"I was so far from normal, it wasn't even funny—except, of course, when it was," remarks Footer Davis, establishing the tone for an investigation into missing kids and parental mental illness.
For Footer, normality includes her mother going off her medication and pulverizing snakes with an elephant gun, leading to hospitalization for her bipolar disorder. Coinciding with her mother's latest episode is the case of two children who disappeared in a fire after a murder, which Footer and her friends are determined to solve, their record of the investigation playing out via interviews and banter in their notebooks. The notebook entries provide levity, light romance and strong touches of character development in an increasingly tense plot. Suddenly, Footer is seeing a girl in flames and hearing her mother's voice. What if Footer is inheriting her mother's illness? Worse, what if her mother was involved in the murder? When everything seems like a symptom on the Internet, the line between "normal" and "crazy" blurs, and Vaught traces it with realistic care. As Footer tries to make sense of her mother's disjointed conversations, the line touches her mother, too—readers will be moved and reassured to discover that even in her illness, her mother is still a mother, watching out for Footer in her own ways.
A sensitive, suspenseful mystery that deftly navigates the uncertainty of mental illness. (Mystery. 10-12)