(Image from Barnes & Noble)
It has always been difficult for 15-year-old Nico Morris to live in the shadow of her older sister. Beautiful, popular, and brimming with self-confidence, Sarah is everything Nico is not. Even though Sarah has been gone for four years—she vanished from the Pennsylvania park where she was meeting her older boyfriend when she was 15—her presence still lingers. The disappearance shattered the girls' parents; Nico, however, has felt only relief. No one knows how cruelly Sarah treated her younger sister. The daily taunting, the constant belittling, the never-ending bullying—no, Nico definitely does not miss Sarah.
Then, a miracle occurs: Sarah has been found. Suffering from retrograde amnesia, the 19-year-old can't explain where she's been. She can't even remember the plot of her favorite book. Obviously traumatized, this Sarah is malnourished, shy, and tentative. Most shocking of all, she's nice. Not sure what to make of the stranger beside her, Nico becomes convinced that the interloper isn't Sarah at all. But if she isn't Nico's sister, then who is she? If she is, then Nico has some serious questions for her. What really happened to Sarah Morris? Everyone is asking, but only one person knows the truth ...
I've read a couple books lately with the same premise as the one at the heart of The Stranger Game by Cylin Busby. It's a fascinating idea, one different authors have explored in different ways. Although the plot of The Stranger Game is almost identical to one of the "readalikes" I list below, I still found it to be a compelling page turner. It's tense and twisty, with the kind of ending that makes you go, "Huh." I'm still not sure what I think of it! I do know that I whipped through The Stranger Game in a few hours, anxious to see how it would wrap up. In the end, I liked the book, didn't love it. Still, it's an engrossing psychological thriller that will appeal to fans of Gillian Flynn and Ruth Ware.
*A couple interesting tidbits about this book and author:
—Busby has a disappearance story of her own, which she writes about in a memoir called The Year We Disappeared.
—The Stranger Game was inspired by the fascinating true case of Nicholas Barclay, a Texas boy who disappeared when he was 13. Warning: to avoid spoilers, read about Nicholas only after you've read The Stranger Game.
If this were a movie, it would be rated:
for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, and depictions of underage drinking
To the FTC, with love: Another library