Bailee Madison and Stefne Miller’s newest novel follows the successful, popular high school star Payton Brave. Payton has it all, but she’s haunted by her twin sister’s disappearance and her inability to remember what happened. She tries to live a normal life, but is growing weary of her friends and social standing and finding herself turning more and more to her sister’s boyfriend, Cole, for companionship. As school drags on, Payton knows there’s only one way for her to find peace: discover what happened to her sister.
This book originally sounds like a classic, plot driven mystery, but after reading it, I actually thought it seemed more character driven. The plot is relatively simple, and the kidnapping lacks the usual intricacy of a true mystery, meaning that the crime is more like a one that would happen in real life. Therefore, the majority of the book focuses on Payton’s transformation as a person. She isn’t content any longer with her place at school or the relationships she’s investing in and decides instead to spend time with Cole and some of the less popular crowd. In the end, the authors offer a very interesting twist that largely is what makes the book worthwhile.
Although I appreciated reading about Payton’s progression and search for her sister, the high school drama seemed like it was a bit much at times. I’ve been out of high school for three years now, so those memories aren’t quite as fresh. However, the constant mention of a social hierarchy seems a bit unnatural in the sense that it usually isn’t discussed because everyone has something of a grasp of where they stand.
Another development I was unsure about was the portrayal of memory loss. Essentially, Payton can’t remember much because of the trauma she experienced when she saw her sister kidnapped. However, it is a bit confusing how at times it seems like she remembers quite a bit of her life while at other times she doesn’t remember anything at all. Again, I’m not sure how this type of memory loss generally manifests itself, but this seems to be a bit inconsistent.
Finally, I would like to say that I enjoyed the setting of the story. I haven’t read much contemporary YA set in the South, and I enjoyed the change of scenery. The tight knit community also adds mystery and suspicion to the plot. Some parts of this book are a bit shaky to me, but I still thought the characters were likable, and the twist at the end makes this book worth a weekend read if you’re searching for a mystery.
Losing Brave by Bailee Madison and Stefne Miller is now available.