Review: The Night She Disappeared

the-night-she-disappeared-cover

Hi bookies (personal book collectors)!

I recently read a pair of books by a new (to me) author. April Henry. She has written great books from what I can tell. I don’t usually read this type of book, but let me explain what I’m talking about.

Title: The Night She Disappeared

Author: April Henry

Genre: Mystery, Young Adult, Crime Fiction

# of pages: 229

As always, here’s the blurb:

Gabie drives a Mini Cooper. She also works part time as a delivery girl at Pete's Pizza. One night, Kayla-another delivery girl-goes missing. To her horror, Gabie learns that the supposed kidnapper had asked if the girl in the Mini Cooper was working that night. Gabie can't move beyond the fact that Kayla's fate was really meant for her, and she becomes obsessed with finding Kayla. She teams up with Drew, who also works at Pete's. Together, they set out to prove that Kayla isn't dead-and to find her before she is.

Has it gotten your attention yet? It got mine when I pulled it off a shelf. It’s basically one of those middle school, who-is-the-criminal type of books. But I was surprised when I did a bit more research to learn that this book is based off of a real-life crime. April Henry got the idea from an old newstory about…well, let me just let her explain it:

The Night She Disappeared was inspired by a real-life case that happened nearly 30 years ago. A man ordered some pizzas to be delivered to what turned out to be a false address. He asked if “the girl in the orange Volkswagen” was working delivery that night and was told a different girl was. That girl’s car was later found with the keys in the ignition and the pizzas and her hat on the ground. Her body was never found.

The parents hired a psychic, who zeroed in on a young man who owned a truck similar to one that had been seen in the vicinity. Right after that man talked to the psychic, he killed himself, never revealing where he had left the delivery girl’s body. For years, the case was considered closed — until another man, already in prison, confessed to the murder. The man who committed suicide had nothing to do with it. I was always fascinated by this twist, and decided to write a book with a better outcome than the real story. I also wondered how it would feel to know that you were the girl the killer asked for first. In high school, I worked at Pietros Pizza, so I was able to draw on that experience for real-life details.

I have to say, that does sound like an interesting news story that would spark ideas. But now back to the review. Well, it was a quick read. I finished this book in a few hours. It wasn’t so easy that I got bored. That was good. It is written in pretty simple language so it works well for kids. The point of view switches between Gabie, Drew, Kayla, and a tiny bit of the abductor’s and a few minor characters.

Now, while I’m sure kids will understand the story and language, I’m not so sure that 6th grade age level kids and below should read this. It’s not hard to understand, but there are a few parts that get a little dark. The main character, Gabie, becomes obsessed with understanding what might have happened to her workmate and how she must have felt when she was kidnapped. So she tries to copy some ‘scenes’ she imagines happened and has some disturbing thoughts due to her guilty conscience. Take a look at this example:

“And why the rock? Did she cut her hand falling? Or was it something worse? Had the bad things happened yet, or was it just the beginning? Or- my heart quickens here- maybe Kayla was the one who hefted the rock. Maybe she hit him in the head and then fled the quickest way she could, by jumping into the river. But how could she survive a nighttime swim in swift-moving water?

And that’s when I kick off my shoes.”

Clearly, these questions are not very good ones to get obsessed with. Younger children would probably not benefit from these type of questions. So I would recommend this book for those 13 and older.

For those of you that meet this requirement, this book isn’t that scary. The story is mostly focused on Gabie and how she is feeling, her relationship with Drew. You’re trying to figure out who the bad guy is and what his motivations are. Honestly, the book doesn’t really say. I guess this can be seen as realistic, because in real life, you don’t always get a reason or why people do bad things to others.

In contrast to the realism, the end is a mostly happy ending with the main problem reaching its conclusion and the relationships that were damaged were repaired. The end focuses mostly on the budding romance between Drew and Gabie, which you could see coming from a mile away. So there’s nothing shocking or too descriptive (it is for kids after all), but it was enjoyable to just chill out to.

As for my rating… I will give it a 3/5. It does well for the audience it is focused on, but it can give more details. It jumps straight into the romance between Drew and Gabie without giving it enough time to develop. The abductor mostly remains as a sort of ‘shadowy figure’ even when you uncover who it is. I would have liked for the author to explain more about the abductor to make it more realistic or have more of an impact.

What about you bookies? Does this rating seem fair to you? What would you rate it? What was the first book to ‘traumatize’ you?

