What is it with teens and kidnapping? There are so many amazing (literary) novels out there that focus on that one thing you get told will eventually happen (and rarely does)- get approached by a stranger and kidnapped. Much like encountering quicksand or being in the midst of a volcanic explosion, kidnapping is one of those things that you’re told about as a child and then never actually see. So we’re all prepared to get our friend out of a sink hole, get away from volcanic ash, and punch that kidnapper right where it hurts, and then end up just reading about accounts. I loved Caroline B. Cooney’s The Face on the Milk Carton when I was in elementary school- it was probably one of the few books I read without my parents begging me to. I definitely read it covertly, although I’m sure the librarian was smirking as she watched me hide it from every adult that came near. The idea that I could have been kidnapped as a baby and be living a happy life with my captors was so thrilling! And so completely ridiculous, but that’s the point isn’t it? For one of my courses during school I read If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch, a Carnegie Medal in Literature nominee. It tells the story of a teen girl and her young sister who have been (plot twist) kidnapped by their mother and taken to live in a broken camper in the forest. One day, their father FINALLY finds them and off they go to the real world of school, mean girls, and of course, boys. I loved this book most of all for the reality. Parents do kidnap their children and when you do something bad, even if you’ve suffered a serious trauma, you do have to come clean. The ending is so brilliant with all it leaves up in the air and I would highly recommend this title to any girl (age 14 up).
That brings me to the latest YA book I’ve taken on. Lauren Oliver (writer of the lovely Liesl and Po and the Delirium series) divides her novel Vanishing Girls between two narrators and many different times. I find it a little jolting to be taken back and forth in time so much, but that works to Oliver’s advantage, as the story itself is jolting. Dara is the younger sister- beautiful, wild, and envied. Nick is older, athletic, and always in Dara’s shadow. I love hearing both girls’ views of each other because they each think the other has it easier, and I can completely sympathize with both views. I’m only a quarter of the way in, but already I know Dara disappears around the same time a little girl goes missing, and I’m intrigued by where Oliver is taking the story. This book wouldn’t appeal to just any reader- it is a challenge, but in the best possible way. Girls 13 and up will love Dara and feel heartbroken for Nick.