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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

After We Were Stolen

ISBN: 9781666609240

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Dreamscape Media

Narrator: Jesse Vilinsky

Publication Date: 07/19/2022

Format: Audiobook

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)


"Not a typical cult novel...Despite Avery's clear trauma and struggle for closure, her voice is strong and clear." – Booklist

An emotionally wrought, psychologically twisty coming-of-age story 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, resulting in the pair being separated.

Avery is alone and desperate. She is uncertain if her "parents" survived the fire and is terrified to find out. 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.


"Avery's voice resonates...Powerful and moving." – New York Journal of Books

"Not a typical cult novel…Despite Avery’s clear trauma and struggle for closure, her voice is strong and clear."

— Booklist

"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."

— Rebecca Taylor, author of The Secret Next Door

"Brooke Beyfuss’s After We Were Stolen kept me feverishly turning pages, anxious and eager to find out what happened to Avery and Cole as they emerge from a life they never asked for and into one they’re totally unprepared to navigate."

— Melanie Abrams, author of Meadowlark

My Review

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.

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. A "page-turner!" 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.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

My Rating: 4 Stars

About the Author

Brooke Beyfuss is a freelance writer who lives in Woodbridge Township, New Jersey with her husband, daughter, and far, far too many pets. She graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in psychology and comparative literature, despite failing pre-calculus three times in a row. As a freelance writer, her audiences have run the gamut from holistic healers to adult entertainers. After We Were Stolen is her first novel. WEBSITE







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