I genuinely feel very torn about Taken Away by Cyn Bermudez. I think this comes down to two things. The book was very short and it was written in e-mail/letter format. Now, I’m not against epistolary novels, but something about this one didn’t really click with me for some reason. Taken Away follows the story of two young boys in the foster system after their mother has been arrested for theft.
Both Isaac and Victor find themselves separated, sent to completely different homes and forced to acclimate to a new life without each other. As for their sisters, the two girls have been placed in the same foster home but separate from their brothers. Ironically, though, we rarely hear about them at all throughout the course of the novel.
I genuinely believe that this is a story that needs to be told, that young children in these situation should have access to books they can relate to. However, I’m not sure how much this book is going to do. It’s very short, follows a rather frustrating format that doesn’t really allow for the most realistic of depictions. Not only are the e-mails not what I would expect from an 11 and 12 year old, but they also force the author to relay certain details in a manner which frankly just wouldn’t happen.
When I reached the end of the novel, I felt lost as though the other half of the book had somehow not been included by some potential computer error. It was such an odd place to end the book, leaving a rather ridiculous cliffhanger and not really offering a whole lot of closure for anything.
We’re left in limbo just as the characters are, wondering where the story will go and what will happen next. And frankly, though I feel this could represent a sort of metaphor for how it feels to be in the foster system, I’m just not entirely sure that’s really all too helpful to kids reading this book because they relate to it. I doubt they need yet another thing in their life to simply be hanging up in the air and them helpless to do anything about it.
There wasn’t really any time for the characters to develop, but I hope they would have if there had been. And I guess, at the end of the day, Taken Away needed a lot more depth and length to it than it had and unfortunately the book suffered greatly for it.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.