Circle Nineby Anne Heltzel
Abby doesn't remember what happened the night she woke up in soot-stained clothes, lying next to a burning building with an unfamiliar boy at her side. But her connection with Sam is immediate and intense. And she has no one else: no family, no home, not even a last name. She and Sam start a new life, just the two of them, and Abby's deliriously happy. Until memories from her past begin to haunt her?-?and suddenly everything she's learned to love turns sinister. It's only a matter of time before her reality cracks apart.
With explorations of addiction, homelessness, and abuse, this book touches on some of society’s weightiest issues. This is a title for teens who like their fiction serious and gritty.
—School Library Journal
Abby lives in a lavishly decorated secret cave in the woods, doted on by the handsome and mysterious Sam. She's free to sketch all day, losing herself in her artwork, mythology and the classic literature Sam loves to read aloud. She wonders about her life before she met Sam, but the details are too fuzzy to pin down, and everything seems perfect as she basks in the glow of Sam's affection and care. Leaving their snug hideaway to uncover the truth is out of the question, anyway, because Sam fears Abby will be attacked by the evil denizens of the world outside, which he's dubbed Circle Nine, after Dante's most intimidating Circle of Hell. His reasoning doesn't hold up: Abby notes that Sam leaves the cave to get "medicine" from his "doctor," Sid, while Amanda, another Circle Nine resident, turns up to live in the cave, too. Amanda makes Abby question her perceptions of the cave, the food they eat, even Sam's motivations. Astute readers will have sussed out most of Sam's problems and Abby's past well before her memories trickle, then surge back, eliminating the urgency and suspense essential to any psychological thriller's success.
Abby and Sam's tragic story is better suited to tearjerker fans than die-hard thriller readers. (Mystery. 14 & up)
Meet the Author
Anne Heltzel earned an MFA in creative writing from the New School. She says of her debut novel: "I wrote Circle Nine shortly after moving to Mumbai, India, where I lived for a year and a half. It was a surreal and isolating experience at first, giving up my job and friends to move to a country I'd never even seen before. Nevertheless, the magic of the city was ever-present; my reality had, in a sense, changed entirely. This all contributed to the creation of Sam and Abby's cave-palace." Anne Heltzel lives in New York City.
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This is not an easy review for me. When a story deals with abusive relationships, I normally don't read them. Books with sexual abuse or drug addiction usually a hard read for me. But this book was on my new release list, so I said I'd give it try. I'm so glad I did. I really did fall in love with the story between Sam and Abby. I would have liked to have known more of what happened to Sam, seen more of a resolution for him. Sam really grabbed a hold of my heart and I couldn't let him go. The choices he made took him down a road he could never return from, but I still thought of him as messed-up little boy that I wanted to love and fix. I was, however, happy to see that Abby's terrifying experience made her a better person from where she first started in this story. Anne Heltzel has an amazing way of writing about a subject I have a difficult have a hard time reading about. This is a very serious and dramatic situation between Sam and Abby, so be ready with the tissue box. I will definitely be reading more of Anne Heltzel's books. Circle Nine is an amazing story and a definite must read!!
This story is a tragic narrative about trust and how you can never fully trust anyone but yourself in life. Circle Nine is exhilarating with its complex main character who sees only what she wants. The story is a bit creepy and daunting but its fun at the same time! I had a remarkable experience while reading it and felt everything that the main character did! I say read this story!
It was depressing. Definitely not what I expected. Not a bad read but much more serious than what I normally like.