Review by Jackie Marchant
This was shortlisted for the inaugural YA Book Award and, to be honest, I preferred it to the winner, but that’s another story. There is so much to this book – a great plot, a mystery, a puzzle or two, a dash of thriller and a tough challenge, all bound up with excellent writing.
It begins with Laureth trying to convince herself that she’s not abducting her seven year old brother, even though she’s at the airport with him and her mother’s credit card. It takes a while to realise why young Ben is an essential companion as she tries to find out why her father has disappeared in New York when he’s supposed to be in Switzerland. It’s only towards the end of the first chapter that you realise Laureth is blind. Even then, it takes her a long time before she quietly confesses to someone. She doesn’t want to bring attention to herself as she fears they will send her back for travelling with a seven year old.
What chance does a blind sixteen year old girl have in finding a missing father, when her only aid is a young boy who thinks this is a planned trip to visit him? But Laureth is resourceful and, despite what she thinks, responsible. She manages to meet the person who contacted her father to tell him that he’d found his notebook. As Lauren answers all her father’s fan mail, she now knows that her father is not where he’s supposed to be and, even worse, he’s lost his precious notebook. Her father is a writer and, as one myself, I know that loss of a notebook is an absolute disaster. But when Laureth meets up with the person who found it, they are not what they seemed and the mystery only deepens.
Then there is the content of the notebook. To the reader, lots of quirky notes about coincidence, strange cults and suicides, but to Laureth the frightening truth that her father might be in real danger. So she goes off to New York with her little brother to find him. Then the trouble really starts. But I will say no more as I don’t want to give anything away.
This is not your usual page-turner. As well as gripping, it is original and quirky, beautifully written, with realistic characters and plausibility. It’s described as a thriller, but it is so much more than that.
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