Monday, October 12, 2015

REVIEW: The Disappearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy

Raine isn't your typical eighth grader.  Sure, she's nervous about starting another new school; but, how many teenagers do you know who can experience other people's memories via sparkles she finds in the oddest places? Soon Raine learns that she and her mom have moved into the former home of Emily Huvar, a teen girl her age who has been missing for months.  Using her unique gifts, Raine sets out to learn the truth behind what happened to Emily and makes some surprising other discoveries as well.

What I liked...

There's good character development throughout.  I liked Raine from the first page and think teen readers will also.  The situations that befall her and other like Shirlee make them highly realistic.  She's not perfect and certainly has flaws but she's representative of a typical eighth grade girl.

I found the bullying theme timely and appreciated Summy's writing style and ability to explore this issue not only with Raine's and Shirlee's treatment by Jennifer and Co but also the tie in to Emily's story.  I was also quite impressed at the foreshadowing and other layered hints throughout the narrative that hinted at the big picture and that more dire happenings were in store for the little town.

What I didn't like...

I had two strong dislikes. One was Raine's plan to get even with Jennifer, especially that she brings Shirlee into the fold too.  Catfishing Jennifer for spite, ruining Jennifer's relationship with her friends and then posting it all on YouTube is just as awful as what Jennifer had done to them. Yes, Jennifer is mean, nasty and shouldn't get away with treating others as she did; however, stooping to the same types of bullying isn't conveying the right message to teen readers. While truthful, it fails to acknowledge the severe consequences that all would face in real life.

My second dislike was (SPOILER ALERT) Emily's willingness to allow her family and everyone else to believe she was kidnapped or dead.  Yes, she had strong reasons for wanting to protect her little sister and the rest of her family but the emotional distress she causes shouldn't be dealt with lightly.

Overall, this was an interesting, quick read.  I'd recommend this for purchase to a YA collection for either a public library or at a school.  It would most appeal to middle school readers who are looking for a mystery but don't want it to scary or have a lot of gore.

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars


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