie (The Perpetual Page-Turner)
    2019-02-26 17:55

    I won this book through the Goodreads giveaway program so it is an ARC. I don't think I knew quite what I was getting myself into when I picked this book up. I started to glance through reviews and saw that some people were saying it was pretty disturbing. "Disturbing" can be pretty subjective so I decided to read on.The premise of the story was extremely interesting and Tilly didn't disappoint throughout the whole book. The story is about Gemma, a 12 year old girl, who lives in a less than ideal situation. She lives with her drunk, oblivious mom who smokes like a chimney, works all the time, & never really spends time with Gemma who really is quite a bright little girl. She gets left at home with the mother's dirt bag boyfriend who molests her when her mom isn't home or when her mom is home passed out. You can see these characters in a movie or something. Buddy with his greasy white beater, gut hanging out and all, and that all too creepy, pervy smile. The mom, with a cigarette in her mouth and her all too red lipstick, just barking up a storm when she is awoken from her drunken stupor. Really. I can see it now.Anyways, dirtball boyfriend decides it's a good idea to let men sleep with her for money. Enters nasty, greasy dirtball #2--Hazen-- but he's much worse than Buddy..way too self righteous. He eventually kidnaps her and the rest of the story goes back and forth from Gemma's perspective to Hazen's throughout the kidnapping and the aftermath. Mostly Gemma's.Disturbing? Hell yes. I felt sick reading it. I wanted to reach through this book and kill this guy. I felt sickened by reading Lolita but this was far harder because this guy wasn't as charming as Humbert and it was certainly more explicit. I didn't find it too explicit that I couldn't make it through the book but I found myself just so sad because these things really do happen and it's not fair.I found Tilly's style effective overall. It took a little getting used to the choppy, fragmented sentences but I understood why she was doing it. Sometimes I found her to be overly verbose and it wasn't always in a good way. Overall, compelling story that will certainly stick with you and the character of Gemma is darling. She is precocious, strong, and so completely lovable. I wouldn't say the writing is anything too spectacular but I don't know if it was just for effect or what. I can't judge that without reading something else written by her.

  • Cindy
    2019-03-15 20:50

    Gemma is a compelling story by author/actor Meg Tilly, who herself suffered abuse at the hands of adults she trusted. I found the story almost intoxicating and difficult to put down. At the same time I was sickened by the cruelty and descriptions of abuse, I was inspired by the small voice of a very brave girl who suffered, yet never lost her hope for a life in which someone would care. I received a free copy of Gemma through Goodreads First Reads. If I had seen Gemma in a bookstore, I probably would not have bought the book, as it is not in one of the genres that I usually pick. I knew nothing about Gemma other than a short synopsis on Goodreads and the author's comments on the back cover. So I was not prepared for the emotions that swept through me as I read. Stopping only to refill my coffee cup, I read the book from start to finish one cold snowy winter's morning. Gemma is a raw, disturbing story, appropriate only for mature readers; it contains descriptions of violence and abuse that will shock most adults by its intensity.Meg Tilly has created a powerful story contrasting twisted, dark imaginings of a pedophiliac mind with those of an innocent child struggling to survive. Even in the bleakness of poverty, abuse, and criminal acts, Gemma's small voice reminds us that hope is often all that we have to hold on to. Beaten down over and over by the adults in her life, Gemma always finds a way to survive. But this is not simply an engaging story; the author donates a portion of the royalties from Gemma to organizations that help and give hope to real children caught in cycles of abuse. Overall, I give Gemma 8 out of 10 stars: Meg Tilly steps fearlessly into a world that is uglier than we like to believe, but necessary for us to understand and see the abuse that children suffer at the hands of those they trust.Read the full review here.

