It's rare to find a good, suspenseful novel in the YA section in the vein of THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED by April Henry. Even better, while this is technically a mystery, it also isn't, because the novel is told in multiple points of view. There are times when you see behind the eyes of the man who lured Kayla out, so you always know who he is. It's more of a thriller, because he's hidden his tracks well and no one suspects him. The main narrators, Gabie and Drew, are co-workers at Pete's Pizza, and the man on the phone the night pizza delivery girl Kayla went missing asked for Gabie, not Kayla. Everyone at work is shaken up, and no females are allowed to make deliveries anymore. The police think the man asked for Gabie to hide the fact he really wanted Kayla, but Gabie and Drew don't believe that. They form a close bond over the experience and work together to keep hope alive. This is a REALLY hard book to talk about in terms of summary, so I won't, but if you want something to keep you reading all night, this is definitely a novel worth picking up.
When I first heard about THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED, I noticed that it shared a theme of car kidnapping with Henry's previous novel, GIRL STOLEN. This is Henry's thirteenth novel, so I'm sure her topics are very diverse, but I've only read the two teen novels she's put out with Henry Holt/Macmillan. The two books are actually quite different from one another, though. One of the things that intrigued me the most about GIRL STOLEN was the fact that the main character was blind and completely vulnerable to the world. As I read THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED, I was surprised to see another hard underlying thread of imperfection. Drew's mother is a tweaker who has developed a hoarding disorder. She compulsively hoards items in storage containers, and has taken to stealing such items from other people. The way Drew views her reminds me a bit of DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS by C. J. Omololu, a book I read and enjoyed last year.
I also thought Henry's character development was much stronger in THE NIGHT SHE DISAPPEARED, perhaps because we saw things from the eyes of both Gabie and Drew. The novel's ending is also much more fleshed out. With GIRL STOLEN, I wanted just a little bit more. It felt slightly incomplete. While this feeling lingers slightly in Henry's latest offering, it's in a way that leaves things to our own imaginations and is satisfactory. As you'll see if you read my design analysis below, I think the attention to small detail such as 911 transcripts, bloody notes, and more enhanced the reading experience and made the situation feel much more real and immediate. This was an overall well-put-together novel that makes for a fast, breathless read.
And can I just say...completely, 100% off-topic...I LOVE that this: