Vanishing Girls is a creative, relatable, and gripping novel. Before opening the book, its title had me expecting a depressing mystery novel about kidnapped girls. I expected to read a book that was going to drag out and leave me anxious. However, my worries "vanished" into thin air after reading the first page. Though this book contains mystery, the story itself is much more complex.
To begin with, this book had a very different plot than the Delirium series, another group of books written by Lauren Oliver. Vanishing Girls isn't futuristic, romantic, or extravagant in any way. Refreshingly, the novel does not need any of these aspects to keep your attention. Instead you will be drawn in by the story's realism. This novel is unique and it has many themes, including emotional anguish, family, love, healing, childhood, and mystery.
After a tragic accident, you are thrown into the lives of Dara and Nick, two sisters who are trying to get their old lives back. The focus is on the emotional relationship between the girls, who feel both deep resentment and deep love for each other. The two girls struggle to differentiate themselves, but they somehow grow to be exactly the same and completely different simultaneously. This book explores many different emotions. It also brings up memories of childhood. For anyone like myself, who has a sister or a brother, this story will relate to the feelings associated with siblings.
Vanishing Girls reminded me of the types of things that I explored and found mysterious when I was younger. That strange cluster of bushes, the monsters under the bed, the games and dares between friends. Things that seem so illogical now, but captured so much imagination and attention back then. I really enjoyed being part of not just Nick and Dara's childhood, but also the development of their lives before and after the accident.
As I have described this novel so far, I may have made it sound too sentimental or mushy-gushy. I can assure you that this book contains a perfect balance of drama, excitement, thrill and adventure. It is a great book for people of different ages and preferences. Do not be discouraged like I was by its title. It is not drawn out or extremely sad. Like many books, it has it's fair share tear-jerking and cheering for joy moments. Upon final interpretation, I realize the title has much more meaning than a literal vanishing girl. If there is one lesson this book taught me, it is that people are capable of vanishing in different ways.
Johanna de Jong is a senior at Bishop Macdonell.