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The File on Angelyn Stark

The File on Angelyn Stark is a YA contemporary fiction novel by Catherine Atkins.

Fifteen-year-old Angelyn once had a neighbor that cared. She was almost like a grandma. But when her real grandson saw something – or thought he saw something – and lied about it, Angelyn’s whole life was ruined.

Now, her mother hates her. It seems everything is blamed on Angelyn.

Her stepdad won’t even look at her anymore.

Rumors swirl around the school that encourage her boyfriend to treat her like crap – and gets all of her friends to abandon her.

The only person that seems to like her – to think she might be worth something – is her World Cultures teacher, Mr. Rossi. He tells her she’s smart, that she just needs to try. He’s nice – like her neighbor used to be, before her Mom bullied her out of the neighborhood.

He doesn’t even act like a teacher.

He acts like a friend…

I read Catherine Atkins’ When Jeff Comes Home many years ago and have never forgotten its haunting impact. It was an amazingly disturbing, convincing novel about readjusting after years of being a kidnap victim. Quite something.

The File on Angelyn Stark puts you in an uncomfortable position from the get-go. When Angelyn is with her “friends” she’s an unlikable bully. But as more layers are revealed you begin to see her as an incredibly damaged, neglected girl that is horribly confused.

Catherine Atkins is good at making books distressingly painful, the darkly realistic nature highlighting people at their worst. It’s so very sad as more and more is revealed of Angelyn’s past. This is definitely a unembellished, uncompromising portrait of an abused girl.

It was a fast read and in many ways gripping, but the ending felt incomplete to me. I was left wanting more. I didn’t feel as satisfied as I wanted, it just kind of cut off. But that’s just my opinion.

The File on Angelyn Stark is well-written and heartbreaking, but – for me – not as powerful as it could’ve been if it had had more pages.

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