THE MISSING PIECE OF CHARLIE O'REILLY by Rebecca Ansari

THE MISSING PIECE OF CHARLIE O'REILLY

Age Range: 11 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Forgotten brothers, lost children, and the deep bonds of family and forgiveness come together with a touch of the supernatural in Ansari’s ghostly middle-grade thriller.

Twelve-year-old Charlie’s younger brother, Liam, has disappeared, but Charlie is the only one who remembers that he ever existed. For a year, Charlie has watched his family steadily fall apart in his brother’s absence: his mother slipping further into her depression, his father constantly away on business, and Charlie himself sitting through endless (and useless) therapy sessions and enduring vivid nightmares of century-old tragedies. His only solace is his best friend, who believes Charlie about Liam even if she also doesn’t remember him, and a young new baseball coach who tells Charlie of a hidden home for children so burdened by regret that they wish themselves never born—a tale that holds not only the answers to Liam’s disappearance and Charlie’s dreams, but a great deal more. Ansari trusts her audience with a complex narrative that traverses the breadth of time and the depths of self. The weave of guilt, family struggle, and forgiveness both complicates and complements questions of love and self-acceptance. The tiresome trope of the self-hating gay character briefly rears its head, and the romanticization of Mom’s depression veers away from what could be a fully nuanced representation—a few flaws that mar an otherwise excellent debut. The book assumes a white default.

Plot twists that’ll turn even veteran readers’ heads. (Supernatural mystery. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 5th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-06-267966-6
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2019




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