{Review} PRETEND SHE'S HERE by Luanne Rice

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

WHEN YOU COME FROM a big family, you're never alone -- or at least, not often enough. That afternoon, all I wanted to do was walk home by myself.

(pg 1, US ARC edition)

Nothing is scarier than real life. I hate reading or watching the news because there is so much messed up stuff happening in the world. PRETEND SHE'S HERE by Luanne Rice could have been ripped straight from the headlines:

Girl goes missing. Is she a runaway, or did something more sinister happen? Sometimes the people who hurt us are the people we'd never expect...

Emily Lonergan had no clue what was in store for her the day she saw her childhood best friend Lizzie Porter's little sister waiting for her after school. Emily passed away the previous year and Emily has been missing her desperately. Seeing Chloe again and being invited back to the truck to reunite with Mr. and Mrs. Porter thrills her. She never suspects that the family will drug and kidnap her, forcing her to pretend to be Lizzie. Mrs. Porter has been unable to cope with her daughter's death and figures that nobody will miss Emily. Emily's own mother did some horrible things in the past and is a "bad mother who doesn't deserve her healthy kids." She also has seven kids. Why would she miss one of them? The Porters know that Emily tried to run away once before until her mother cleaned up her act and is now sober. Emily and Lizzie knew one another like the back of their own hand. Emily is like another daughter to Mrs. Porter. Why shouldn't Mrs. Porter be allowed to have her and recover all that was lost?

Terrifying stuff, right? When horrible stuff happens, not everyone can handle it and something inside of them snaps. Mrs. Porter definitely snapped and went off the deep end. The fact that this book feels real and like something that could happen is horrifying. The Porters plotted this kidnapping for a long time and already told new neighbor's about their daughter's time abroad and had her enrolled at the local school. They kept Emily captive and threatened the lives of her family if she didn't follow along and pretend to be Lizzie. Mrs. Porter would go to Mrs. Lenergan and run a muted video chat so that Emily could see the knife ready to slit her mother, or bring home items from her personal closet to prove how easy it was to break into the house. Emily was terrified that if she didn't play along, her family would be murdered. There is a lot of psychological torment at play, and a focus on the way kidnapping victims are conditioned into going along with everything in order to survive. That can be the most powerful form of scary.

It's hard to talk about this book without a lot of spoilers, so instead, I will say that I'm glad we've added another psychological suspense title to YA.  I wouldn't call it a thriller (We need more of these as well), but definitely contemporary suspense! There aren't nearly enough of them, even though there is an abundance in adult fiction, and we need more titles because there is a market. It's nice to see typically adult authors such as Luanne Rice also crafting YA titles, and the read is absolutely appropriate for its targeted audience!


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( Kissing ) 
Language: --
Violence: PG ( Drugged and kidnapped; psychological damage; a non-graphic injury )
Other: G ( Mother is a recovering alcoholic )
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I like the way this cover is atmospheric. It's pretty, but something is wrong. I like that there are two girls and you don't see their faces. I like that their clothing is so different and their hair is different, which is an important factor. I like the "shredding" over the jacket. Definitely an intriguing cover!
O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Luanne Rice
Release Date: Feb. 26, 2019
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Received: For Review

Mega-bestselling author Luanne Rice returns with a ripped-from-the-headlines story of a girl who is kidnapped by her friend's family. Emily Lonergan's best friend died last year.

And Emily hasn't stopped grieving. Lizzie Porter was lively, loud, and fun -- Emily's better half. Emily can't accept that she's gone.

When Lizzie's parents and her sister come back to town to visit, Emily's heartened to see them. The Porters understand her pain. They miss Lizzie desperately, too.

Desperately enough to do something crazy.

Something unthinkable.

Suddenly, Emily's life is hurtling toward a very dark place -- and she's not sure she'll ever be able to return to what she once knew was real.

From New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice comes a breathless, unputdownable story of suspense, secrets -- and the strength that love gives us to survive even the most shocking of circumstances.