Sunday, November 27, 2016

Never Missing, Never Found - Amanda Panitch

Never Missing, Never Found
Amanda Panitch
Random House

Young Adult/Thriller

Once upon a time, Scarlett Contreras was an ordinary girl in third grade.  All of that changed when she was abducted off the street.  A man hauled her into his car and took her to a house, where she was forced to perform household tasks for the many women who lived in the house.  The boss was an older woman who told her, over and over again, that Scarlett’s family didn’t want her and was not even looking for her.  Being a terrified child, Scarlett believed her.  

During her imprisonment, another girl came to join her.  She was a small girl with a rat-ish face, named Pixie.  She continually tried to escape.  The penalty for such an attempt was, at the very least, a severe beating.  Pixie refused to fold, even after repeated beatings and frequent starvation punishments.  After being held for years, Scarlett was suddenly given a choice: remain in captivity with the girl she now calls her sister, or leave her behind and leave the house, alone.  It was a difficult choice, but Scarlett left the house.  She made it to a police station and told them her name.  Within hours, she was reunited with her family.

Trying for the life of a normal teenager, at 17, Scarlett takes a job at a local amusement park for the summer.  She begins making friends while trying very hard not to speak of her past.  Then Katharina appears.  She’s also a new hire and seems strangely familiar.  She seems to know Scarlett, and does not like her.  She makes mean comments to other employees, and alludes to Scarlett’s years of captivity and the fears that she still carries.  She clearly knows more than she should.  Who is this girl?  What does she know?  Why is she so set on ruining Scarlett’s attempt at a real life?

Like her previous novel DAMAGE DONE, the author does a great job at telling the story while building suspense.  It seems both completely impossible, and possible, that Katharina might be Pixie.  She might very well be angry that Scarlett left her in that house, alone.  This might be her revenge.  But that sounds so crazy, even to Scarlett.  She’s trying so hard to build a real life for herself, with friends, a possible boyfriend, a job.  Who else would want to ruin that for her?

The plotting is laid out perfectly, playing both sides of the ‘is she/isn’t she’ question with equal conviction.  When you add in a sister who, on her best day, doesn’t seen thrilled to have her home, a dad who seems to wish that she could just forget the whole thing, and a bunch of summer co-workers who are more than happy to spread and believe rumors,  and you’ve got a powerfully emotional story.  This story is possibly too dark for younger/tween readers, but it’s great for teens and older readers alike.


Rating: 8
July 2016

ISBN# 978-0-553-550764-5   (hardcover)

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