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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Family is a contemporary thriller novel written by Deborah Ryan Stone. Meg Kenyon was a typical 16-year-old junior high student. Being friendly and outgoing, she was fairly popular in school. Each morning, she enjoyed the brief walk she took to school. On the way, she’d stop by and see Sam, the German Shepherd puppy she had befriended, and use the time spent walking to plan her day and prepare for her classes. She never noticed the dark blue pickup truck that was parked on the route to her school. If she had, she might have realized that it had been parked there every morning for about a month now. After greeting Sam’s human companion, Mrs. Washington, Meg continued on her way. As she approached the street corner, she waited for the pickup truck to make the turn in front of her, but the driver stopped and asked her about his lost dog. Meg recognized the man as someone from the neighborhood that she had regularly seen walking a dog -- they had even exchanged greetings on occasion. So, she didn’t see a problem with his request that she take some of his lost-dog flyers and pass them out on her way to school. It was the biggest mistake she had ever made, she realized, after he pushed her into the passenger side of the truck and sped away. Meg tried not to panic -- she began to think about everything that was happening and everything she could do to try to survive.
Deborah Ryan Stone’s dramatic thriller, The Family, is a taut and suspenseful look at the scenario every parent fears each time their child is a few minutes late from school or play. Stone’s story focuses on both Meg’s terrified parents as they each cope in their own ways with their daughter’s disappearance as well as describing Meg’s own experiences after her kidnapping by the unpredictable and violent man who wants her to call him Pop. Watching as Meg masters her own fears and focuses all her energy and will on surviving her ordeal keeps the reader fully invested in the story and wondering, along with Meg, just how she’ll stay alive and unhurt long enough to be found again. Stone’s story had me remembering the true-life stories of children who were abducted and raised by their captors and getting, for the first time, a real sense of what those young boys and girls, and their parents, go through. Stone’s writing style fits the seriousness of her subject perfectly, and she keeps her focus sharp on the suspenseful aspects of the tale, making it a cracking good thriller novel. The Family is most highly recommended.