Part coming-of-age novel, part sweeping family saga, and part love song to a disappearing natural world, Stolen is the internationally bestselling and award-winning debut novel about a young Sámi girl and her struggle to defend her family’s reindeer herd and their traditional way of life—for readers of Katherena Vermette and Michelle Good.
It is winter, north of the Arctic Circle. A few hours of pale light is all the sun has to offer before the landscape is once more enveloped in complete darkness. This is Sápmi, land of the Sámi, Scandinavia’s Indigenous people.
Nine-year-old Elsa is the daughter of Sámi reindeer herders. Her community is under constant threat—from the Swedish population who don’t always value the Sámi way of life, from the government that wants to claim their land for mining, and from violent poachers who slaughter their reindeer for sport and for sale on the black market.
One morning, when Elsa goes skiing alone, she witnesses a man brutally killing her beloved reindeer calf. Elsa is terrified by what she sees. Fearing for her own life and for the lives of her family members, she remains silent.
Ten years pass, and Elsa is now trying to claim a role for herself in her community, where male elders expect young women to know their place. Meanwhile, the hostility toward the Sámi continues to escalate, and the police won’t do anything to protect them. When Elsa becomes the target of the man who killed her reindeer calf all those years ago, something inside of her breaks. The guilt, fear, and anger she’s been carrying since childhood come crashing over her, leading to a final catastrophic confrontation.
Told in three parts, Stolen is a powerful, propulsive, and cinematic novel about a courageous young Sámi woman struggling to defend her Indigenous heritage against the cruelty of the modern world for justice and for the future of her people.
Ann-Helén Laestadius is an author and journalist from Kiruna, Sweden. She is Sámi and of Tornedalian descent, two of Sweden’s national minorities. In 2016, Laestadius was awarded the prestigious August Prize for Best Young Adult and Children’s Novel for Ten Past One, for which she was also awarded Norrland’s Literature Prize. Stolen is her first adult novel and was named Sweden’s Book of the Year.
“Sámi author Ann-Helén Laestadius has written a fresh, devastating, and insightful novel about Sámi life and the struggle for justice in a rapidly changing world. A love for the imperiled landscape reverberates throughout this engaging read.” — MEGAN MAYHEW BERGMAN, award-winning author of How Strange a Season