Book Review: Little Girl Gone

Shortly after twelve-year-old Madora Welles father walked out into the desert and committed suicide, she began a downhill slide. Drugs, booze, older boys and cutting school led to declining grades that Madora’s mother was powerless to stop. While at a party on the Mexican border, the then seventeen-year-old Madora began suffering a drug overdose and out of the darkness came salvation in the form of Willis, a master of manipulation. Under Willis’s complete control, Madora quit her drug and alcohol abuse only to end up living with a different type of abuse. Carefully weaning Madora away from her mother, friends or coworkers, Willis eventually moved them into an isolated little dump of a home where her only companions were assorted rescued animals including Foo, a pit bull puppy.

At twenty-two, Madora is now little more then a slave as she must tend to Linda’s needs. A pregnant teenager Willis took off the street with the supposed goal of saving her as he did Madora, Linda is held prisoner in a broken down trailer while her newborn boy is sold. Madora is told a pack of lies while Willis sells the newborn and pockets the money. Befriended by Django, a precocious twelve-year-old boy coping with the sudden loss of both parents, Madora begins questioning her life and Willis’s carefully crafted stories. When Django discovers Linda chained in the trailer, Madora makes a series of life altering decisions that will send her life in a different direction where, for the first time in years, she is in control.

This is moving tale of deception and redemption, not just between Madora and Willis but also for Django’s guardian. Finely crafted characters carry the storyline that twines between Madora and Willis, Django and Robin and Robin and her parents as unexpected revelations force change upon them all. Watching Willis’s manipulation of the very naive Madora is chilling and makes her emergence all the more remarkable. Campbell’s powerful novel explores the depth of depravity cloaked as charity and the ability to take a leap of faith and change the direction of one’s life. This compelling story will stay with you long after the book is finished.

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