MISSING GIRLS by Lois Metzger


Age Range: 10 - 14
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A girl’s interest in family history overlaps a coming-of-age story about her vestigial understanding of her mother after death, and her own awareness of self and place in the world. Junior high-school student Carrie Schmidt identifies strongly with the missing girls of 1967’s headlines about runaways. Carrie’s mother is dead and she has just moved in with her grandmother, Mutti, who embarrasses her with her foreign accent and ways. Carrie’s ideal is her friend Mona’s mother, a “professional” who dresses properly, smells good, and knows how to set out a table; readers will grasp the mother’s superficiality, even though Carrie, at first, does not. Mutti has terror in her past, and tells Carrie stories of the Jews in WWII Vienna, and of subsequent events in nine concentration camps; these are mined under the premise that Carrie needs stories for “dream” material and her interest in so-called lucid dreaming, a diverting backdrop that deepens the story without overwhelming it. Mutti’s gripping, terrible tales and the return of an old friend who raised Carrie’s mother when she was sent to Scotland at age nine awaken in Carrie a connection to her current family, to her ancestry, and, ultimately, to a stronger sense of self. This uncommon novel from Metzger (Ellen’s Case, 1995, etc.) steps out of the genre of historical fiction to tell a story as significant to contemporary readers as to the inhabitants of the era it evokes. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-670-87777-8
Page count: 194pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1999