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After We Were Stolen

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An emotionally wrought debut novel perfect for book clubs about a girl who escapes from a cult after a deadly fire destroys her family’s compound, only to be haunted by That Night as she tries to build a new life for herself. A fire. Her escape. And the realization her entire life has been a lie. When nineteen-year-old Avery awakens to flames consuming her family’s remote co An emotionally wrought debut novel perfect for book clubs about a girl who escapes from a cult after a deadly fire destroys her family’s compound, only to be haunted by That Night as she tries to build a new life for herself. A fire. Her escape. And the realization her entire life has been a lie. When nineteen-year-old Avery awakens to flames consuming her family’s remote compound, she knows it’s her only chance to escape her father’s grueling survival training, bizarre rules, and gruesome punishments. She and her brother Cole flee the grounds for the first time in their lives, suddenly homeless in a world they know nothing about. After months of hiding out, they are arrested for shoplifting and a shocking discovery is made—Avery and Cole were kidnapped fifteen years earlier, stolen by cult leaders they knew as Mom and Dad. Cole is immediately returned to his birth family, leaving Avery alone and desperate. She is uncertain if her “parents” survived the fire and is terrified to find out. The loss of Cole and the trauma of her former life threaten to undo her, but when the police investigation reveals there may be more survivors, Avery must uncover the truth about the fire to truly be free. Suspenseful, emotionally charged, and deeply thought-provoking, After We Were Stolen delves into the idea of family—those we’re born into and those we make—resilience, and the lengths a cult survivor will go to finally be free of her painful past. Brooke Beyfuss’s powerful debut novel sparkles with heart, grit, and extraordinary characters who will stay with you long after the last page.


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An emotionally wrought debut novel perfect for book clubs about a girl who escapes from a cult after a deadly fire destroys her family’s compound, only to be haunted by That Night as she tries to build a new life for herself. A fire. Her escape. And the realization her entire life has been a lie. When nineteen-year-old Avery awakens to flames consuming her family’s remote co An emotionally wrought debut novel perfect for book clubs about a girl who escapes from a cult after a deadly fire destroys her family’s compound, only to be haunted by That Night as she tries to build a new life for herself. A fire. Her escape. And the realization her entire life has been a lie. When nineteen-year-old Avery awakens to flames consuming her family’s remote compound, she knows it’s her only chance to escape her father’s grueling survival training, bizarre rules, and gruesome punishments. She and her brother Cole flee the grounds for the first time in their lives, suddenly homeless in a world they know nothing about. After months of hiding out, they are arrested for shoplifting and a shocking discovery is made—Avery and Cole were kidnapped fifteen years earlier, stolen by cult leaders they knew as Mom and Dad. Cole is immediately returned to his birth family, leaving Avery alone and desperate. She is uncertain if her “parents” survived the fire and is terrified to find out. The loss of Cole and the trauma of her former life threaten to undo her, but when the police investigation reveals there may be more survivors, Avery must uncover the truth about the fire to truly be free. Suspenseful, emotionally charged, and deeply thought-provoking, After We Were Stolen delves into the idea of family—those we’re born into and those we make—resilience, and the lengths a cult survivor will go to finally be free of her painful past. Brooke Beyfuss’s powerful debut novel sparkles with heart, grit, and extraordinary characters who will stay with you long after the last page.

30 review for After We Were Stolen

  1. 4 out of 5

    GirlWithThePinkSkiMask

    HAPPY PUB DAY TO THIS BANGER OF A DEBUT!!! Go get yourself a copy!!!! Not only can Brooke Beyfuss write, but she is a lovely person. Thank you SOURCEBOOKS Landmark and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book before publication. Writing: 4.5/5 - Plot: 4/5 - Ending: 4/5 TRIGGER WARNING SA THE PLOT Avery and Colt finally escape hell aka the compound they were raised in. When they're caught shoplifting, it turns out they're actually missing kids who were stolen by the cult leaders. Cole HAPPY PUB DAY TO THIS BANGER OF A DEBUT!!! Go get yourself a copy!!!! Not only can Brooke Beyfuss write, but she is a lovely person. Thank you SOURCEBOOKS Landmark and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book before publication. Writing: 4.5/5 - Plot: 4/5 - Ending: 4/5 TRIGGER WARNING SA THE PLOT Avery and Colt finally escape hell aka the compound they were raised in. When they're caught shoplifting, it turns out they're actually missing kids who were stolen by the cult leaders. Cole returns to his parents, but Avery is forced to navigate her new life from a woman's shelter while trying to figure out what really happened that night. MY OPINION I can't tell you how relieved I am to read a book that's legitimately well-written. After my streak of absolute duds, reading a coherent, poignant sentence was like drinking a cold glass of water on a hot ass day. Brooke Beyfuss is a CREATIVE writer. Instead of using the same old descriptive prose ("she was a short, blonde woman with a porcelain face and pinched lips"), Beyfuss' descriptive writing was original. I found myself highlighting several sentences—and not for my usual reasons which is to add a note saying WTF IS THIS??—but because it struck me as unique. I'm usually not a fan of overly descriptive writing, but I don't mind it when the quality and originality is there. I don't want to read a play-by-play of someone making a lasagna. Be warned though—if you're looking for a thriller with sharp turns and twists and nonstop action, this is not for you. Because Beyfuss can actually write, she doesn't need to rely on shock value of cheap unrealistic twists. Her writing quality takes you on a journey of love, loss, grief, recovery, resilience, rebirth, and everything in between. The ending could be classified as "shocking", but this isn't your mainstream The Wife Between Us type of book. This is a thoughtful exploration of the human psyche; what causes us to break, what motivates us to pick up the pieces and soldier on, and how to decipher between reality REALITY or the reality you've constructed as a coping mechanism. I don't really have any complaints about the book overall. The writing quality was on point, which is my #1 gripe with most books I read. The only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars is because the first 30% of so describing life on the compound was a little too much in terms of describing mundane activities like harvesting and trying to start a fire. If the "before" section was shortened in half, it would've made no difference to the plot, but would've made a world of difference to the reader in terms of pacing. I also felt the ending was too abrupt and unsatisfying. I wanted a happier ending, for Avery and Cole. They deserved it. PROS AND CONS Pros: Wonderful writing Cons: Abrupt ending, the first chunk of the book too weighed down by long descriptions of mundane activities

