Publish Date : 8/7/2018
Author: T. Greenwood
Rating : ⭐⭐⭐
I’m a little embarrassed being a town away from Camden and never hearing this story. Camden today is a far cry from Camden in the past. Camden is where my family rooted after moving here from Puerto Rico. It was a nice area to live in during this time. T. Greenwood painted Camden at this time truthfully. As a gang-ridden city today and often labeled America’s most dangerous city now, this story is surprising for the time. Also never read Vladimir Nabokev’s ‘ Lolita which is also based on Sally Horner.
Camden, NJ, 1948.
When 11 year-old Sally Horner steals a notebook from the local Woolworth’s, she has no way of knowing that 52 year-old Frank LaSalle, fresh out of prison, is watching her, preparing to make his move. Accosting her outside the store, Frank convinces Sally that he’s an FBI agent who can have her arrested in a minute—unless she does as he says.
This chilling novel traces the next two harrowing years as Frank mentally and physically assaults Sally while the two of them travel westward from Camden to San Jose, forever altering not only her life, but the lives of her family, friends, and those she meets along the way.
There is nothing but heavy material here. Reaaaalllly heavy material, but the author does a phenomenal job of keeping the read lighter by not going into details and really just skimming the surface of what she believes Sally’s life with her kidnapper was like.
This was a quick read for me, not because I wanted to know what was going to happen (I like most know the conclusion) but because I felt like not reading it was keeping Sally’s story on hold. This is a sad, mainly true, fiction and her story needs to be told.
I had to get past the fact that these situations would not play out like this in today’s world. Our technology such as cameras, and cell phones, and even the internet would add so many different facets to Sally’s story and as our kidnapper (I won’t glorify him by naming him), didn’t seem to have a murderous trait at least for the majority of the book, keeping Sally for so long would have been much more difficult. The time period, an important facet of setting, really makes this crime possible. The trusting factor during this time period was much higher, as I had to keep reminding myself as I was constantly hating Sally’s mother, Ella. She seems to just throw in the towel which was also very hard for me to imagine but again, times have changed that make our society more urgent and able to track information down quickly. I actually feel that had Sally been kidnapped today, her survival factor would have been diminished as her kidnapper would have been tracked easily which may have resulted in using her for a short period of time, killing her, and finding a new hostage. When reading, please keep in mind these time period differences. Sally’s naive nature is also more likely a result of the time period. I think I would have been a much different 11 year old to kidnap and would have been much more clever in an escape long before and also much less naive in believing what was happening but our culture of kids grow up much faster in our day in age so this may just be a facet of the time.
I felt for Susan the entire time of course but so many happenings that would have put this tragedy to an end long before two years made me so much sadder. I kept hoping that she would be found even though I knew she was not going to be yet.
This is not an enjoyable book in the sense of liking what you read but definitely one worth reading. My lower rating is partially because I would have liked some more character depth. I understand this is based on a true story but gaining more insight into the monster himself, or even more of Susan’s hatred towards Ella would have made this an easier 4 because these vague portions of the book left me wanting more for me to understand.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for giving me a copy in exchange for my honest review!