A Book Review on After We Were Stolen by Brooke Beyfuss
Title: After We Were Stolen
Author: Brooke Beyfuss
Genre: Domestic Fiction
Page Count: 400
Hi friends. I'm back with another book review from a Black Woman's perspective. This book was mentioned a few times in the bookstagram world. I had just come up for air after back-to-back buddy reads and was looking for something else to read. I haven't read many cult stories, but I do have a certain level of morbid curiosity about cults and all things trauma. Plus, I had heard from a trusted source that this was a really good book. So without further ado, let's get into it.
A fire. Her escape. And the realization her entire life has been a lie.
When nineteen-year-old Avery awakens to flames consuming her family's remote compound, she knows it's her only chance to escape her father's grueling survival training, bizarre rules, and gruesome punishments. She and her brother Cole flee the grounds for the first time in their lives, suddenly homeless in a world they know nothing about. After months of hiding out, they are arrested for shoplifting and a shocking discovery is made, resulting in the pair being separated.
Avery is alone and desperate. She is uncertain if her "parents" survived the fire and is terrified to find out. But when the police investigation reveals there may be more survivors, Avery must uncover the truth about the fire to truly be free.
Suspenseful, emotionally charged, and deeply thought-provoking, After We Were Stolen delves into the idea of family―those we're born into and those we make―resilience, and the lengths a cult survivor will go to finally be free of her painful past.
The first part of the book was slow. Very slow. It was well written throughout, but the first part struggled to grab my attention. As soon as I got past that, the story grabbed me by the shoulders and held me steady until it was over. I actually yelled: "What?! NOOO!!" When I turned the page and was met with "Acknowledgements." If you're a reader, you understand the heartbreak that comes with reading a story that you absolutely love and then it just...ends. Logically speaking, you know it has to end at some point. The book can't go on forever. That doesn't make it hurt any less.
For a debut novel, this was absolutely fire. So well done. I read that Brooke came up with this idea from a writing contest and even though she didn't win the contest, the main character's voice was still so very loud and demanding to be heard. I think some of the best stories are happy accidents or ones you stumble upon unintentionally. This one is no different. Let's take a closer look at what I liked vs. what I didn't like about After We Were Stolen
So like I briefly mentioned in "My thoughts", this book took a while to really kickstart. The first 30% of the book really didn't grab my attention the way I was hoping. I do realize that since the story was being told a bit differently, this first part was used for contrast and context (maybe. Idk)
But honestly, it was boring. I kept pushing through it because it was so well written, and I am glad I did otherwise I would have missed the rest of it. I also know that I am somewhat impatient so if a story takes a while to wind up, I tend to get annoyed. However, that annoyance quickly fades if the rest of the story makes up for it. In this case, it did.
The story was well written. I am sure I have said that way too many times by now, but I believe it's an important point. After reading a story recently that was trying (and failing) so hard to be a literary masterpiece, this was refreshing. Brooke focused on telling the story and in the end, that really worked in her favor. There were a few times, as I was reading, that I looked up and blinked in surprise. I had been so engrossed in the story that I had expected to look up and be IN the field or IN the halfway house with Avery. It was a complete shock to the system when I realized I was actually sitting at my desk. A book that can pull you into the story so hard that you forget where you are is a rare, but very special experience.
The cult seemed to be well researched. Cults are scary and hard to wrap your head around from the outside. Some of it that would seem far-fetched and unusual to us, is regular everyday life for them. I appreciated that this was an inside look at the mindset of some of the victims of a cult.
There was a little twisty twist in the end that I kinda saw coming but was interested in seeing play out. For the sake of spoilers, I won't say what it was, but it was well done! I knew it was going to happen but was still a bit surprised.
Do I recommend this book? Definitely. For a debut, this was incredibly well written. I look forward to reading more work from this author. If you want to check it out, you can grab it on Amazon or at your local bookstore. If you do decide to read it, please come back and let me know your thoughts on it. Did you like it? Did it take a little bit longer to wind up for you too? I can't wait to hear from you!
Happy Reading Babes!