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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Mystery/Family Drama Novel a Nuanced, Touching Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ever since her dad died three years ago, Maddy Gaines' anxiety has been out of control.  The 11-year-old sees danger lurking around every corner, even if no one else does.  She's made so many emergency calls to local authorities that they don't take her seriously anymore.  So, when she meets a mysterious boy setting booby traps in the cemetery, a boy who looks an awful lot like one who went missing six months ago, Maddy knows she can't take her knowledge to the police without proof that the kid really is Billy Holcom.  Maddy is warned off the hunt by her arch enemy, who insists the boy is just his visiting cousin.  She won't be thwarted that easily, not when she's discovered a real emergency, but she will be sure to gather proof this time.  The boy is Billy and Maddy aims to make sure he's found.  When she discovers a reason he might need to stay hidden, however, she realizes that not everything is as it seems.  Is she truly rescuing the kid or putting him in more danger?

Every Missing Piece by Melanie Conklin is a nuanced middle-grade novel that's part mystery, part family drama.  Maddy has a lot to deal with—grief over losing her dad, managing her anxiety, accepting her new, trying-too-hard stepfather, and grappling with a BFF who's leaving Maddy behind as she grows up too fast—even before she starts playing detective.  Her earnestness is appealing, making her a character who's easy to like and root for.  Plot-wise, Every Missing Piece is exciting and engrossing.  The book is also full of subtle lessons about friendship, family, and figuring out how to adapt when change rocks your safe, orderly world.  Every Missing Piece is a touching novel that I very much enjoyed.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me a bit of Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, tough subject matter (death of a parent, domestic violence, etc.), and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find  

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to see anxiety showing up in middle grade books so that kids with it know they are not alone.


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