Full Disclosure: I read. A lot. A stupid, stupid amount. Not all of it is worth talking about. But some of it is.
Ordinarily I’d be hesitant to pick up a book about an abducted teenage girl, since the idea has spawned an entire subgenre of commercial mystery-thriller. I have no interest in following another damaged detective navigating a city’s seedy underground (and their own personal demons) in search of a dangerous and unrepetant predator. The whole idea is as cliche as my previous sentence. However, Megan Abbott takes a cue from Alice Sebold, and gives us the perspective of the missing girl’s best friend, setting the story in a time before cell phones, the internet and public service announcements about ‘stranger danger’.
Lizzie, like all thirteen year old girls, is trying to make sense of the world around her: her mother’s late-night visitor, the subtle changes in her best friend Evie, and the mysterious allure of Evie’s seventeen year old sister. When Evie is abducted, Lizzie finds herself seeking the attention of Evie’s father, and trying to earn his approval and love by helping to solve the crime of Evie’s disappearance. The book, like real life, has no tidy ending, but a real one, reinforcing the underlying theme that a young girl’s sexuality is never a simple thing.