Book Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver
4.5 out of 5
I’m not sure if I’ve made this well known, but Lauren Oliver is one of my favorite modern authors. Her stories are always interesting and her writing style is beautiful. I’ve yet to be disappointed by her. Vanishing Girls is on my 2015 Reading Challenge list (which I desperately need to work on) for a book published this year.
The premise of the story is fairly simple:
Nick and Dara are sisters who grew up extremely close with one another. That bond was severed when the two of them were in a car accident, causing Dara to be hurt while Nick came out untouched physically.
Two months and some days had passed without the two of them interacting. Nick had moved in with her father, who had left their mother, while Dara remained home with their mother, extremely hurt and scarred. After being picked up by the police, Nick is forced to move back home with her unstable mother and her absent sister. She is forced to get a job at the local amusement park, FanLand, working alongside her former best friend and Dara’s ex boyfriend, Parker.
Nick and Dara experience a lot of nostalgia and longing for the relationship to be fixed, which is followed along the timeline of a missing girl, Madeline Snow. Their stories become intertwined in a shocking way as the sisters uncover the truth about Madeline and the truth of their accident.
Now, I normally give a moderate analytical review of books, but I’m finding it extremely hard to do that with this book. It’s very close to being a perfect story; I just can’t put my finger on what is truly missing from it.
The story definitely hit my emotions, and hit them hard. Throughout the beginning of the novel the nostalgic feel and struggles with change, guilt, depression, and a broken home really resonated with me. While I wouldn’t have been able to really place myself in the shoes of Nick or Dara, I could see myself reflected in their pain and their hopes. This novel had the effect on me that my 11th grade lit teacher said that the Catcher in the Rye normally has on teens.
The ending has an extremely shocking revelation that I did not pick up on. It threw me off and I bawled my eyes out. I mean it. My hands were covered in mascara and eyeliner and I had mascara running down my face. This book has officially made me cry harder than anything I’ve ever read.
Reading through the first time everything seems so disconnected; related, sure, but in a minuscule way. But that all changes once the reader (if they read the story about the same way I did) reaches page 330. Everything becomes so clear and it hurts. It hurts so much, but the ending makes the entire story that much more spectacular. Everything is connected and it makes the story heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once with the journey that the sisters go on.
It wasn’t the happy ending that I was anticipating, but it was a hopeful ending that doesn’t leave me bitter.
Vanishing Girls is easily one of my new favorite books. It’s a really interesting psychological thriller that will resonate with young adults, especially those who are struggling with depression, change, and nostalgia. I would definitely recommend giving it a try.
“for a split second, she comes to me as the clouds, the sun, the wind touching my face and telling me somehow, someday, it will all be okay.
And maybe she’s right.”
– p. 357