Six years after her friend Tara disappeared from a shopping mall during a game of hide-and-seek, prickly, anxious Pelly thinks she spots her buying coffee with her captor.
Pelly, who has an unnamed mental illness, goes to online rather than traditional school and works as a barista. When she serves coffee to the girl she thinks is Tara, she thinks she sees the girl mouth the words "Help me." Pelly calls the police, but they are unconvinced by her story, and Pelly instead begins following leads on her own. With the help of David, a geeky fellow barista, she tracks the man she believes is Tara's captor to Canyon City, a town two hours away from them. The story is short and fast-moving, and suspense builds quickly as Pelly puts herself in increasingly dangerous situations with only half-baked plans for getting out of them. Pelly's anxiety and strategies for managing her mental health—cutting herself, snapping a rubber band, smoking—are well-integrated into her character; this is a book about a person not an issue. David's patience in the face of Pelly's mood swings and many requests for rides, money, and other support is sometimes difficult to believe, but the relationship the two build is compelling nonetheless.
Simple but suspenseful. (Suspense. 12-18)