A small-town teen copes with the disappearance of her sister.
Rhylee has always felt inferior to her year-older sister, Abby. A cross-country star, Abby is beloved by everyone in their largely white, rural Ohio town and is dating Rhylee’s longtime friend and crush, their neighbor Tommy. When Abby sees Rhylee and Tommy kissing at a party, she runs off into the woods—and doesn’t come home. As days of searching turn into weeks, Tommy becomes a prime suspect, Rhylee’s feelings of guilt double—she’s convinced she’s at fault and that Tommy is innocent—and she is forced to contend with the notion that Abby may indeed have died. Yet those desperate for signs of Abby’s survival see them everywhere: a crop circle in the backyard (a prank or supernatural?), muddy footprints in a bedroom, movement in the woods. As searches turn into nightly community vigils in the family’s backyard, Rhylee struggles with invasions to her privacy and her grieving process as she learns to live with no closure. Alpine does a fair job of showing—albeit without subtlety—the challenges of coping with loss and uncertainty while in the public eye. However, the structural use of Abby’s disappearance as the impetus for Rhylee’s blandly predictable personal growth may disappoint both feminist readers and those looking for greater emotional depth.
A lukewarm effort. (Fiction. 14-17)