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sujoya

    “Prepare, endure, and thrive,” Our protagonist, nineteen-year-old Avery is one of twelve members living in a secluded survivalist commune, “Clovelite”. Their “Father” is the dominant male in the group. The children are trained in survival skills, harshly disciplined, and “prepped” for doomsday because “Nothing on the outside was going to last. We would last.” However, as the narrative progresses Avery is subject to much abuse and cruelty on the instruction of her Father, apparently in the greater “Prepare, endure, and thrive,” Our protagonist, nineteen-year-old Avery is one of twelve members living in a secluded survivalist commune, “Clovelite”. Their “Father” is the dominant male in the group. The children are trained in survival skills, harshly disciplined, and “prepped” for doomsday because “Nothing on the outside was going to last. We would last.” However, as the narrative progresses Avery is subject to much abuse and cruelty on the instruction of her Father, apparently in the greater interest of their commune. When a fire wipes out the whole commune, Avery and her sixteen-year-old brother Cole are known to be the only survivors. They escape the compound and relying on their survival skills manage to fend for themselves “out there” for almost three months before they are arrested for shoplifting. In a shocking turn of events, they are identified as missing children, who were abducted years ago from their respective families presumably by the cult members. Cole’s parents claim him and Avery is left to pick up the pieces and get her life together in a shelter. Her life as she knew it had been a lie – her “parents” were kidnappers, Cole was not her real brother and "Avery" wasn't even her real name. Excessive media attention and the mysterious circumstances that led to the horrific fire also cause concern. The local police harbor suspicions regarding the cause of the fire that caused the death of the cult members as Avery struggles to piece together the events of that fateful night. “I wasn’t who I became, and I wasn’t who I was when I disappeared. I was a hybrid person, caught in limbo between what I thought I knew and what was true.” Needless to say, this is not an easy read and has some extremely dark and disturbing moments. However, as we follow Avery as she tries to accept and overcome the upheaval in her life and attempt to move forward, we also see moments of hope, friendship, support and above all courage and resilience. Much attention is given to the emotional and psychological aspects of Avery’s efforts to cope with her traumatic past and accept her new reality. The build-up towards the final revelation is very well-executed. With its superb characterizations, well-developed plot structure and progression and powerful writing, After We Were Stolen by Brooke Beyfuss is an impressive debut. The ending did feel a bit abrupt but does not detract from the overall reading experience. I found this to be an absorbing read and finished it in one day. The Author’s Note at the very beginning of the book includes trigger warnings for the content in the novel - a kind and considerate gesture on the part of the author that I truly appreciate. I received a digital review copy of this novel from Sourcebooks Landmark and NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kaceey

    Oh so deeply dark…. Fond of books about cults and doomsday preppers? Then you mustn’t miss out on this latest offering. Heads up though…it’s seriously disturbing. Avery and Cole are living in a secluded compound with their large family. Their father keeps them separated from the outside world while also developing a method that will ensure that no one leaves either! But an all-consuming fire is about to change everything, giving the Avery and Cole an opportunity to make their escape. But is Avery e Oh so deeply dark…. Fond of books about cults and doomsday preppers? Then you mustn’t miss out on this latest offering. Heads up though…it’s seriously disturbing. Avery and Cole are living in a secluded compound with their large family. Their father keeps them separated from the outside world while also developing a method that will ensure that no one leaves either! But an all-consuming fire is about to change everything, giving the Avery and Cole an opportunity to make their escape. But is Avery even prepared for the outside world? This book has such potential to be unnerving for some readers that the author added a note at the beginning to warn the reader of what was ahead. I have to say this may be one of the most gut-wrenching, cult themed books I’ve read. The author did an amazing job of showing what life was like for Avery (and her brother Cole) both inside the cult and life in the real world. Hard to believe this is a debut for this author. Looking forward to seeing what she has in store for us next! Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark

  4. 4 out of 5

    Misty Marie Harms

    I am going to do a bunch of people a favor. If you are looking for a feel good read with a happy ending, then walk over to your window, open it, and toss this book out. Bonus points if you live in a house or building with more than two stories. If you are still here, I hope you have some tissues because Beyfuss is about to traumatize your life. Avery lives in a cult. In fact, Avery's family is the whole cult because Avery's daddy has apparent trust issues. I mean of course he is out of his mind I am going to do a bunch of people a favor. If you are looking for a feel good read with a happy ending, then walk over to your window, open it, and toss this book out. Bonus points if you live in a house or building with more than two stories. If you are still here, I hope you have some tissues because Beyfuss is about to traumatize your life. Avery lives in a cult. In fact, Avery's family is the whole cult because Avery's daddy has apparent trust issues. I mean of course he is out of his mind because hello he is a cult leader. Some terrible things happen to Avery, and by the fourth chapter you will search Google for online therapists. A fire erupts, giving way to an escape for Avery and her brother Cole. They try the homeless life for a hot minute until they get arrested. Then all kinds of hell breaks loose. Avery and Cole discover a horrible secret that will destroy their lives forever. You really want to cheer Avery on and hope she lives her best life. Sadly, Beyfuss cares not a fig what you want. I might have to double up on my depression meds for a week now. This book is gritty, raw and puts real trauma in the light. I recommend reading it if you can handle serious trauma.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susan's Reviews

    Fantastical, tragic... horrifying. These were the thoughts that weighed down my heart and my mind as I sat down to write this review. I mourned right along with Avery and Cole as they each recalled that fateful night - no spoilers here. I went into this story blind, and the impact was that much greater. Fans of The Walking Dead will recognize similar themes and tropes. (I had to stop watching that series because the violence escalated beyond endurance for me - another ratings gimmick, in my opini Fantastical, tragic... horrifying. These were the thoughts that weighed down my heart and my mind as I sat down to write this review. I mourned right along with Avery and Cole as they each recalled that fateful night - no spoilers here. I went into this story blind, and the impact was that much greater. Fans of The Walking Dead will recognize similar themes and tropes. (I had to stop watching that series because the violence escalated beyond endurance for me - another ratings gimmick, in my opinion.) Oh, the horrors that humanity inflicts on itself. I can honestly say that I am down in the dumps after having read this well written novel. This story just about broke my heart: I'm sure atrocities like this happen on the regular. Why are we humans so vicious and inhumane? Makes you lose all hope for us. . . . . . . . During the first months of COVID, I switched off from television, the news and exposure to too much media. Previous to COVID, I had already become disenchanted with hyped up newscasts and television programming in general. Therefore, I identified a fair bit with how Avery and Cole must have felt once they became inundated with the repetitive and strident news flashes from the many forms of media during the "after" phase of their lives. Usually, when I am forced to watch news feeds while sitting in a waiting room, I can't wait to get back home to relative peace and quiet and switch off again. I listened to this audiobook while I walked on the Humber Trail. I have to say that I am glad I did this because this is a very dark, often violent story. My face was a veritable thundercloud at times, so dire was Avery's predicament. I tend to bounce back from these types of negative moods - eventually, so not to worry, but I am going to pace myself with these types of soul-destroying story lines. My heart can only take so much of man's inhumanity to man. I prefer to stay hopeful, to believe that there are plenty of good people left in this world. Avery was able to find a few of those good people to help her on her journey to healing, but will she ever find true peace? The reader is left hopeful for her, and for that I was grateful. I'm rating this one a 4.3 out of 5 stars. My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. TRIGGER WARNING: Rape Abduction Indoctrination

