Friday, March 04, 2011

Young Adult: Held by Edeet Ravel

There is a sense of desperation and emergency that fills every corner of Held (Annick Press) bestselling novelist Edeet Ravel’s novel of exploration of suspense and Stockholm Syndrome. Though Ravel’s language is strong and sometimes poetic, Held pushes this particular form to its very limits.

Seventeen-year-old Chloe and her best friend are spending the summer as part of a volunteer program in Greece. Greece is fantastic: everything the two girls had hoped it would be, and more. That is, right up until the time Chloe is kidnapped and confined in a warehouse.

Since the kidnapping takes place on page 20, it’s not giving anything away to tell you these things. The book is not about the kidnapping. Rather, it deals with the result of this act of emotional violence on young Chloe’s psyche as well as how such a thing can be dealt with and what, in a way, it can mean.

Ravel has been nominated for the Giller Prize (for 2005’s A Wall of Light) and the Governor General’s Award (for Ten Thousand Lovers in 2003) so the lyricism in Held comes as no surprise. The story here is simple; straight-forward. Ravel’s handling of her material is more complex. There are many issues at play in Held: some of them more apparent than others and Ravel handles all of it very well. ◊

Sienna Powers is a transplanted Calgarian who lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer and conceptual artist.

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