After her niece is kidnapped from a hotel room, 12-year-old Jess must find the baby and get her back.
Jess, the youngest in her fractured family, is the responsible one, the one everyone depends on. So when her feckless adult brother bullies her into babysitting so he can go to sister Whee’s wedding rehearsal dinner (which means that Jess can’t), she dutifully acquiesces. Feeling resentful and uncharacteristically rebellious, Jess leaves Baby Ruby on the bed while she goes into the bathroom to try on Whee’s wedding dress and play with her makeup. When Jess comes out, the baby is gone. Convinced that the kidnapper is a man she saw hanging around the hallway, Jess goes to investigate, telling only her older sister Teddy what she’s up to. The plot, which youngsters should find suspenseful, is wildly preposterous, with each turn more ludicrous than the one before. But Shreve’s main interest is in the family dynamic, particularly Jess’ close connection to her troubled but devoted sister Teddy. Their relationship, supported by the solidly centered, paternal detective (a canny foil for the girls’ more solipsistic parents), is the strongest part of the novel and rings true.
An entertaining thriller with a feel-good ending that, despite its over-the-top plot, showcases the emotionally resonant ties that bind sisters and families. (Thriller. 8-12)