  6. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    Nineteen-year-old, Avery and her sixteen-year-old brother, Cole are the survivors when their family's remote compound burned to the ground. They had been living there while preparing for the end. Their father was preparing them for survival using harsh treatment, control, threats, abuse, and fear. Although Avery and Cole have been groomed for "survival" by their father, they are not prepared to survive once they flee from the flames. When they are arrested for shoplifting, the revelations come i Nineteen-year-old, Avery and her sixteen-year-old brother, Cole are the survivors when their family's remote compound burned to the ground. They had been living there while preparing for the end. Their father was preparing them for survival using harsh treatment, control, threats, abuse, and fear. Although Avery and Cole have been groomed for "survival" by their father, they are not prepared to survive once they flee from the flames. When they are arrested for shoplifting, the revelations come in - they had both been kidnapped fifteen years earlier! Avery is left alone after Cole's family comes to take him 'home'. What does it really mean to survive? What makes a family? This book explores trauma and cults and how they control. Cults are fascinating to me as was this story. I appreciated how the Author explored what happens when one leaves/escapes a cult. What happens when confronted with the truth. Cole and Avery were both very young and raised by "father" and this was all that they knew. Their reactions to learning the truth, felt authentic and realistic. I felt for both and their plight both while on the compound and after. This book was not an easy read. There are things in the book which are upsetting. But there is also hope for the two characters. This was a very well thought out and executed book. I listened to the audiobook and thought the narrator did a very good job. Well written and thought provoking. #AfterWeWereStolen #NetGalley. Thank you to Dreamscape Media and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  7. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    For a debut work, I found this one was quite impressive. I'm generally all in on the cult trope, and for the most part, this one did not disappoint. When a fire at the survivalist compound kills everyone in the family except Avery, and her younger brother, Cole, they believe that they have finally escaped their oppressive, abusive lives. They are resourceful, so living alone in the woods is easy for them - except for their hunger. But when they are caught shoplifting, they discover that they are For a debut work, I found this one was quite impressive. I'm generally all in on the cult trope, and for the most part, this one did not disappoint. When a fire at the survivalist compound kills everyone in the family except Avery, and her younger brother, Cole, they believe that they have finally escaped their oppressive, abusive lives. They are resourceful, so living alone in the woods is easy for them - except for their hunger. But when they are caught shoplifting, they discover that they are both actually missing children who were stolen by their "parents" as young children. As Cole is a minor, he is returned to his parents, but Avery, who is an adult with no family to be found, has no choice but to live in a women's shelter. For Avery, adjusting to life outside of the cult without Cole, and accepting the life she knew in the cult was a deception, is more difficult than she every imagined. While a cult read, it is atypical (in a good way). The cult is really just one family - although a large, severely dysfunctional family and while the beginning of the book is about the cult, the crux of the story is about the aftermath of escaping. It is told through Avery's voice, which is brilliant, as you feel like you are along on Avery's journey with her. And even though I didn't find Avery's character overly likable most of the time, she felt authentic. Warning: there is heartbreaking abuse, and parts of the story are deeply disturbing; but Beyfuss relays them in a delicate manner that makes it readable, if that makes sense. I think my only gripe was with the ending. I didn't love it for some reason - perhaps it was because I didn't find any real shock value in the twist, or maybe I just didn't really care, as the story was much deeper than any "twist". Overall, this was a book that I couldn't put it down, but it was not an easy read. Ultimately though, the themes of resilience and the strength of the human spirit moved me and made me a fan of the book. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for this author's future works! 4 stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nancy (Trying to catch up with reviews)

    Avery and Cole live in a survivalist compound in Kansas with their large family. They are constantly reminded by their parents that they are the chosen ones. They are kept separated from the real world and are subjected to harsh survival training, rules and extreme punishments. One night a fire destroys their entire compound, but Avery and Cole manage to make it out alive. Fearful of the outside world, they are forced to use their survivalist skills and instincts to survive on their own. This boo Avery and Cole live in a survivalist compound in Kansas with their large family. They are constantly reminded by their parents that they are the chosen ones. They are kept separated from the real world and are subjected to harsh survival training, rules and extreme punishments. One night a fire destroys their entire compound, but Avery and Cole manage to make it out alive. Fearful of the outside world, they are forced to use their survivalist skills and instincts to survive on their own. This book was really hard to read in parts, but was really well-written. The psychological trauma and PTSD were realistically portrayed. I felt so much for Avery and Cole and I just wanted them to be ok. Emotionally heavy, there are lots of trigger warnings, but the author discusses these topics with care at the start of the book in the Author's Note as a heads up for the reader which was thoughtful of her to do. As is often the case for me, I think that the book synopsis should have left out some of the details. For me, this would have made the book have even more of an impact as I was reading it. My only other issue was that the ending felt abrupt, especially after the build up of the story. Overall, it is a really good debut full of emotion that speaks to the resilience of the human spirit despite facing such hardships. It would also be a good choice for a bookclub discussion. 4 stars. Many to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for my eARC.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jonann loves book talk❤♥️❤

    After We Were Stolen by Brooke Beyfuss captured my heart and flew away with it! The story is so compelling that I read it in one night. I felt immediately connected to the main characters in Beyfuss' writing and cared deeply about their difficult journey. Avery and Cole grew up in a large family compound. After their home is destroyed by fire, the two siblings escape the abusive situation. Due to their homelessness, they take shelter wherever they can find it and are arrested for theft. Under th After We Were Stolen by Brooke Beyfuss captured my heart and flew away with it! The story is so compelling that I read it in one night. I felt immediately connected to the main characters in Beyfuss' writing and cared deeply about their difficult journey. Avery and Cole grew up in a large family compound. After their home is destroyed by fire, the two siblings escape the abusive situation. Due to their homelessness, they take shelter wherever they can find it and are arrested for theft. Under the care of authorities Avery and Cole soon learn a life-changing secret. They were abducted as children by the cult leaders they knew as their parents. Their entire existence was a lie. After We Were Stolen is available on July 19th. I highly recommend reading it. You will be touched on the deepest emotional level by this book. After We Were Stolen is one of the most beautifully written and riveting novels of 2022! Kudos Brooke Beyfuss! (5 huge ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐) Thank you, NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark, for allowing me to review this outstanding book. Your kindness is appreciated!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    Avery lives in a compound with her parents and many brothers and sisters. Their father is the leader of their group, the Chosen. They know they will be the only survivors after the world around them dies. Avery works hard every day, growing crops, honing survival skills, and sometimes burying babies. Then she is forced to sacrifice even more, and the house is set afire. After escaping with her brother Cole, they eventually make a startling discovery. They were both kidnapped as children. Cole go Avery lives in a compound with her parents and many brothers and sisters. Their father is the leader of their group, the Chosen. They know they will be the only survivors after the world around them dies. Avery works hard every day, growing crops, honing survival skills, and sometimes burying babies. Then she is forced to sacrifice even more, and the house is set afire. After escaping with her brother Cole, they eventually make a startling discovery. They were both kidnapped as children. Cole goes to live with his family while Avery struggles to survive on her own and flees from the shadows of her past. This is the story of a murderous cult and the ones who escaped, but it's also about trying to make sense of a traumatic past and learning to live again. The description of life in the cult is horrifying but very well done. Avery's struggles to recover are imperfect and very real to life. We explore the ideas of post-traumatic stress and blocking out painful memories. The characters, love them or hate them, are all so vivid. As in real life, everything is not tied up and perfectly resolved. There are tattered strings left behind, because life is not perfect. The audiobook was narrated by Jesse Vilinsky, who did a wonderful job of conveying the terror, confusion, desperation, determination, and pain so prevalent in this story. I received a free copy of this audiobook from Dreamscape Media via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karren Sandercock