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Review: The School Story

The School Story

Hi bookies (those who pour their hearts and souls into literature),

I just read a great book. It’s not the normal adult or young adult books that I’ve posted reviews on before. No, this is my first review on a children’s book or “tween” book. I don’t mind and I hope you won’t either. There’s the famous old saying about books that goes like…hmm…what was it again? “Don’t judge a book by a cover”? Well, this doesn’t just apply to covers or books, as everyone well knows. So I also apply it to book genres and intended audiences. I don’t limit myself to fit in the “intended audience”. That’s how I have found a lot of funny, clever, and entertaining books that I have really enjoyed. One of them being…

Title: The School Story
Author: Andrew Clements
Genre: Children’s Literature

There are plenty of reasons to read this book. The author is a well-known writer who in my opinion writes really good children’s books that happen to appeal to adults as well. Maybe you’ve heard of Frindle or The Landry News? Both excellent books that are written by the same author. The author writes really good, clean books. Best of all, it has what I love the most along with a good story- lessons/facts you can learn. (Want to find another book that excels in this? See my soon-to-come Pastwatch review.)

If this isn’t enough to convince you, think about this. If you read this book, you’ll break out of bubble you might be placing yourself in. Why do you have to stick only to adult books? Have fun. Be a kid again. Remember your own dreams and goals and those good times back in your childhood. As every good reader knows, you tend to open up your mind to new things when you read books. You gain so much mental flexibility with all the adventures and knowledge coming to you. So why not take a crazy chance? Why not do a crazy dance? ink&scales walks over to slap me Thanks Aramia, for snapping me out of a sudden bout of quoting lyrics. Anyway, in case you still need ANOTHER reason, think of the advantages of reading children’s books as an adult. You will be able to “connect” more easily with the younger generations, you’ll understand their interests/p.o.v., plus you’ll be able to recommend good books for your own children or for other people’s children. (Especially if you are a teacher!) So, if you’re not convinced…see a doctor. Something must be wrong with you! For those of you who are following me so far, let’s get started with the book’s pros and cons.

The title is pretty simple and I basically ignored the cover until the very end. When you read the book, DON’T SKIP AHEAD!!! There’s a small twist that I found pleasantly surprising, a bit amusing, and clever. Well, you might be wondering: what’s the book about anyway? Here’s the blurb:

Two middle school girls scheme to publish a book in this novel from Andrew Clements, the author of Frindle.

Natalie’s best friend, Zoe, is sure that the novel Natalie’s written is good enough to be published. But how can a twelve-year-old girl publish a book? Natalie’s mother is an editor for a big children’s publisher, but Natalie doesn’t want to ask for any favors.

Then Zoe has a brilliant idea: Natalie can submit her manuscript under a pen name, with Zoe acting as her literary agent. But it’s not easy for two sixth graders to put themselves over as grown-ups, even with some help from a couple of real grown-ups who are supportive but skeptical. The next bestselling school story may be in their hands—but can Natalie and Zoe pull off their masquerade?

This book is well-paced and interesting. As I was reading, it flowed so smoothly that I never noticed when one chapter ended and another began. I will admit it was a quick read. It took me less than 2 hours. But I feel that it is totally worth it.

not hard in one day

As for the plot itself, I think it will appeal to most adult readers. Why? Well, if you are an adult and still love reading or have it as a main hobby, congratulations! You are one of the few. I had a few classmates in school who loved reading, just like me. Unfortunately, life got to them and got them so busy that as an adult, they didn’t have time to read. Once they finally got enough time to try to rekindle that love, it was too late- damage had been done and reading just wasn’t the same for them. So if you are an adult reader, chances are that you have passed the danger zone. You still love reading and as an avid book reader, you have thought about how a good book is created. Maybe you’ve even considered writing your own book. That’s what this book is about.

As for the previously mentioned lessons it teaches, some of them are loyalty, bravery, true friendship, loss,  parent-child relationships, etc. It does teach about all these things in the subtle form a story.

The adults in this story are the adults there should be in this world and the way we should strive to be. The kids in this story are very real, down-to-earth, street-smart kids who have a good heart and try to achieve dreams by planning ahead and thinking things through. Could they have backed down and given up? Yes. Will they? No. Why is it so necessary to get the book published? Do they publish their book? That’s for me to know and for you to find out!

I give this book 5/5 stars.***** Definitely should be read! What do you guys think? Do you agree with the rating? Have you read any of Andrew Clements books? Which ones?