THEN YOU WERE GONE by Lauren Strasnick


Age Range: 10 - 14
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A girl becomes obsessed with her former best friend’s disappearance.

Almost every teenage girl experiences the particular brand of heartbreak caused by a special friend’s desertion. But this story comes with a twist: Two years after the magnetic and mercurial Dakota drops Adrienne, the story’s distressed narrator and protagonist, she leaves a message on Adrienne’s cellphone and then disappears. Is it suicide, as a note seems to indicate, a voluntary act or something more sinister? Adrienne, who when readers first meet her seems fairly normal, is initially shaken by the alpha girl’s disappearance, a feeling that is complicated by the guilt of having not immediately responded to her ex-friend’s call. Together with the similarly fixated-on-Dakota Julian, Dakota’s band mate and sometime boyfriend, Adrienne begins to look into the mystery, an exercise that affects her relationship with devoted boyfriend Lee and worries new best friend Kate. The action, which becomes repetitious, moves in spurts and starts, and while the protagonist’s emotional journey from stasis to obsession to freedom rings true, readers may find it hard to connect with the one-note heroine. A plot twist near the three-quarter mark gooses the story, which then picks up speed and glides smoothly to a satisfying finish, though a blackmail scene may leave readers feeling ambivalent.

This believable portrait of teenage obsession is hampered by a dull protagonist. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4424-2715-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2012


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