    Avery lives in her family’s compound called Clovelite, she has nine siblings and their parents are members of a doomsday cult. Avery’s father has been forcing her sleep away from the rest of the family in a tent, they do hours of survival training, and have been brainwashed to think the outside world isn’t safe. One night a fire breakouts in the house, Avery has been allowed inside to sleep, she manages to get out and she knows this is her chance to escape her parents. Avery is nineteen and her y Avery lives in her family’s compound called Clovelite, she has nine siblings and their parents are members of a doomsday cult. Avery’s father has been forcing her sleep away from the rest of the family in a tent, they do hours of survival training, and have been brainwashed to think the outside world isn’t safe. One night a fire breakouts in the house, Avery has been allowed inside to sleep, she manages to get out and she knows this is her chance to escape her parents. Avery is nineteen and her younger brother Cole is sixteen, initially they hide in the woods, they wander around homeless, in a society that’s completely foreign, and the pair get arrested for shoplifting. The police take their fingerprints, much to everyone’s surprise it turns out they were both kidnapped separately fifteen years ago and by the cult leaders. Cole returns to live with his birth family, who are complete strangers and Avery goes to stay at a half-way house. Without Cole Avery is lost, the police keep asking her questions about where the fire started and how many people were inside the house when it broke out? I received a copy of After We Were Stolen from Edelweiss and Sourcebooks in exchange for an honest review. Brooke Beyfuss’s debut novel is a story about two teenagers finding out their whole life has been a lie, and how they have endured years of physical and mental abuse. Avery’s vulnerable and disorientated by her situation, she’s trying to recover from her past and come to terms with Cole isn’t her brother and never was. Three and a half stars from me, I wouldn't class the book as a thriller and I thought it ended rather suddenly. https://karrenreadsbooks.blogspot.com/ https://www.facebook.com/KarrenReadsH...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Val ⚓️ Shameless Handmaiden ⚓️

    ***ARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***

  13. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    After We Were Stolen was a very impressive debut novel by Brooke Beyfuss. I listened to the audiobook that was performed flawlessly by Jesse Vilinsky. After We Were Stolen was both riveting and compelling. I was immediately drawn into the well constructed plot. It was easy to connect with the well developed characters. All of my emotions were put into high gear as I listened to this audiobook. Although After We Were Stolen was a story about a cult, it was not your typical cult story at all. Aver After We Were Stolen was a very impressive debut novel by Brooke Beyfuss. I listened to the audiobook that was performed flawlessly by Jesse Vilinsky. After We Were Stolen was both riveting and compelling. I was immediately drawn into the well constructed plot. It was easy to connect with the well developed characters. All of my emotions were put into high gear as I listened to this audiobook. Although After We Were Stolen was a story about a cult, it was not your typical cult story at all. Avery and her brother Cole lived with their parents and eight brothers and sisters on the Clovelite Compound. The Compound had been owned by Avery’s grandfather and upon his death was transferred to her father. It was located in a very remote area and functioned without the help or influence of the outside world. Avery’s father believed that the end of the world was coming and that they, all his little soldiers, had to learn how to survive. One night, Avery had awoken to the smell of smoke and distant flames of fire. Avery could not open the door of the room she had been sleeping in. Someone had locked it from the outside. Panicked, Avery escaped through the window of her room. Somehow, she found Cole. He had been hurt but the two of them knew they needed to flee. When they saw big red trucks and lots of cars arrive on their property they knew they had to run. Avery believed that Cole and herself were the only survivors. They gathered Avery’s tent and took whatever canned food she had in it and fled. Avery and Cole ran through the forest. They walked for days and days until they finally reached a town. With no money and nowhere to stay Avery and Cole became homeless. They found shelter wherever they could and began stealing food whenever they could. One day, Avery and Cole were caught stealing and were arrested. Their knowledge of the “outside world” was so limited they had difficulty answering the questions the officer who had arrested them was asking them. While in custody, both Avery’s and Cole’s fingerprints were taken. When the officer ran their fingerprints through the national data base some very disturbing and shocking facts were discovered. Both Avery and Cole had been abducted many years ago from their birth parents. The only life and family they had known on the compound was a complete lie. What would happen to them now? What would their life be like outside the compound? Would they be able to navigate what awaited them? I was hooked right from the start and found it hard to pull myself away from this compelling audiobook. All my emotions were triggered as I listened to this audiobook. I felt anger, sadness, desperation, shock and tense, suspenseful moments. Brooke Beyfuss proved to be a wonderful storyteller. I look forward to seeing what she writes next. She is definitely on my radar now. I highly recommend this book. Thank you to Dreamscape Media LLC for allowing me to listen to this audiobook through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. After We Were Stolen was published on July 19, 2022.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    To prepare, endure, and thrive – that’s why Avery and her family have been chosen. Living in Clovelite, their isolated family homestead, her parents and their ten children spend their days preparing to survive when the world destroys itself – an inevitability her father is bound and determined to lead their family through. It doesn’t take long for his ruthlessness to spark a horrific chain of events, and when Avery and her brother Cole learn the truth, their worlds will never be the same again. Th To prepare, endure, and thrive – that’s why Avery and her family have been chosen. Living in Clovelite, their isolated family homestead, her parents and their ten children spend their days preparing to survive when the world destroys itself – an inevitability her father is bound and determined to lead their family through. It doesn’t take long for his ruthlessness to spark a horrific chain of events, and when Avery and her brother Cole learn the truth, their worlds will never be the same again. The author gives a warning before this book begins that her goal was to celebrate the strength of the human spirit and the fortitude needed to break the cycle of abuse and emerge triumphant – but that to do so, her characters had to undergo hardships that were difficult to write. She succeeded on both fronts; the beginning of this book is a disturbing portrayal of several traumatic events. But I truly felt the journey that Avery went through more than matched them in inspiring hope and admiration for a character I was rooting for from the start. After We Were Stolen was a very emotional read, one that tugged at my heartstrings, made me laugh, and made me cry. It never felt over the top, or like the author was taking cheap shots to inspire easy emotional reactions in her readers. Brooke Beyfuss instead writes very authentic situations and characters, ones that feel possible and real. This is a relatively short book, but it delivers an impact that belies its size – I think it’s an incredible read, one I’ll remember it for a long time to come.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Schultz

