By Michelle Davidson Argyle
Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
When Naomi Jensen is kidnapped, it takes her parents two days to realize she’s missing. Escape isn’t high on her list of priorities when all she has to return to is an abusive boyfriend and parents who never paid much attention to her. For the first time in her life she’s part of a family—even if it is a family of criminals. But she’s still a captive. In a desperate attempt to regain some control in her life, Naomi embarks on a dangerous plan to make one of her kidnappers think she’s falling in love with him. The plan works too well, and when faced with the chance to escape, Naomi isn’t sure she wants to take it.
The last fictional book I read about a kidnapping that had any hints of psychological torture or Stockholm Syndrome was Precious and Fragile Things by Megan Hart and it was so emotionally shocking, I banned any books about the subject from my Kindle until now. Knowing there’s probably no way for the stories to end perfectly, I still always hope against hope they won’t end disastrously and at least with The Breakaway, I knew there was a sequel with more of the story to look forward to. So in a really awful way, if Davidson Argyle is going to torture me with this one, at least she’s going to have to drag it out over two books.
The story begins abruptly with seventeen-year-old Naomi already in the hands of her kidnappers without any explanation. She’s bound, blinded and confused and she doesn’t even remember what she saw until her captors let it slip. They make a call and decide they have to keep her with them for a while longer, so Naomi officially becomes a missing person.
The story is spread out over a year and while nearly all of it is told at the kidnappers’ house, later in the book there are some parts with Naomi’s parents. The two men that grabbed her, Eric and Jesse, had been in the middle of committing a crime. Eric’s sister Evelyn and her husband Stephen also lived in the house where they took her and were in on the plan to keep her for as long as necessary. Eric was the scary guy who kept threatening Naomi, while Evelyn was her “friend,” always making sure she had her little luxuries, had someone to talk to and could second-guess her moods and how to play them. Jesse was The Crush – the younger guy who Naomi knew she ought to stay away from who was unreasonably nice to her. They all kept her off-balance and wondering if her cold, sterile home life was any better than seemingly (usual) average family who abducted her.
I had mixed feelings about every character from the beginning to the end of the book, which I’m hoping was something the author intended. I didn’t really even trust Naomi or her feelings about anything, she didn’t seem to have a lot of her own opinions or individuality even before she was taken. I was always aware Naomi was being manipulated by Eric, Evelyn and/or Jesse on some level, but there was a part of me that kept hoping at X point it had ended and they’d started thinking of her as family. I didn’t really like Jesse as her potential love interest. I thought he was wishy-washy, as bland plain white toast and not particularly noble. Nothing he did was that romantic, even if you took away the possibility he was only doing it make Naomi fall in love with him unfairly.
What made Naomi more willing to being kept is gradually revealed and it’s a good thing it’s not put out there in the beginning because I’d have never believed she didn’t want to go home because her Mom and Dad were too busy to spend time with her. Letting it come out later, after she was starved for companionship and only had Evelyn, made me more sympathetic. It didn’t seem like her parents’ transformation should have taken a year though. I thought their story could have taken two months if Naomi’s was going to take a year.
There are all sorts of lingering emotional issues about Naomi’s captivity and her relationship with her parents to work through while she’s at it. As a single book, The Breakaway raised some interesting questions about kidnapping victims and what kind of people would take someone and think they could make her want to stay. I didn’t trust anyone in the story, which is where nearly all of the conflict and tension came from, since there isn’t much action. February 19th, I’m going to be part of the tour for Pieces, the sequel to The Breakaway, and I’m very interested to see where Argyle Davidson can take Naomi and Jesse’s story. It ended on an odd note, one that’s going to take quite a bit of creative license to fix.
My Rating: B