When Kristen disappears one night, her absence leaves a gap that affects everyone, especially two people her own age.
Kristen's best friend, Natalie, grieves for her missing friend, even while finding herself on the cusp of a new relationship with a boy that's based on trust, a relationship she'd love nothing more than to tell Kristen all about. But that's impossible, because Corey killed Kristen. At least, that's what Natalie and the rest of the town thinks. But, as Corey writes in his journal, “I could never hurt her.” Corey and Kristen were friends. In each other, they found someone who understood what it felt like to be on the outside of things. Unfortunately, Corey was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and he's getting the blame. If Kristen knew, she'd come back, but her story takes place far away from her friends. Johnston weaves a braid of three first-person narratives into a solid plot, creating believable teen characters who find themselves struggling against adults who don’t always take their best interests into account. The narrative manages to be suspenseful, even as the main mystery is revealed almost immediately, and the final puzzle is satisfying, though occasionally the dialogue and inner monologues feel forced. Corey’s an unspecified part “Native,” Kristen’s dark-skinned, and Natalie’s likely white; the story is set in the Seattle area.
Overall, the tripartite narration works well to deliver a suspenseful story. (Fiction. 14-18)