Burdens Shared are Burdens Halved

Book Review:  Stolen

Oklahoma author Vivian Zabel brings the subjects of bigamy, abuse, death, and child abduction to the forefront in her latest release, Stolen.  You know this is going to be a challenging drama-mystery when the lead character, Torri Adamson, describes her first husband Mike’s propensities for infidelity as “extra-curriculars”.

Stolen is a multi-generational story that keeps your mind busy contemplating all the connections, and realizing that close, supportive family relationships are a “good thing”.  Torri has a strong bond with her young children, Leann and Lyle, and with her grandparents who own and operate the Light House Inn (a bed & breakfast in Edmond, Oklahoma).  The thread of the extended family’s relationships runs throughout the story, mitigating horrific tragedies that beset them.

Written compassionately,  Stolen dramatically observes life’s losses and gains, close familial and social ties, and the agonizing experiences of losing family members.   A lesson is learned from Torri’s friend, Alice Thomas, as Alice faces death: ” … love doesn’t leave when a person does; love just continues, surrounding the person who is loved.”

The story emphasizes the exemplary relationship Torri pursues with her children, despite her marriage being torn apart by her first husband’s bigamy and abuse.  Shortly afterwards, Torri is faced with helping her dear friends, Alice and husband Jason, go through the decline and death of Alice.  Through all of that, Torri excels in motherhood and – for a time – covers all the bases of parenthood.  She also excels in helping Jason overcome his own grief.  They both learn to step back into life’s journey, their friendship growing: ” … from shared grief to finding shared interests.”  Romance eventually blossoms as they observe each others’ extraordinary capacity for loving and helping others.

The text of Stolen is tender, respectful, bringing back memories of special times - as well as memories of your own personal struggles.  But the manner in which Torri and her family manage to reestablish their lives following each tragedy, finding unexpected relief along the way, provokes a kind of peacefulness in your heart.  As for Jason, who felt that his life with Alice had been “stolen”, he found his way back to happiness with encouragement from Torri’s family, including the children who adored him as a friend, a Deputy sheriff, and as their baseball coach.

Torri and Jason’s love leads to marriage, which quickly leads to Mike Adamson’s reappearance.  Celebration of their second wedding anniversary is then interrupted with a heartbreak neither of them could have anticipated.  They felt ” … trapped in a nightmare that robbed them of everything but pain.”


Sorrow from the tragedies eventually began to recede into the shadows.  The family’s ultimate success in relationships and jobs was primarily the result of a rudimentary faith in God.  That faith was buttressed by the motto: “burdens shared are burdens halved.”

Stolen is a sad, but inspiring, story that you will want to experience.

More information about Vivian Zabel at: 


~ ~vehoae

P.S. With information from the U.S. Department of Justice, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, author Vivian Zabel expands Stolen with stunning statistics on child abductions.  In the U.S., an estimated 200,000 children are stolen annually. Why estimated? Zabel explains that many abductions go unreported for various reasons, ” … including the fear of harm for child or remaining parent, feeling that reporting wouldn’t help, or the choice to handle the situation without involving law enforcement.”


Review - Stolen - Contemporary mixed with Suspense and Romance

Stolen by Vivian Gilbert Zabel

The novel’s  tag line sums it up: When troubles and tragedies steal the joy and happiness from life, a person has two choices: to rebuild and find a way to continue living or to give up. 

Research done by Ms. Zabel estimates that over 200,000 children are abducted by family members each year.  One can only imagine that the pain is still the same, even knowing the child is with someone you know, or thought you knew.  The loss of a child through abduction has to be horrific, and Stolen captures one mother’s agony, determination, and faith.

Teacher, Torri Adamson probably wouldn’t say a bad word about anyone.  That has to be the reason she continues her marriage to a man who cheats.  She’s the type who counts her blessings, but the loving world she pictures with her two children starts to unravel the day she receives a phone call from another woman who demands to talk to Mike.  Torri explains he isn’t home, but gives out her address.  When the two women meet face-to-face, the lie is revealed.  Mike is married to both of them.  Even when his bigamy is exposed, he still tries to blame Torri for anything that goes wrong in his life.

 Luckily, Torri has a great support group.  Her gram and gramps live nearby and are more than happy to have her and the children live with them in their Bed and Breakfast. In the happy atmosphere described there, how could the children not thrive with all the attention and love?  You’ll see the divorce coming but there is so much more to this story.

 In Stolen, Ms. Zabel weaves a tale that draws you in and makes you part of the family.  You’ll revel in the good times and suffer through the bad…just like real life.  Friends come and go, people die, but you never, ever expect your ex-husband to steal your children.

 You’ll simply have to read this awesome story to see if Torri can find peace with Jason, the husband of her deceased best friend as they try and help one another through the grief.  Religious or not, you’ll pray at the beginning of every chapter for the children’s safe return to the mother and step-father who love them so much.  If you want to know how it turns out, you’re going to have to read the book for yourself.  

For information about Ms. Zabel's upcoming release, stay tuned to 4RV Publishing.

Note from the Reviewer:

This poignant tale becomes much more personal and tear-jerking if you read  Ms. Zabel's post on her blogMay God Bless her and her family.


Stolen Review

Title: Stolen

Author: Vivian Gilbert Zabel

Publisher: 4RV Publishing LLC


ISBN: 978-0-9825886-4-2

Reviewed by: Karen Cioffi

To have young children snatched from their home is unconceivable, inconsolable, and heart wrenching. It can destroy a parent, and the family. Unfortunately, it’s not that uncommon.

Stolen, by Vivian Gilbert Zabel, is a story of the unconceivable. Based on a true story, Zabel conveys much of the agony and utter despair that is evoked from having a father steal his children from their mother.

The protagonist, Torri, leaves her abusive husband and finds refuge and comfort with her family. She even develops a loving relationship with an old friend. Life is good again; Torri and her two young children are happy.

Then it happens, the abusive ex-husband rears his ugly head, and for whatever reason people who commit such an atrocious act do so, he kidnaps the children.

The father and children have completely vanished. The FBI is on the job, but there are no leads to follow. The trail is getting colder by the minute. And, the aunt who took the children for an excursion to the zoo, and the only witness, had been drugged and lay near death.

In an interview with Vivian Gilbert Zabel, she was asked a poignant question in regard to her book: Being the subject matter is so personal and heart wrenching, were you able to say all you wanted to? Or, were some of the emotions just too difficult to convey?

 The author candidly answered: “I couldn’t put everything into the book. Plus, there is no way to express the anguish we all felt.  I did feel as if part of my heart had been ripped out. How do I describe that so that another person could really ‘feel’ the pain? Also, some details couldn’t be used, even if the story were greatly fictionalized.”

 Obviously, while there is no way to fully convey the emotions involved in this type of situation, Zabel comes as close as possible. She weaves a riveting and engrossing, and well structured story of tragedy, fear, despair, longing, hope, and life. She uses wonderful descriptive details that will bring tears to your eyes – be sure to have a box of tissues next to you when you read Stolen. It is a story that will have you anxiously turning each page – it is a must read.

November 16, 2010

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