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If you enjoy mystery and romance with a twist of mind games and behavior you will find this book to be one you are looking for.

Book Review: ‘Vanishing Girls’ by Lauren Oliver


In Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver, we are tumbled into the lives of two girls who are not just sisters but best friends. Nick cannot remember when Dara was not there. Always in her young life, Dara was there, and always the same question, “Want to play?” Life for them was an interaction of deep love and respect. Outside themselves, only Nick’s friend Parker and Dara’s friend Arianna were included into the fold of that closeness. As they grow older, Nick is the good daughter, and Dara is a great deal wilder.

Choices in life often take away the familiar and leave us with only a ghost of the past. Having a younger sibling has both its ups and downs. When all is well there is a quality of closeness that helps to make us who we are. When that closeness dissipates for whatever reason, there is a fear of never finding the niche that will bring back that intimacy.

The accident changes everything. Nick doesn’t remember what happened, but she was driving, and Dara has been unable to forgive her. The scars remind Nick every day, and the silence from Dara is almost more than she can bear. The embarrassment from the scars and her lack of knowledge of the cause of the crash make her avoid those she cares about. She need Dara more than ever but does not know how to reach her. When Parker comes back into the picture, she is ready for his advice. But what about Dara? Parker had begun dating her, but why was he now acting like it never happened? Can she trust him as she used to when they were younger and before she understood her feelings?

As Nick starts searching for answers, and continues to try and find a way to reconnect, Dara goes missing. When Nick begins in earnest to move forward and try to help find her, Nick reaches an impenetrable wall. She can feel the difference, and suddenly everyone is looking at her oddly as well. Is Dara gone for good, and what is her part in the disappearance? She feels like she should know the answers but cannot break the barrier in her mind. Is it too late to bring back all that is lost?

This is a startling work of mystery and drama. There is so much real-life awkwardness and the feeling of closeness that develops as children that is was easy to get lost in the pages. You begin to become involved in the nuances and feel the urgency of Nick’s concerns. The characters are so real that you almost see them as the story evolves. And that too is a strange and dangerous situation.

The mystery and sadness permeate, reinforcing your own belief in the final outcome. Yet Oliver then takes a decidedly strange twist that gives us an answer to the question of just how human we are when it comes to feelings and family.

If you enjoy mystery and romance with a twist of mind games and behavior you will find this book to be one you are looking for. Once you begin you step into the shoes of the characters and will find it a hard book to put down.

This would be a great work for a reading group or book club. The nuances create a great deal of controversy and dialogue.

[amazon asin=B00KVHZVI8&template=iframe image]

About Leslie Wright

Leslie Wright is an author and blogger in the Northwest.

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One comment

  1. Please note that Vanishing Girls is a novel originally
    published by HarperCollins, in 2012, by Katia Lief. Some of my readers have
    expressed confusion, since it’s the same title and the same publisher, and so I
    am spreading the word.

    “Vanishing Girls is powerful, provocative, and
    pulsating with verve; it also marks an evolution of character and circumstance
    that should serve the series well in future installments. Further, Karin
    Schaeffer is both complex and compelling, and arguably one of the strongest
    female figures in contemporary crime fiction—and her absolute strength of will
    is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.”

    —John Valeri, Hartford Books Examiner