Review: Stalked by Alison Hewitt (4/5)

Monday, 15 September 2014
A young woman's harrowing account of being stalked by the man she once loved

Alison Hewitt was in the midst of training to be a family doctor when she met Al Amin Dhalla through an exclusive dating agency. He was a seemingly respectable businessman from Canada, so attentive and caring it was easy to ignore the warning signs - until he started, step by step, to take over her life.

Six months after they first met Al Amin's web of lies started to unravel and Alison became aware that he had a sinister dark side. When she tried to end the relationship, the unthinkable happened and she found herself the victim of an escalating campaign of terror. Even when Al Amin was found with knives and guns, the police had no powers to detain him. Nobody could have imagined the events that were to follow, as Alison was left fearing for her life. It would take all her strength to survive.

Brave and gripping, Stalked tells of one young woman's fight against the man who terrorized her, and her determination to defeat the fear and live a normal life.

I went through a phase a couple of years ago of reading loads of those true story books, about child abuse or people who had come from a bad upbringing only to overcome it and go on and live their life. They can often be somewhat depressing and it's weird to think how well they sell. What's the reason for reading them? Often they can go into far too much detail that it's almost perverse to read them.

Stalking in particular I think is quite scary because it can come in many different forms. In the age of the internet it is incredibly easy to spy on people without their knowledge. I'm sure we've all got those Facebook friends that tell you when they burp, fart, yawn, blink and leave their homes. There's a couple on mine that I could glance at and tell you where they are at almost any time of the day. It's hard to pick out any positives in social media when it can be used in this way, obviously the fault is the users but at the same time these companies are giving us the tools to ultimately allow people a look at our lives that would otherwise not be possible without Facebook and the like. And really why do we feel the need to tell everybody our business? We managed pretty well years ago without sharing photos of our kids all day long. Anyway I digress... 

The stalking in this book goes well beyond a simple bit of Facebook browsing and is actually quite horrifying and disturbing to read. It is uncomfortable in parts and at times you do have to sit back and remember this is somebody's life that you are reading about and not another gruesome crime fiction novel about an innocent young woman being stalked by a bad guy. The bad guy is bad, and he's real. We read about a confident young woman becoming scared and terrified because of the actions of one man.

Nine times out of ten however these kinds of books do go on to have a happy ending (or as happy an ending can be after what the person has been through) so you read in the hope that that will happen for Alison. As always for the outsider looking in there's times you think Alison could've walked away but her stalker was a master manipulator, at times even the police could do nothing. It's times like these you question just how this man was able to get away with so much and why he couldn't be stopped sooner.

I would say then that the enjoyment if any that comes from reading books of this nature is about the individual overcoming what they have faced and coming out the other side with their life and sanity in tact. I applaud Alison for telling her story, it can't have been easy and it's always brave for someone to share their story with the world especially as openly and honestly as Alison has done here but as they say if even only one person can take courage from this story and change their life too then it's worth writing.

Thanks to Busy Bee PR for the review copy.

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