Author: Anne Heltzel
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Find it here: Amazon, Goodreads
Source: ARC compliments of Netgalley
She knows only Sam, a mysterious teenage boy. He is her sole companion; her whole life. She was born, already a teenager, lying outside a burning building in soot-stained clothes, remembering nothing, not even her name. He showed her the necklace she had on, the one that named her: Abby. Sam brought her to live in his cave-palace, where he give her everything she needs. He loves her. He protects her from the world outside, from everyone who wants to hurt them, like the denizens of Circle Nine, Dante's deepest circle of hell. But even in a charmed, brand-new life like Abby's, change will come. Sam falls ill. A new girl comes to stay, and Abby begins to question Sam's devotion. With doubt comes emotional turmoil, changes in perception, and glimpses of her past identity. In this courageous psychological thriller, Abby tells the story of living her new life and discovering her old one, while grappling with an ever-changing reality.
I had a really hard time reading most of this book because it was all just so confusing. The premise of the story is that Abby doesn't know who she is and she can't remember anything before a couple days ago. She knows only Sam because he was there when she woke up. She sees the cave they live in as a lavish palace with very expensive furnishings and everything she needs. Then Sam begins disappearing for long periods of time with another girl and she begins to doubt what he's been telling her: that she shouldn't go out of the cave without him because the outside world (which they call circle nine) is dangerous and they will hurt her. When she begins to doubt, she also begins to see the world as it really is and that their cave is not a palace at all, but rotting food, moldy sheets and broken furniture.
The hardest part when reading Circle Nine is the fact that it's all from Abby's perspective so you have absolutely no idea what's going on. The only reason I continued reading the book and finished it was because I wanted to know who she was, where she came from and how she met such a scum bag like Sam. In the end all these questions are answered and then some.
Circle Nine shows how extreme a person can react to a trauma and how the mind copes and protects itself. Abby wasn't ready to deal with what she had done therefore her mind forced her to forget what had happened and made her perceive her surroundings as safe and desirable. As she started to come out of it, she was getting back pieces of her life and what had ultimately led to her hiding out.