Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before– before Dara kissed Parker, before Nick lost him as her best friend, before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred. Now the two sisters, who used to be close, aren’t speaking. In an instant, Nick lost everything and is determined to use the summer to get it all back.
But Dara has other plans. When she vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl has vanished, too– nine-year-old Madeline Snow– and as Nick pursues her sister, she becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances may be linked.
— From the book jacket of Vanishing Girls
Sisters Nick and Dara used to do everything together. That is until Dara started pulling away from Nick. Until she started living a life without her sister. Until she started dating Nick’s best friend, Parker. Until the drinking and the drugs and things Nick doesn’t even know about. Until the accident.
Nick doesn’t remember the accident. She doesn’t know why she was driving Dara down that rainy coastal road. She doesn’t know why her car suddenly slammed through a guardrail and hit solid rock. She’s tried to remember, but there’s nothing there. Just a blank space where the accident should be. All she knows is that in an instant, everything changed. Dara is no longer speaking to Nick, not even able to stand being in the same room with her. Nick hopes that this summer she can start to mend their broken relationship and get her sister back.
When Dara disappears on her birthday, Nick is sure that something is wrong. One girl, a nine year-old, has already gone missing, and Nick is positive the two disappearances are related. While she desperately searches for Dara in the dead of night, she realizes there’s much more to Dara’s story than she ever knew.
I wish I could scream about this book, and all my thoughts on it, but, because of its nature, I don’t want to give anything away, so I can only speak with ambiguity. And it’s killing me!
The story is told from the points of view of both Nick and Dara, and features brief excerpts from Dara’s diary entries, various emails, blog posts, and news websites about the accident and the disappearance of nine year-old Madeline Snow (which even include comment sections, complete with trolls– props for authenticity). Not only are there different narrators, but they switch between “before” and “after” the accident, so paying attention to the dates that begin the chapters is imperative, especially in the beginning. I got lost several chapters in and had to keep flipping back to previous chapters to figure out the timeline.
As the story unfolds, it becomes easier to piece together the timeline from all its sources, and things start to fall into place much easier. Until they don’t. There will come a point where you stop and say, “Wait. What?” Followed quickly by, “Oh. Ohhhhhhhhh…” And then you’ll race to the end only to start over again, scouring everything you’ve just read, and wondering how you could have possibly missed something like that. You’ll find all the little comments– the clues that should have tipped you off, but didn’t– expertly woven within the story like Easter eggs just waiting to be spotted.
These are my favorite kind of stories– the one’s that stay with me long after, puzzling my brain to find all the details I overlooked the first time. If you read and loved We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, I highly suggest this one as well. (And if you haven’t read We Were Liars, go do it. Right now!)
Because of alcohol, drug use, and sexual content, I would recommend it for high school and beyond. But I definitely recommend it! Lauren Oliver is quickly becoming an author that I will read anything they release. She hasn’t disappointed me yet.
Find out more about Lauren Oliver