  • Eva Leger
    2019-03-01 20:57

    I've been meaning to read this for a few years at least and it's been sitting here for about that long. I finally picked it up because a friend thought she may want to read it. I'm glad I read it so now it's off my shelf. But I'm not glad I read it because it's so great. It's not as great as people say.I think what has people saying it's so great is how graphic it is. **Hear me out.** Most books aren't as graphic as this. In this way it's somewhat unique. So, it hits harder because of that alone. If you'll notice, many of the reviews state just how graphic it is. How they weren't expecting this, etc. I'm willing to bet anyone who doesn't read real life stories of abuse will be greatly bothered by it. Hell, I have read a lot of personal stories about brutality and it bothered me. But it didn't hit me as hard as I think it did some (most?) others. My review is a lot like my friend Sabrina's. What I liked the most was the alternate story telling. I liked getting Hazen's side of the story. In fact, I found Hazen's side much more interesting.The ending was anti-climatic.The best part of the book is something else my Sabrina mentions - the fact that the author donated/donates a portion of the sales of the book to "organizations serving children who are victims of abuse". I'd have liked to have known which organizations but that's neither here nor there.In the end I'd say beware, it's not all your friends made it out to be. And, it is graphic. I'm not sure I'd hand this to any teenager. He or she would have to be an older, mature teen for me to be okay with it.

  • Jennifer Wardrip
    2019-02-28 20:05

    Reviewed by Ashley B for TeensReadToo.comTwelve-year-old Gemma is enjoying her young life on the outside, but she has a secret. She is being sexually abused by Buddy, her mother's boyfriend. He sells her out to Hazen Woods, who pays $100 to have sex with Gemma.Hazen, later on, kidnaps Gemma, and they drove all over the country. She tried to get away, but he always found her. She gave up. Nobody would listen if she asked for help; no one would help her. She can't tell anyone anything, because Buddy embedded the thought into her that Gemma would go to jail if anyone ever found out. She stays strong with her imagination, and thinks that, eventually, she will be home again.This is a difficult book for me to review. And it was a difficult book to read. I had no idea what to expect when I began reading this novel, because I knew it was about child abuse, which is a really tough subject for anyone. And as a disclaimer, this book is definitely not for younger readers.The novel started off somewhat slow. But it wasn't long before I couldn't stop reading. I felt so much pain, Gemma's pain, from the start. I had trouble understanding how anyone could treat a child in that way. I think that the story was made better since it goes back and forth between Gemma's point of view and Hazen's. After reading Hazen's point of view for the first time, I could not FATHOM how a grown man could be so disgusting.So, GEMMA was tough to read. But in reality, it was amazing. Really. By the end of the novel, I was so happy for Gemma, yet so sad for her. Books don't often give off this much emotion, which made the book even better for me.

  • Aviva
    2019-02-25 14:10

    This book was disturbing. For obvious reasons (it's the story of a little girl's kidnapping by her mother's abusive boyfriend's friend who is convinced the little girl is in love with him) and not so obvious reasons. Gemma's life is a laundry list of bad from the gate, and she does have good things in her life, she's crazy smart and she's got a new pet turtle that she loves, but that doesn't mean the bad things aren't really bad. And the villain in the story is the most appalling individual I've seen since Steve Buscemi in Con-Air. The book is told in alternating points of view. Beginning from Gemma and switching regularly to Hazen's (the villain's) pov. It's such a stark contrast because she's completely terrified and he's convinced she's not only the love of his life (I should take a second to point out that she's twelve) but that she's also totally in love with him. Most disturbing is that from the description we're given of Hazen, it's pretty clear that this guy is your typical soft-spoken, shirt sleeve and bow tie wearing pencil pusher. Welcome to a lesson in the banality of evil, folks. My only complaint with the book was Gemma's rescue. Not the rescue itself, but the extended rescue from the foster hell and all the things that happen after. Because it just seemed a little too easy. A little too "fairy godmother's magic wand." It made for a happy ending, a great "well now I feel better", but it didn't seem real. Either way, very engrossing and definitely compelling.

  • Shirlene
    2019-03-18 18:50

    This was the most graphic story that I have ever read. Some parts were so intense that it was hard to get through. It was written from two different viewpoints. That was interesting to read about the different perspectives. Gemma was very naive and confused about it all, as is expected since she is a child. What really got me about her situation was that she thought that she would go to jail if Buddy or Hazen was caught. Hazen knew this so he took advantage of it, by reminding her every chance he got. He believed that God was telling him to do those things to Gemma. He thought that God wanted them to get married and have children. That was what was so messed up about his side of the story. He actually believed that he was justified. It is really hard to read a book like this, especially when you know that this could really happen to anyone, that there are people out there who think like Hazen. My only problem with the story is that it ends without saying what happens to Hazen. The reader does not know if he goes to jail or if he is freed.

