Ten years after the widely publicized kidnapping of Sam's baby sister, Turtle, Sam and her family return to live in the home where the abduction took place.
In a detail-rich, nostalgic narrative voice, Sam describes the fateful night and its aftermath. It was 1986; Sam was 7 and Turtle, 4. Alternating chapters take readers to 1996, when Sam and her altered, numbed family return to Shelocta. Sam's older sister, Gretchen, whose much-older boyfriend was eventually convicted of Turtle's murder, has come back to Shelocta from Texas; Hannah, the 5-year-old sister everyone agrees is serving as Turtle's replacement in her parents' minds, flits innocently through the action, unaware of her family's history. Tension among family members and with old neighbors, former acquaintances, and Sam's childhood best friend drives the largely atmospheric story forward. Interspersed throughout are excerpts from the book an investigative journalist has written about Turtle's case. These interview transcripts and outsider descriptions of family members add to the pervasive sense of distance and fragility in a community blown apart by trauma. Oddly, the resolution is far more plot-based than the lead-up would suggest. Many of the character-based questions (When will Hannah learn about what happened to Turtle? What sort of relationship will Sam and Remy have now?) go unanswered.
Hauntingly written but leaves readers wondering, what now? (Mystery. 14 & up)