An actress and producer, who suffered from crippling, undiagnosed depression in her teens, recounts her harrowing experience of psychological manipulation and abuse at a "therapeutic" boarding school where every moment was a test of survival, and shares how she was able to heal in the aftermath.
... heartbreaking and eye-opening ... There were several instances where I had to put the book down because I would get so worked up over what the teachers put the kids through. Every moment that Gilpin didn’t give up, every moment that Gilpin decided the school wouldn’t break her, I cheered her on, revelling in her fierceness and determination to see those days through and maintain what little freedom she had ... Every raw emotion, every feeling of guilt and sadness and anger, I could feel. Gilpin’s emotions jump off the page, weaving more depth into the story than if it had been told more like an autobiography than like a diary. I sympathised greatly with Gilpin through every single page as she outlined the desperation and betrayal she felt towards her parents. Gilpin is incredibly strong to have survived all of what she went through and equally strong to pick herself back up again after spiralling and choosing to tell her story. Telling others of, and acknowledging, the dark things of your past can be extremely painful, but I’m proud of Gilpin for taking the leap and choosing to let the world know of the horrid system that almost killed her ... This book stayed with me long after I finished reading. The story is simultaneously heartbreaking and encouraging ... Overall, I give Stolen a 10/10 for its raw, powerful, and moving message, and for the sheer bravery of Gilpin for taking a stand and telling her truth. This is definitely an important story that will open the eyes of many and bring to light the ugly truth of therapeutic boarding schools and the twisted systems that keep them running.
... gripping ... Gilpin revisits her terror and trauma so she can shine a light on the extraordinary and dehumanizing practices of the therapeutic boarding school industry. Gripping and detailed, Stolen will linger long for readers as both a survival story and powerful testament ... At times a reader wishes for more clarity in the later chapters of Elizabeth’s life, especially in terms of how she came to terms with her family, whom she thanks in the book’s acknowledgments. Yet "Stolen" succeeds with its graphic portrayal of Carlbrook’s methods, raising important questions about consent, age and agency.
The relentless abuse makes for difficult reading, and only a small portion of the book is dedicated to Gilpin’s life after graduation and her eventual recovery from the trauma. So, while not exactly hopeful, Stolen is definitely eye-opening and memorable.