  • V Nerd
    2019-02-23 14:53

    Wow this one was a tough one to read, especially as it was on audio and you can't skip.The narrator was excellent and depicted a 12 year old girl down to a tee in how she spoke about things.Gemma (12) has a hard life, she is already being abused by Buddy her mother's boyfriend, so she knows that one day when he meets her after school something is wrong, but he tells her that he has got a job for her, and she thinks this is great, especially when they go to Denny's and she thinks she is going to be a waitress.........that is until he sells her for the night for $100 to Hazen !Hazen then becomes obsessed with her and winds up kidnapping her and her abuse starts all over again.A very harrowing 4☆ read  

  • Dana Nucera
    2019-03-12 19:08

    Sorry, I have to say I did not enjoy this book at all. I got nothing out of it other than being reminded again how sick people are out there. I like to think a 12 year old would have enough sense to grab a police officer, or someone that could help her. There were too many loopholes in this story, and on top of that reading the brutal treatment of a child, or anyone for that matter, is just not enjoyable. I know that stuff exists, I just don't need to read it in a book when I want to enjoy my time reading.

  • Natalie
    2019-03-02 22:05

    Gemma is easily one of the most difficult books I have ever read. Even harder because I was actually listening to it on a audiobook. You can't skip paragraphs or lines easily on an audiobook so I had to sit there and listen to every word.I've watched a fair amount of Law & Order SVU and do consider myself not used to but not shocked by most things on this topic. This book gives me a run for my money. I don't think I could recommend it to anyone and I never see myself re-reading it. But it's a good book. Just not one I want to experience again.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-02 18:13

    This novel takes you on a journey that is, at times, near impossible to stomach. No one is comfortable discussing the sexual abuse of a child. It is a topic that is too often swept under the rug for that very reason. Yet, so many young men and women suffer at the hands of sexual abuse and this novel takes a frank and honest look at that topic. It fills the reader with revulsion, fear, and dread then slowly leads the way out to wisdom, strength, and transcendence. I found an honesty in this book that spoke to me. I found a piece of myself.

  • Jaymie
    2019-03-21 16:06

    Wow! This book is graphic, gritty, it made me nauseous and it made me cry. Meg Tilly's words are powerful and I think she captured the very real voice of being an innocent, but sexualized 12 year old.I can guarantee this book will never get the "feel good" book of the year award. But it wasn't written to either.Meg Tilly writes with a rare honesty that is not found often. She doesn't sugar coat anything and I appreciate that in an author.

  • Robyn Doerksen
    2019-03-04 21:47

    Only book I've ever read in one day. Extremely hard to read at times but because it is so horrific I had to get to the end as soon as possible. I felt Gemma's emotions through the abuse and dealing with the aftermath of her mother, nightmares etc., like I was in her head; not many authors do that for me. So for me this was an emotional, tense read the entire time. Hard to say the book is 'good' because the content is brutal, if that makes any sense.

  • Autumn
    2019-03-07 21:58

    A hard book to read because of the level of detail but also a book that wises you up to child sexual abuse. "The U.S. justice department stated in 2002, that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually assaulted before they reach the age of 18."I want to just lay my head down and cry for these children.

  • Tammy Strickler
    2019-03-21 13:56

    It was a tough read, but I was so interested in Gemma and how she would conquer her abuser! I knew by her character she would get free, I just didn't know how she would do it. I am glad I stuck with it till the end and found Gemma to be a tough and determined young girl, yet she still seemed to have some innocence and need to be loved. Just like us all!

  • Heather
    2019-03-24 20:04

    This book is very graphic. It's the story of a small girl's kidnapping and subsequent repeated rapes. It's told from the perspective of both the captor and the victim. I read this book in one day and it left me drained and tainted just from knowing that somewhere such a thing is really occurring.

  • Jessica
    2019-03-24 20:46

    I enjoyed this book, I liked how Gemma became stronger and more determined. I would have rated it higher had we know what happened after her testimony in court! ☺️

  • The Great Tapeworm of Arrakis
    2019-03-02 19:47

    Horrifying, disgusting, powerful. A very important novel, but by no means a pleasant or enjoyable read.

  • Melissa McGuire
    2019-03-19 21:15

    This book was very difficult to get through. It was very graphic and controversial