Drusilla Campbell writes fiction around contemporary issues, including post partum depression (The Good Sister), surviving the loss of a child (Blood Orange) and losing a family member to a drunk driver (The Edge of the Sky).
Although teen characters appear in these novels, Campbell’s latest has full-blown appeal for teen readers, echoing stories of abduction in the news (a là Jaycee Dugard, and her memoir A Stolen Life) or popular fiction (think of Emma Donoghue’s Alex Award-winning Room).
The first 6 chapters of Little Girl Gone are available on the author’s website. By the end of chapter one, teen rebellion, losing her father, drugs, and the wrong friends have lead Madora to make some scary choices.
Five years later, Madora is living with Willis and letting life happen to her when 12-year-old Django shows up and helps her see other possibilities. I enjoyed the author’s blog post about how Django arrived in her novel fully formed.
Your teens may already be aware of Little Girl Gone, thanks to a writing contest on Figment.
CAMPBELL, Drusilla. Little Girl Gone. 307p. Grand Central. Jan. 2012. Tr $14.99. ISBN 978-0-446-53579-3. LC 2011015394.
Adult/High School–Campbell comes from the same “ripped from the headlines/domestic drama” school as the more well-known Jodi Picoult. Hints of Jaycee Dugard populate her latest, about the shrinking-violet helpmate of a man who starts out creepy before going full-on sociopath. When Madora was 17, she left her slightly troubled family situation to run off with much older Willis. After five years, which take place off the page, Willis brings home a pregnant homeless teenager and holds her captive in his rickety trailer, with the intent to sell her baby on the black market. Enter Django, a 12-year-old who moves into the neighborhood with his aunt after his rich and famous parents die in a car accident. Django befriends Madora after watching Willis mistreat their pitbull, and soon he wants to save them both. This combination of events seemingly wakes Madora from her slumber under Willis’s spell. Told from all of the characters points of view, the book moves at a lightning pace, in part due to the matter-of-fact language and a rapidly shifting plot. Campbell makes Madora at least slightly sympathetic, not an easy task to those who usually look at criminals’ spouses and wonder about their guilt. With several of the characters being teenagers or just slightly older, as well as the constant thread of danger in the plot, teens are a natural audience for this book. Even reluctant readers will be engaged quickly.–Jamie Watson, Baltimore County Public Library, MD