Thursday, January 28, 2010

Julie's Review: Standing Still

Summary: Starred Review. What mother wouldn't sacrifice herself for her child? In Simmons's electrifying debut, the answer is delivered through the harrowing ordeal of a mother held for ransom by an anonymous kidnapper. A former globetrotting journalist now working for a Midwest TV station, Claire has a comfortable life with her husband, Sam, a successful co-owner of a PR/marketing firm, and their three young daughters, but she's unhappy with Sam and struggles with a secret past. On one of the frequent nights Sam isn't home, an intruder crashes through the skylight of the couple's newly renovated house. The man planned to kidnap their oldest girl, but Claire persuades him to take her instead. An intense bond develops between Claire and her abductor, a widower mourning the loss of his wife, during the eerie seven-day odyssey that follows. As Claire waits for the ransom to be paid, she faces some hard truths about the choices everyone makes that sometimes require lies to endure. The perfect read for a stormy night, Simmons's suspenseful tale contains nary a wasted

Review: Claire is a runner and I don't mean the exercise type. Frankly, I'm amazed that she's been married to Sam for 10 years. She doesn't stay in any relationship very long and doesn't regret it. Maybe she's amazed she's been with Sam for that amount of time as well. I truly liked Claire. I "got" her, well not the anxiety disorder, but the rest of her I understood. The reflection on her life before kids and before Sam. Don't we all do that? Don't we all wonder? Standing Still isn't like any other novel I've read. Sure it's a thriller, but it's more than that; it's a journey into a women's soul as she tries to find out who she is and what it is that she wants.

The book starts off with someone breaking into Sam and Claire's newly renovated house and it never lets up. Immediately you know that Claire has secrets and some pretty dark ones. The robber is really a kidnapper coming for their oldest daughter, instead Claire insists that he takes her. He does and that's where the majority of the story comes from.

I don't want to get into details about the book because it will give away key plot points but the story is immaculately told. I couldn't wait to see what happened and unfolded. The biggest question throughout the book was "Who is David?" That resolution wasn't too surprising but it did keep me on pins and needles waiting to find out. You kind of piece it together by they way Ms. Simmons writes the novel. It's not so much who David is, as it is what he wants with Claire. It's more about Claire and what she could have done to have this man David after her. To have her so scared that she has an anxiety disorder.

We learn a lot about Claire during the time she's in the hotel with her capture. What I found is that some of her thoughts are probably something all of us women think on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, especially if you are married with kids.

I have to comment on one thing that dawned on me about 1/2 way through the novel. When referring to the kidnapper, it was always expressed as "He", with the H always capitalized. I don't know about the rest of you but to me that was always reserved for Jesus Christ. Here's my thinking, Claire thinks of the kidnapper as her savior and perhaps he was in way or another.

The book deals with some pretty interesting psychological issues: anxiety disorders and Stockholm Syndrome. Both are what really sets the book apart from other's in the genre. I mean, if you were in a hotel room with a kidnapper and the worst thing they did to you was tie you up, wouldn't you want to make the best of it and maybe align yourself with them? You would, if it meant survival.

The ending isn't a neat bow but you do close the book and know that in the end Claire will be ok and she will come out stronger.

Final Take: 4.5/5

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