A teenage outcast imagines what would happen if one of her classmates was abducted only to deal with confusing consequences when fantasy becomes reality in Kavanagh’s debut novel.
Catching a glimpse of a man across from her school one afternoon, Yasmin—lonely and overweight—constructs an imaginative abduction scenario. She assumes that, if he were indeed a murderer/pedophile, he would have his eyes on Alice, the most beautiful and popular girl in Yasmin’s class. Yasmin herself has a crush on Alice, and she's been keeping a box of souvenirs that represent times that their paths have inadvertently crossed—a lost sock, a piece of snack wrapper left behind, a heart sketched on a slip of paper. Over the next several weeks, as she navigates a hostile school environment as well as her mother's and stepfather’s disappointment that she won’t keep to her diet, Yasmin begins to follow the man in question and even makes contact with him, drawn by his kindness toward her in return. When Alice really does go missing one evening, Yasmin has to decide whether she should go to the police—or has she completely misconstrued the situation? It’s hard to be in Yasmin’s head sometimes; she is such a severely unhappy character that it makes for uncomfortable reading in the first-person. It’s even hard to feel too much empathy for her, despite her history of loss, because she seems so bent on ignoring social cues as well as common sense. But Kavanagh does orchestrate some successful plot twists that are reminiscent of other psychological thrillers—classics by Ruth Rendell, for example, or more recent hits like Gone Girl.
If you can stick with Yasmin until the end, the twists and turns are worth it.