15 March 2013

Audiobook Friday #15: Review - Gemma by Meg Tilly

Gemma by Meg Tilly

Published: 1 October 2006

Pages: 271 (paperback)

Genre/s: Contemporary

Audio Version
Published: 1 January 2008 by Meg Tilly
Narrated by Meg Tilly
Length: 7 hours, 18 minutes


After Hazen Wood kidnaps 12 year-old Gemma Sullivan, the two embark upon a cross-country journey that tests the limits of Gemma's endurance. In graphic scenes of physical and sexual violence, Hazen tries to destroy the young girl's will. 

It is only Gemma's childlike resilience and fertile imagination that protect her from the worst of the abuse she suffers. And in the end, the healing power of unconditional love gives Gemma the courage to speak out against her abuser at last - reclaiming her dignity as a human being.

My Thoughts

I hate to start a review with a warning, but I feel I need to - this is a graphic, explict, disturbing book.  Meg Tilly holds nothing back, so if you are easily upset by child sexual abuse, please seriously consider whether this book is for you.  On the other hand, if you are a reader of 'tough issues' books, this is a book that will stretch you to the limits.

Gemma herself is the bright shining light of this book - right from the beginning I adored her stream of conciousness ramblings, positive outlook on life and infectious enthusiasm for whatever took her fancy.  Despite her rough upbringing, she herself glosses over the sadder parts of her life, instead focusing as much as possible on good, safe things.

It's when Gemma is kidnapped by Hazen Woods that things take a truly dark turn.  Told partly through Gemma's perspective, and partly through Hazen's, Gemma uses her imagination to escape from the terrible reality of what is happening to her.

I won't give away the ending, but it was tense, emotional and ultimately a story about the power of love, positive thinking and facing up to demons to build a better, stronger life with more than a bit of hope for Gemma's future.

This is a tough book, there's no doubt about it, and there were times that I nearly had to stop reading and step away to recover my own emotions.  But I am very glad that I read it, and although I can't with any kind of concience use the word enjoyed, it was in the end a rewarding read through which I 'met' a character that I truly admired, and discovered an author who tells a story with such passion and love that I can't wait to read more of her work.

The Audio Version

Gemma is probably the best audiobook that I've listened to in the past year.  Meg Tilly doesn't just read her story, she tells it with such passion and emotion that it's hard to believe that it's not Gemma and Hazen telling their stories.  Such is the level of narration that you can almost hear the tears, the anger, the panic from both characters, but most particularly Gemma and it endeared her to me even more.


  1. I did not know Meg Tilly was an Author. Great review btw!

    1. Haha! I didn't know she was an actress ;)

  2. I feel like I'm going to need to start my review of Pretty Girl-13 with that same warning. It's so intense. eeeeep

    1. I found this one to be far more intense than Pretty Girl-13 - that one I could get through without wanting to step away :)

  3. It's really impressive that Tilly not only wrote the book but narrated it as well. I think only the author could put as much passion and intensity into it as you described. As for the subject matter, I have a feeling this would be a tough one to take on for just about anyone and I'm not sure I'd have the willpower (or enough tissues) to get me through the audio version. I think I'll be sticking with the book version, if I do read it, just to play it safe; however, I'm really happy that it's so tactfully and tastefully done.

    1. The only other author narration that comes close is Neil Gaiman.

      This is the ultimate in intense reading, it takes a lot to shake me, but this one really got to me.

  4. And to think I haven't ever heard of this book. It sounds really good and maybe I will buy it as my very first audiobook from audible. :)

    Loved the review, Kat. Keep these unknown gems coming.



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