Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Review: 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma

17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma
Reviewed by Maggie: April 17, 2013
Published March 21, 2013 by Dutton Juvenile
Goodreads • Buy at AmazonKindleIndie Bound

I spent most of this book confused. Like the main character, I wasn't sure what was going on or what was going to happen next. And then it all came together. It's unfortunate that discussing how it all came together is a huge spoiler because it's such an important topic, but luckily, Nova Ren Suma addresses more than one worthwhile issue.

17 & Gone is about in-between girls at that in-between age. They're not legally adults but they left the protection of childhood long ago. If these girls disappear, it's noted but not particularly noteworthy. Expected even. Lauren isn't one of those girls. She lives with her mother, goes to school, and has a boyfriend. Yet one day, she finds herself drawn to a flyer of a missing girl, Abigail Sinclair. She knows without a doubt that Abigail actually went by "Abby." She knows this because Abby is talking to her.

This is a book that could've easily turned into a public service announcement or after school special, but instead Nova Ren Suma weaves her message into a taut thriller. Even when I was confused, I couldn't put it down. The first part, where Lauren obsessively tracks down details of missing girl after missing girl, was heartbreaking and staggering. There's a "ripped from the headlines" feel because they probably were. At one point, Lauren wonders,
I was 17.
I was a girl.
Didn't we matter?
The second part deals with a topic I wish was explored more. I'm being purposefully vague but wanting more is just a testament to the quality of the writing. I expected a straight criminal procedural, but 17 & Gone surprised me with its creative depiction of relevant and serious issues.

Rating: 4/5 stars.

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