The Girl In the White Van – April Henry – Henry Holt and Company – Published 28 July 2020




When Savannah disappears soon after arguing with her mom’s boyfriend, everyone assumes she’s run away. The truth is much worse. She’s been kidnapped by a man in a white van who locks her in an old trailer home, far from prying eyes. And worse yet, Savannah’s not alone: Ten months earlier, Jenny met the same fate and nearly died trying to escape. Now as the two girls wonder if he will hold them captive forever or kill them, they must join forces to break out—even if it means they die trying.

My thoughts

Girl in the White Van is exactly the kind of book I am always on the lookout for to add to our mystery/thriller YA collection. It is an engaging, quick read, with strong characters. Girl in the White Van is a thrilling book. Scary but hopefully, dark and gritty but full of empowerment and a sense of justice.

Savannah is just waiting until she turns 18 and she can escape her mother’s toxic pattern of moving in with random guys. While she doesn’t love living with her mother’s latest boyfriend, she is enjoying living in Portland. She loves her Kung fu class and is just getting to know one of her classmates, Daniel. But on the way home from class, Savannah is grabbed by a man in a white van. Drugged, hurt and confused, Savannah wakes in an old trailer home. But she isn’t alone. Jenny was taken nine months ago.

While the majority of the chapters are written from Savannah’s perspective, there are also chapters from Jenny, Daniel, Jenny and Savannah’s parents’ perspective and a variety of other side characters, including the suspects. The reader is given an insight into the person responsible, but the mystery of who they are remains and builds the tension.

While there is a fair bit of fighting, injuries and violence and an overall sense of bad things, the story is clean from sexual content or coarse language, so I’ll be happy to promote this with readers ages 12 and up who are okay with violence, which is really hard to find in YA mystery thrillers.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

More information

Category: Young adult fiction

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Themes: Abduction, kung fu, romance, family, mother-daughter relationships, mystery, detective work.

Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.

Advisory: Violence, abduction, injuries, dog bites, serious injuries, scars.

Representation: No ethnic backgrounds specified. Heterosexual relationships.

Published: 28 July 2020

Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 224 pages.

ISBN: 9781250157591

Find it on Goodreads