Visions of missing girls—all of them 17 years old—haunt a fellow teen, driving her to behavioral extremes.
When Lauren Woodman notices a poster announcing Abby Sinclair’s disappearance from the nearby Lady-of-the-Pines Summer Camp for Girls, it ignites an internal spark, a sense of urgency. Lauren instinctively knows to keep quiet about it as she doggedly pursues every clue about Abby’s fate. Slowly, other missing girls intrude on Lauren’s radar: First, Fiona, her evil-tempered former baby sitter, then all sorts of girls, all seemingly forgotten, their cases cold to everyone but Lauren. As the missing girls visit Lauren’s dreams and waking life, giving her instructions and warnings, readers will quickly realize the serious mental health implications, but Lauren is smart and crafty enough to hide the truth from her loving mom and concerned boyfriend until a serious crisis erupts. As in her masterful high-wire act Imaginary Girls (2011), Suma explores the boundaries of perception, reality and mental health, but with far less assurance and skill. Overreliance on heavy foreshadowing, telling rather than showing and incremental plotting—particularly in the book’s first half—nearly overwhelm the crisper storytelling of the second half.
Suma’s exquisite sentence-level writing and fine eye for creepy detail are in abundant evidence, however, giving readers hope for a stronger, more tightly edited outing next time. (Psychological thriller. 14-18)