    Name of Book: After We Were Stolen Author: Brooke Beyfuss ~ Debut Author Genre: Cult, Family Drama Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark Pub Date: July 19, 2022 My Rating: 4 Stars! Avery is nineteen years old and the oldest child living in the compound with her Mother, Father, and nine siblings ~ Seth, Amaris, Hannah, Jane, Peter, Sarah, Candace, Benjamin and Cole. She and her siblings have been taught and believe they are the chosen people and those living outside were dying. The father is abusive with s Name of Book: After We Were Stolen Author: Brooke Beyfuss ~ Debut Author Genre: Cult, Family Drama Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark Pub Date: July 19, 2022 My Rating: 4 Stars! Avery is nineteen years old and the oldest child living in the compound with her Mother, Father, and nine siblings ~ Seth, Amaris, Hannah, Jane, Peter, Sarah, Candace, Benjamin and Cole. She and her siblings have been taught and believe they are the chosen people and those living outside were dying. The father is abusive with strict rules. There is danger to the other children if one should try to escape. However, Avery and her sixteen year-old bother Cole do escape when a fire destroys the compound. They are sure the others have not survived and run as far as they can. They know they are homeless but are trying to make the best of it….but are caught shoplifting. When authorities investigate who they are, they turn them over to Child Protective Agency and discover both Avery and Cole are really Celeste Bishop and Noah Reid Pierce who went missing fifteen years ago, and were stolen by a cult. Cole is not Avery’s brother and is returned to his biological parents but Avery was placed in a women’s shelter. That sentence sounds so simple but Cole/Noah being return to his biological parent is a very emotional experience. Story moved on to Avery/Celeste’s experiences in the Women’s Shelter. This story kept me glued to my seat ~ but ~ it was not enjoyable. It is a story of resilience and the strength of the human spirit. There is no doubt it will make for interesting book club discussion! There is a great ‘Reading Group Guide’ included, which certainly added to my reading experience!! Additionally the …’A Conversation with the Author’ is awesome! Personal Thoughts on the questions: Question …Why are folks fascinated with ‘Cults’? Her answer is ~ the ‘Otherness”. That in itself is worthy of a discussion! Another question ~ Do you develop an outline for your story ~ her answer is no and I nearly jumped up and down with excitement as I hated to have to submit an outline when required in any of my college writing classes. To top off my enjoyment of reading this Q & A is when she was asked what books influenced her writing and she answered Wally Lamb’s “I Know This Much is True and She’s Come Undone. Awww these two books were major hits with my book club discussions. I always enjoy the ‘Acknowledgements’ and/or Author Notes etc. (I understand this is a time consuming and a bit stressful for many authors ~ but something I love to read.) Brooke Beyfuss stated writing this book wasn’t the most fun she ever had ~ research involved going through a lot of disturbing material. I appreciate this answer. Story is great! Want to thank NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for this eGalley. This file has been made available to me before publication in an early form for an honest professional review. Publishing Release Date scheduled for July 19, 2022.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily Christopher

    After We Were Stolen ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Genre: Thriller / Mystery Format: Kindle eBook Date Published: 7/19/22 Author: Brooke Beyfuss Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark Pages: 320 Goodreads Rating: 4.23 TW ⚠️: cult, sexual assault, child abuse, animal abuse, suicide, kidnapping, stillbirth, and traumatic death. The author includes an author’s note on page 1 explaining this, which I appreciate so much! I requested a digital advanced readers copy from NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark and providing my opinion volunt After We Were Stolen ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Genre: Thriller / Mystery Format: Kindle eBook Date Published: 7/19/22 Author: Brooke Beyfuss Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark Pages: 320 Goodreads Rating: 4.23 TW ⚠️: cult, sexual assault, child abuse, animal abuse, suicide, kidnapping, stillbirth, and traumatic death. The author includes an author’s note on page 1 explaining this, which I appreciate so much! I requested a digital advanced readers copy from NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark and providing my opinion voluntarily and unbiased. Synopsis: When a fire erupts on a remote compound, Avery and Cole escape from this cult atmosphere. They are homeless in a world they know nothing about. After months of hiding out, they are arrested and a discovery is made—Avery and Cole were kidnapped fifteen years earlier, stolen by cult leaders they knew as Mom and Dad. Cole is immediately returned to his birth family. The loss of Cole and the trauma of her former life threaten to undo her, but when the police investigation reveals there may be more survivors, Avery must uncover the truth about the fire to truly be free. My Thoughts: For a debut novel, this was amazing. We can expect great things from Beyfuss in the future. This was an emotional, dark and disturbing read, that took me on a full roller coaster of emotions. The way the author describes cult living was gut wrenching, very emotional, and potentially unnerving for some readers. The characters are well developed, had layers of depth, intriguing, inventive, and were perfect for this storyline. The author’s writing style is complex, thought provoking, takes you on a journey of emotions, creative, and unique, unique as in a style I wish I saw more. This was not your typical twist here, twist there novel, it was so much more, it was a story of grief, love, survival, and empowerment. I loved that this novel tackles family, blood and made, and how a survivor of a cult will persevere through the pain to come out a true survivor. Beyfuss explores what can break the human psyche, how to build up from the trauma, and a person can break away from the space built to survive and becoming a normal functioning person again. My only con would be the ending felt to abrupt, but everything else was brilliantly written. I will be on the lookout for future novels from the brilliant Beyfuss! I highly recommend that you preorder this book that releases later this month.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    “Humanity wasn’t dying. It was already dead.” This was an amazing story. It was heartbreaking, moving, emotional, and infuriating. This is a unique take on a cult story and its aftermath. We meet Avery as she’s living on a survivalist commune with her family. They think the world is ending and they’re the chosen ones. Her grandfather started the cult but after he died, her father took over. Seems like dad runs a tighter and less happy ship. Avery is mostly alone other than Cole, her brother and be “Humanity wasn’t dying. It was already dead.” This was an amazing story. It was heartbreaking, moving, emotional, and infuriating. This is a unique take on a cult story and its aftermath. We meet Avery as she’s living on a survivalist commune with her family. They think the world is ending and they’re the chosen ones. Her grandfather started the cult but after he died, her father took over. Seems like dad runs a tighter and less happy ship. Avery is mostly alone other than Cole, her brother and best friend. She was made to live outside to toughen up but after their mother loses a baby, Great Value David Koresch let Avery inside and gave her a nice room with lots of food and rest. What’s the catch? A fire breaks out and Avery is lucky to escape with her life.. and Cole. They live on their own for a while scavenging but finally get picked up and revealed to be missing children. Their whole lives have been a lie. Will they get to end up together or will they be separated? Do either of them have a chance of making it in this big world after what they’ve gone through? This was hard to hear at times but always meaningful, well-thought out, and it felt like the honest feelings of a young woman under these circumstances. This story will stick with me. Thanks to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media for the chance to listen and review! The narration was wonderful.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda M (The Curly Reader)

