A young woman revisits her own traumatic past when she helps search for a missing little girl in this psychological thriller.
Kira has lived with her caring foster mom, Cady, a rescue dog trainer, and her goofy foster brother, Jude, since she was found in the woods as a child. She’s developed close relationships with both of them and with their spirited neighbor, Free, though in many ways it’s the dogs they train to whom she feels the strongest kinship. Her world is shaken to its core, however, when Cady’s long-estranged father, Bales, suddenly appears and they get pulled into the search effort in Sierra Glades National Park, which borders Cady’s hometown. Kira’s first-person narration will grip readers as she experiences troubling flashbacks to her own long-ago ordeal that progressively ratchet the tension of this mystery up as it unfolds. Leisurely paced, the slow build allows for the introduction of an array of somewhat unevenly developed characters, including a teen named Gabriel who lives with Bales, has been in legal trouble, and whose own family history is mired in secrets. The penultimate denouement will likely take readers by surprise as the plot detours into an unpredictable twist. All main characters are assumed white except for Gabriel, who is Latinx.
An engaging, clever, suspenseful story in which readers—especially dog-loving teens—will easily lose themselves. (Thriller. 12-18)