Life in the ’60s is supposedly a pleasant and carefree time. However, after the disappearance of Caroline Galvin’s older sister, Jess, everything in Caroline’s life takes a turn for the worse. Her family is falling apart, her crush starts dating one of her friends and she isn’t sure whether or not she’ll ever see Jess again. The only thing that might be going right in her life is Tony. Tony, Jess’s boyfriend, begins to give Caroline unwarranted attention soon after Jess’s disappearance and even suggests that they go to California to find her. While the offer is enticing, Caroline can’t help but have doubts about Tony’s true character. Especially when most of Caroline’s friends, her parents and the police believe that Tony is responsible for Jess’s disappearance as well as the death of Geraldine, another teenage girl.
It was interesting how the author crafted the destruction of Caroline’s social life and her home life. Caroline’s parents’ marriage begins to fall apart and having to deal with the disappearance of their troubled daughter doesn’t help. Her mother completely ignores her most of the time and Caroline believes that her mother is having an affair while her father is preoccupied with alcohol. Once Caroline falls for Billy, her friend May immediately gets back together with him after having broken up with him multiple times. Instead of fighting May for Billy, Caroline chooses to focus on Tony, who she believes can help her find her sister. What Caroline isn’t prepared for is Tony’s world. After meeting his friends, attending his parties and learning more about the life her sister was living, Caroline decides that she is no longer Caroline but “Caro.” Caroline thinks that becoming Caro automatically transforms her into someone who can handle the chaos that’s overtaking her life. She also dyes her hair blonde.
I don’t think that the other characters helped to clarify anything about Jess’s disappearance but Caroline’s “detective skills” and intuition help her to figure out what’s going on. Albeit, at an incredibly slow pace. With that said, the suspense leading up to the climax of this story was so unengaging. I felt as if I was forcing myself to read through the pages of Caroline’s boring everyday life so that, when I reached the ending, I would understand how she deduced this mystery. It wasn’t worth the wait. I think that the author could’ve ended the story 32 pages sooner. Granted, I liked the ending, but the journey there was so bland.
What is possibly the saving grace for this novel is that the climax packs in so much action that it makes up for the lack of it throughout the story. The ending also shows a different side to the protagonist. I wouldn’t say that Caroline’s character significantly matured over the course of the novel but she does become wiser about a lot of things. Thankfully, these are the things that help save her from ending up like her sister.
Length: 224 pages
Publisher: Merit Press (December 16, 2015)
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Completed: January 2016
Source: ARC Copy