    Holy moly was I in for a ride with this book. The narrator hooked me within the first 5 mins of listening and then I just couldn't stop. I love a good cult story and this one didn't disappoint. I was so curious to hear about Avery's experiences in the cult and after she left. Never once was I bored. I will definitely be looking forward to more works by this author. Holy moly was I in for a ride with this book. The narrator hooked me within the first 5 mins of listening and then I just couldn't stop. I love a good cult story and this one didn't disappoint. I was so curious to hear about Avery's experiences in the cult and after she left. Never once was I bored. I will definitely be looking forward to more works by this author.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Taylor

    A book that will cut to the quick but not leave its reader emotionally abandoned. After We Were Stolen is an intelligent and heartrending story of vulnerability, power, resistance, and redemption. It explores the many facets of love, for ourselves, for those we call family, and what it means to rebuild a sense of identity from the ashes of systematic abuse and betrayal. Brooke Beyfuss has crafted a beautiful book that ultimately fosters hope founded on the belief that paths can be found to guide A book that will cut to the quick but not leave its reader emotionally abandoned. After We Were Stolen is an intelligent and heartrending story of vulnerability, power, resistance, and redemption. It explores the many facets of love, for ourselves, for those we call family, and what it means to rebuild a sense of identity from the ashes of systematic abuse and betrayal. Brooke Beyfuss has crafted a beautiful book that ultimately fosters hope founded on the belief that paths can be found to guide us away from even the darkest of pasts. An excellent read that is sure to be a favorite book club pick.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Judy Collins

    A highly impressive KNOCK OUT debut psychological thriller by Brooke Beyfuss— AFTER WE WERE STOLEN. Abducted as a child, a woman must confront her past—and untangle the truth of what happened to her. A powerful, emotional, coming-of-age tale with a strong protagonist you will root for to the end. The author expertly delivers a harrowing story of a world where little is what it first appears to be Avery, a young girl, is abused in a cult and led to believe something by its evil leaders, which s A highly impressive KNOCK OUT debut psychological thriller by Brooke Beyfuss— AFTER WE WERE STOLEN. Abducted as a child, a woman must confront her past—and untangle the truth of what happened to her. A powerful, emotional, coming-of-age tale with a strong protagonist you will root for to the end. The author expertly delivers a harrowing story of a world where little is what it first appears to be Avery, a young girl, is abused in a cult and led to believe something by its evil leaders, which she thinks are her parents. When forced to have sex to contribute to the cult and bear children, she knows she must find a way to escape the only life she has ever known. They lock her outside to survive, and now this. How can her flesh and blood do this to her? The story follows Avery and her family, living in a remote compound in rural Kansas. They think they are the "chosen ones." Started by her grandfather, Avery and her ten siblings live under a controlling father. They are led to believe the outside world is evil. The mother cranks out the babies since they do not want to bring in outsiders. They must recruit from within their family. However, as the novel opens, the mother has another dead baby, and Avery has to bury it. They are survivalists. Shortly thereafter, there is a deadly fire, and Avery is locked in. Who set the fire? Will anyone get out alive? She manages to escape after multiple burns and wants her brother, Cole (they are close), to go with her. This is their only way to escape. However, if the leaders survive, they will kill them for leaving. In the past, there was never a thought of escape since their every move was monitored. However, in light of the recent events, she knows she cannot remain. Cole is a little reluctant about leaving since he has been brainwashed to believe in their cause. He knows no different. However, he agrees since he cares for Avery and she is his best friend. They are on the run. They both have been taught to live off the grid. They have no money, clothes, transportation, or food. In addition, Avery is sick. She has been drugged and raped by some man her parents forced upon her to bear children for them. She needs a pregnancy test. With no money, she steals one, and they both are arrested. Being arrested may be the best thing ever for both of them. They are in jail. With social services called in, an investigation gets underway. Which ultimately reveals that they are not brother and sister and the leaders are not their parents. They were stolen. They find Cole's parents, who have been missing since he was a little boy. They still are searching for Avery's parents. From here is a heartbreaking scene between Avery and Cole. They care deeply for one another in ways that now make sense since they are not indeed brother and sister. But they have now separated, living hundreds of miles apart, and both still trying to deal with past trauma and feelings. Cole's family is wealthy and wants him to cut all ties with this life. Avery is left alone to try and make sense of her life. They must question everything they have ever known about the people and family that is not their family and the brainwashing and beliefs, the falsehoods, abuse, and torment they suffered. Beautifully written, gritty, haunting, dark, and chilling. Best of all, a leading protagonist you will fall in love with and root for until the explosive final page is turned. From grief, loss, forgiveness, and hope. For fans of Laura McHugh's What's Done in Darkness and Kimi Cunningham Grant's These Silent Woods. (both 5 STARS). Distributing and traumatic. The minute the book begins, you sense the sinister atmosphere leading to deadly menace and dangerous secrets. It is a difficult read; however, there is hope. I highly recommend the audiobook! A sensitive exploration of trauma and its harmful lasting effects. The author dives deep into the minds of her characters. Emotionally charged and thought-provoking— an ideal pick for book clubs and further discussions. Firstly I was drawn in by the creepy cover and description. Secondly, I listened to the audiobook narrated by Jesse Vilinsky (a perfect voice for all characters), and it was RIVETING! I was utterly glued to the audio at home and in the car. Thirdly, was excited to discover a newfound author with a winner out of the gate! I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. Brooke Beyfuss is an author to follow! A special thank you to #DreamscapeMedia and #NetGalley for an advanced audiobook copy to listen to, enjoy and review in exchange for an honest review. Blog Review Posted @ www.JudithDCollins.com @JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks Pub Date: July 19, 2022 My Rating: 4 Stars ✨✨✨✨ July 2022 Must-Read Books

