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.
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.
Jane Anonymous – Laurie Faria Stolarz – Wednesday Books – Published 7 January 2020
Then, “Jane” was just your typical 17-year-old in a typical New England suburb getting ready to start her senior year. She had a part-time job she enjoyed, an awesome best friend, overbearing but loving parents, and a crush on a boy who was taking her to see her favorite band. She never would’ve imagined that in her town where nothing ever happens, a series of small coincidences would lead to a devastating turn of events that would forever change her life.
Now, it’s been three months since “Jane” escaped captivity and returned home. Three months of being that girl who was kidnapped, the girl who was held by a “monster.” Three months of writing down everything she remembered from those seven months locked up in that stark white room. But, what if everything you thought you knew―everything you thought you experienced―turned out to be a lie?
Jane Anonymous is a thriller that explores both the emotional trauma of being kidnapped and surviving captivity and the fallout and struggle and pressure to return to ‘normal’ post escape. It’s a heart wrenching book that made me want to slap the adults in Jane’s life. It’s a story about the power of emotions. It’s a story about fear and trust and starting over.
One morning, while stopping in early at work to grab her best-friend’s birthday present, Jane Anonymous is kidnapped. Shoved into a car trunk, drugged and then taken to a small, white room, she is given food, a list of instructions and little hope for escape. Fast forward seven months, Jane has escaped, but share carries the physical and mental scars of her captivity.
Jane Annoymous is written as if Jane herself is reliving her story, sharing it with the reader. The book is divided into Now and Then sections, flipping between the two. This gives readers the opportunity to experience Jane’s fear and torment of the kidnapping as it happened, and at the same time, understanding the struggle she has with returning to her old life and the expectations that are placed upon her. Thanks to the power of Jane’s emotions and little details, like the names and place names used—Jane Anonymous, No Name High School—it is all too easy to image this is a retelling of true events.
The Center of the Universe – Ria Voros – Kids Can Press – Published 2 April 2019
Grace Carter’s mother — the celebrity news anchor GG Carter — is everything Grace is not. GG is a star, with a flawless wardrobe and a following of thousands, while Grace — an aspiring astrophysicist — is into stars of another kind. She and her mother have always been in different orbits.
Then one day GG is just … gone. Cameras descend on their house, news shows speculate about what might have happened and Grace’s family struggles to find a new rhythm as they wait for answers.
While the authorities unravel the mystery behind GG’s disappearance, Grace grows closer to her high school’s golden boy, Mylo, who has faced a black hole of his own. She also uncovers some secrets from her mother’s long-lost past. The more Grace learns, the more she wonders. Did she ever really know her mother? Was GG abducted … or did she leave? And if she left, why?
The Center of the Universe is an fascinating YA contemporary novel about growing up, about family, about love and friendship, about horrible events that change and shape lives, about waiting and overcoming, about learning to listen, and about watching the stars. Part mystery, part coming-of-age contemporary, The Center of the Universe is sure to delight and surprise YA contemporary readers.