Friday, October 3, 2014

Book Review: The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: July 2014
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source/Format: Library/Hardcover

Girls started vanishing in the fall, and now winter's come to lay a white sheet over the horror. Door County, it seems, is swallowing the young, right into its very dirt. From beneath the house on Water Street, I've watched the danger swell.

The residents know me as the noises in the house at night, the creaking on the stairs. I'm the reflection behind them in the glass, the feeling of fear in the cellar. I'm tied—it seems—to this house, this street, this town.

I'm tied to Maggie and Pauline, though I don't know why. I think it's because death is coming for one of them, or both.

All I know is that the present and the past are piling up, and I am here to dig.I am looking for the things that are buried.

From bestselling author Jodi Lynn Anderson comes a friendship story bound in snow and starlight, a haunting mystery of love, betrayal, redemption, and the moments that we leave behind.

The Review
Maggie Larsen moves to the peninsula town of Gill Creek after her mom loses her job in Chicago. The family has inherited an old Victorian house on Lake Michigan and live practically out in the middle of nowhere, with only two neighbors to speak of. There, Maggie meets and befriends Pauline, a wild, carefree girl, and Liam, the quiet boy who has loved Pauline all his life. As Maggie settles into her new life in Gill Creek, girls in the community start turning up dead--found drowned in Lake Michigan. Rumors fly as to who the killer could be; is it Gerald, the odd old man who sells gramophones at the local antique store, or could it be Liam's father, whose status as an outsider and eccentric atheist make him a prime target for suspicion?

Right off the bat, I was drawn in by the mystery in The Vanishing Season, especially once I learned that part of the story is told through the point of view of a ghost, who seems somehow tied to Maggie's new home. We don't know who she is or why she is so attached to Maggie and her friends; could she be the ghost of the young woman who lived in Maggie's house over a century before, or is she one of the murdered girls, trying to warn Maggie, Pauline, and Liam? While this is certainly a compelling part of the story, the real heart of The Vanishing Season is Maggie and her friendship with Pauline and Liam. Maggie is cautious and thoughtful, the exact opposite of Pauline, who lives in the moment and doesn't want to grow up. And then there's Liam, whom Maggie thinks she might be falling for, even though his world revolves around Pauline. I became so attached to these three while reading and there were parts (you'll know them when you get to them) when I just sat staring at the page, whispering "no" because I knew what was coming and my heart was breaking for them.

What really makes this book stand out is Jodi Lynn Anderson's gorgeous writing style. It especially comes through when reading the ghost's point of view. One of my favorite images from the book is the description of moths gathering around the ghost, as if she's a light they're drawn to. In a lot of ways, the ghost girl in this book reminded me of the narrator, Death, in Markus Zusak's The Book Thief; they both had this mesmerizing way of describing their worlds and the people they watched over.

Favorite Quotes
"Still, below, in the early dawn, something runs rampant through Gill Creek. It tips over garbage cans, taps against windows, breathes onto people's necks. The residents think it's animals, or the wind. But I think it's fear itself."
Okay, how great is this quote? I love the air of foreboding it gives; when I read "taps against windows, breaths onto people's necks," I actually felt a little shiver of fear myself! 

Maggie, Liam, and Pauline musing over who the killer could be:
"I think it's Liam."
Liam stared into the fire. "I did it with s'more sticks."
This line absolutely cracked me up while reading. I love, love, love it when authors add witty banter to stories.

"I think you go on. I don't think you disappear. I think my dad watches over me, like my guardian angel. Only sometimes I feel like if I leave here, or if I change too much, he won't recognize me anymore."
One of the sadder quotes from the book, but I loved it because it really gave us insight into Pauline and why she's so wild and childlike, and unsure about the future, whereas Maggie is cautious and has everything planned out.  

Final Thoughts
Buy | Borrow | Skip
 The Vanishing Season is a beautifully written, heart-wrenching story about friendship and growing up--definitely a book I'll be adding to my collection.

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