  21. 5 out of 5

    Collette

    How would you feel if your entire life had been a lie? Add to this growing up in a cult, abuse, brainwashing and rape, and you have After We Were Stolen, by Brooke Beyfuss. In her debut novel, Beyfuss weaves together heavy subject matter, beautiful writing and an emotional journey that will leave no one unaffected. Nineteen-year-old Avery and her younger brother, Cole, live in a remote compound with their family, who their father deems The Chosen. Their days are filled with survivalist training, How would you feel if your entire life had been a lie? Add to this growing up in a cult, abuse, brainwashing and rape, and you have After We Were Stolen, by Brooke Beyfuss. In her debut novel, Beyfuss weaves together heavy subject matter, beautiful writing and an emotional journey that will leave no one unaffected. Nineteen-year-old Avery and her younger brother, Cole, live in a remote compound with their family, who their father deems The Chosen. Their days are filled with survivalist training, psychological manipulation and hard labor. As circumstances are becoming unbearable for Avery, a fire wipes out the whole compound, and she escapes with Cole. They live on the road for a few months, afraid of what they’ve been told about the outside world. After they get caught shoplifting, their fingerprints reveal they are victims of kidnapping when they were very young. Cole is immediately picked up by his parents, and Avery goes to a women’s shelter. Here, she tries to make sense of the past and the night of the fire, knowing she can’t step into a new identity if she doesn’t understand who she was. Filled with raw, emotional scenes, this bravely written story focuses on family, loyalty and trust. The fact that Avery grew up in a cult offers an up-close look at what can happen when your life is completely upended and offers not only an escape but a rebirth. The end of the story is poignant, but could have been explored a bit more; it felt like there were still a few loose ends. Overall, it is a difficult but immersive read that you won’t want to put down. I listened to the audio version, narrated by Jesse Vilinsky, who gives an emotional, flawless performance. This is one of those books that lends itself to the creative interpretation of the narrator to deliver extra depth and Vilinsky is the perfect choice for the role.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Novel Visits

    Thanks to @bookmarked for an ARC of #AfterWeWereStolen. 𝐀𝐅𝐓𝐄𝐑 𝗪𝐄 𝗪𝐄𝐑𝐄 𝐒𝐓𝐎𝐋𝐄𝐍 by debut author Brooke Beyfuss is a tough one for me to wrap my thoughts around. Parts I liked a lot and others made me cringe. To be fair, there was a note from the author at the beginning of the book that warned of tough topics around abuse of children. Had I not been warned, I may have stopped reading because the first 20% was rough. This is the story of two siblings, 19 year old Avery and 16 year old Cole, who escape Thanks to @bookmarked for an ARC of #AfterWeWereStolen. 𝐀𝐅𝐓𝐄𝐑 𝗪𝐄 𝗪𝐄𝐑𝐄 𝐒𝐓𝐎𝐋𝐄𝐍 by debut author Brooke Beyfuss is a tough one for me to wrap my thoughts around. Parts I liked a lot and others made me cringe. To be fair, there was a note from the author at the beginning of the book that warned of tough topics around abuse of children. Had I not been warned, I may have stopped reading because the first 20% was rough. This is the story of two siblings, 19 year old Avery and 16 year old Cole, who escape their family “compound” when a fire breaks out and chaos ensues. This event marked the beginning of my favorite part of the book, as Avery and Cole flee to the woods and eventually find themselves in a city. Since the two have never known life outside their family home, they’re without any resources, terrified, and unprepared for life on their own.⁣ ⁣ I really enjoyed the close relationship between the siblings, and was a little frustrated with what felt like a harsh turn near the middle of this story. I think parts were a bit of a stretch, tugging at the limits of believability, but despite that, 𝘈𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘞𝘦 𝘞𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘚𝘵𝘰𝘭𝘦𝘯 was a fast read and definitely made me think about children like Avery and Cole who are raised in situations that leave them unprepared for the real world. It may not happen a lot, but it still happens too often. ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫⁣ ⁣

  23. 4 out of 5

    Niki Mackedanz

    Oh. Em. Gee. First off, I'm so thankful for being able to read an ARC of this stellar novel thanks to NetGalley. I couldn't put this book down and I think I've told all of my friends to preorder this book immediately, before I even finished the book. It's about a young woman, Avery, who grew up on a compound with people she's always called her family. One fateful night, the compound burns to the ground, Avery and Cole escape into the woods. Being raised to fear everything and everyone from the ou Oh. Em. Gee. First off, I'm so thankful for being able to read an ARC of this stellar novel thanks to NetGalley. I couldn't put this book down and I think I've told all of my friends to preorder this book immediately, before I even finished the book. It's about a young woman, Avery, who grew up on a compound with people she's always called her family. One fateful night, the compound burns to the ground, Avery and Cole escape into the woods. Being raised to fear everything and everyone from the outside, they hid and survived on their own. Eventually being picked up and it's discovered that they had been kidnapped 15 years earlier by cult leaders. This story is that of Avery as she figures out how to survive in the modern world, as she figures out what really happened the night of the fire and if her and Cole were the only ones that survived. This book was an absolutely thrilling read and I can't believe it was a debut novel. I am definitely looking forward to future books by Brooke!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    After a fire kills everyone but them, Avery and her brother Cole escape from their abusive parents, only to learn the people they called mom and dad had abducted them as children. Adjusting to life outside of the cult, and learning the life she knew was a deception, is painful, heart wrenching, and ultimately hopeful for Avery, the narrator of this tale. This story deals with some serious and sobering topics, but the reader never feels weighed down or emotionally overloaded. The writing is beaut After a fire kills everyone but them, Avery and her brother Cole escape from their abusive parents, only to learn the people they called mom and dad had abducted them as children. Adjusting to life outside of the cult, and learning the life she knew was a deception, is painful, heart wrenching, and ultimately hopeful for Avery, the narrator of this tale. This story deals with some serious and sobering topics, but the reader never feels weighed down or emotionally overloaded. The writing is beautiful and efficient, sparing and detailed where needed.. I will be recommending this book to everyone and am eager for the author to write a second novel.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mehva

    This was a disturbing book, it reads like a true story but I am assuming it is not. A young woman escapes from a survivalist cult with her brother and begins the healing/reclaiming herself process. Worth the read

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Thank you Netgalley and Dreamscape Media for this advance listener copy in exchange for my honest review. This book was not at all what I was expecting. However, it was a good book. I was expecting more of a thriller. The synopsis lead me to believe that. It wasn't a thriller at all. It was a character study/family drama. I liked the characters, especially Avery (Celeste) and Toby. He was a great addition. This story really delves into what leaving a cult and rebuilding your life means. I was sad Thank you Netgalley and Dreamscape Media for this advance listener copy in exchange for my honest review. This book was not at all what I was expecting. However, it was a good book. I was expecting more of a thriller. The synopsis lead me to believe that. It wasn't a thriller at all. It was a character study/family drama. I liked the characters, especially Avery (Celeste) and Toby. He was a great addition. This story really delves into what leaving a cult and rebuilding your life means. I was saddened by Cole's (Noah's) fate. I wanted more for him and his relationship with Avery. There seemed like too much love between them for it to go the way it did. I was hoping for a different ending, and I didn't feel that the big "twist" was believable. It may have been more believable if this book was written in the third person and not the first person. All in all it was a good story. I'd give it 3.5 stars. The audio was great. I loved the narrator. She really brought the characters to life and added a lot of depth to the story. I would recommend this to people who like dramas.

  27. 4 out of 5

    ✨Brithanie Faith✨

    e-ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was a tough read, but one that I would recommend if you want a story that focuses more on healing/life after the characters have escaped the cult that they've unknowingly been a part of than the cult itself. I appreciate the fact that the scenes of abuse weren't unnecessarily graphic. The guilt/trauma threatening to consume Cole and Avery was evident. However, this wasn't a story without hope. I have mixed feelin e-ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was a tough read, but one that I would recommend if you want a story that focuses more on healing/life after the characters have escaped the cult that they've unknowingly been a part of than the cult itself. I appreciate the fact that the scenes of abuse weren't unnecessarily graphic. The guilt/trauma threatening to consume Cole and Avery was evident. However, this wasn't a story without hope. I have mixed feelings about the ending. It was good, but very bittersweet.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Books about cults are fascinating…and at times horrifying to read. This book is no exception. Avery and Cole lived with their parents and siblings in an abandoned factory, learning survival skills as they prepared for the end of the world. Except the end of the world didn’t happen as their father predicted; the end of their world was a fire that consumed the compound and everyone in it except them. After escaping the fire, they tried to survive on their own, until they were arrested for shoplift Books about cults are fascinating…and at times horrifying to read. This book is no exception. Avery and Cole lived with their parents and siblings in an abandoned factory, learning survival skills as they prepared for the end of the world. Except the end of the world didn’t happen as their father predicted; the end of their world was a fire that consumed the compound and everyone in it except them. After escaping the fire, they tried to survive on their own, until they were arrested for shoplifting. Then their world exploded even more as they learned that they were kidnapped as young children and held in the survivalist cult, undergoing brainwashing and abuse as their “parents” exerted total control over them. After Cole is reunited with his birth family, Avery has to cope with her new life and her past without him. This is a well written book and an absolute page turner. All the characters are nuanced and fully fleshed out. Avery’s pain is palpable as she tries to make sense of her new normal as well as trying to make sense of her past. In an author’s note in the beginning, the author warns the reader that there are events in the book that are disturbing, as would be true in most cults. She is pretty specific about what she describes in the book, so as to give a heads up to those readers with trigger issues. I’m sure a lot of reader’s appreciated the warning. Thank you to Early Reads and Sourcebooks for a free ARC ebook of this book. Although this is a great program, the format of the ebook and how to access it leaves a lot to be desired. You have to constantly sign in to your account, and the book does not open to where you left off, so you have to remember where you were in the book. (Thank goodness for Post It notes!) TBH, this took away from my enjoyment of this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    berjean ✿

    Summary: Avery and Cole are living in a large secluded compound, unaware that they’re living in a cult. This is the life they know. They survive for the “inevitable”, and they stay away from outsiders- father’s orders. Then a fire breaks out and everything comes crashing down, now Avery and Cole must survive in a world they know nothing about. Review: First off, the author’s note was so thoughtful and included all the possible TWs included in the book so you’re prepared for what’s to come. Althoug Summary: Avery and Cole are living in a large secluded compound, unaware that they’re living in a cult. This is the life they know. They survive for the “inevitable”, and they stay away from outsiders- father’s orders. Then a fire breaks out and everything comes crashing down, now Avery and Cole must survive in a world they know nothing about. Review: First off, the author’s note was so thoughtful and included all the possible TWs included in the book so you’re prepared for what’s to come. Although not many authors do this, it was nice to see it being done here. With that being said, like usual you should always check for TWs before diving into a book. Now let’s get into the actual review! After We Were Stolen is an intense story from beginning to end, and I felt myself experiencing such an array of emotions as I followed Avery’s journey after the fire. I couldn’t put the book down! Beyfuss explores the ideas of family, identity and loss, and what that may look like after such a traumatic event. I thought the story would jump right into Avery and Cole getting rescued and then learning about their lives after the said rescue, but instead the book was divided into three parts; we learned briefly about how (beyond terrible) life was on the compound, then we ran with Avery and Cole as they maneuvered through the unfamiliar outside world, and lastly we followed Avery as she learned to navigate through her hardships. This book focused less on how the fire happened (even though it was discussed) and more on Avery’s journey as an individual learning to live and heal from a world she knew all her life. Heartbreaking, suspenseful, and emotional, I’m so impressed with this debut thriller and I can’t wait to see what else Beyfuss releases in the future!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    AFTER WE WERE STOLEN Brooke Beyfuss OMG... I listened to this book and found it another melancholy, overly dark, and emotional read. Lots of screeching, overly emotional narration that generally set my teeth on edge. I had about enough at halfway so fast forwarded and skipped ahead to get to a better spot. Sadly, I didn't feel that I ever really found one. I got very pissed when the author misplays the system with regard to care offered to children who have been abducted. In this book, the police AFTER WE WERE STOLEN Brooke Beyfuss OMG... I listened to this book and found it another melancholy, overly dark, and emotional read. Lots of screeching, overly emotional narration that generally set my teeth on edge. I had about enough at halfway so fast forwarded and skipped ahead to get to a better spot. Sadly, I didn't feel that I ever really found one. I got very pissed when the author misplays the system with regard to care offered to children who have been abducted. In this book, the police manhandle Avery after lying to Avery and Cole that his parents were there and going to take him (this less than one day after identifying them). This is not the way the system would work. These individuals would be under Child Protective services and immediately begin talking to child advocates and doctors to determine their level, the system would offer supervised time with the parents until they were sure the kids were ready to leave and the interview process would have lasted longer than the author provided. I mean, after all, the police are investigating major criminal activities, and cults that kidnap kids usually commit other offenses. I guess in this book, nobody wants to debrief these two witnesses! In the end, I finished the book, but I had to lay it down for a couple of days. I think that the story was overdone in several places, I prefer the story to flow from a more natural place. 2.5 rounded to 3 stars Happy Reading!

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