My rating: 4 of 5 stars
3.5 stars, rounded up to 4, because I really did enjoy this book.
This book is less of a thriller/mystery, and more of a family drama. There is a central, important mystery- the disappearance of a young girl – but the story deals more with how it affects those who remain and how it shapes their actions into the future, than with actual possibilities for her fate.
Lily disappeared from her family’s Queens apartment one night and changed her family’s world forever. Esme, the main character, is forced to examine her priorities and how she can move on, using her love of ballet to help get her through. All the while, her family begins to crumble around her. About halfway through, the novel jumps eight years into the future, when a phone call from her older sister shakes Esme, now a successful ballerina, to the core.
The book really is suspenseful, in that it is quite a mystery how a little 4-year-old girl just walks out of her apartment and seemingly disappears into thin air. I mean, how is that not a complicated mystery that you just can’t wait to be solved? But the central storyline isn’t really about what happened to Lily, but how her remaining family members just wilt under the strain of the emotional aftermath. They desperately search for her, while they really seem to lose each other in the process. That’s what makes the book so emotional and realistic. It’s a heavy, heavy situation that everyone hopes they will never have to go through and can’t imagine how to move on if it did.
Esme is a great character, but I felt like she was a bit more mature than an 11-year-old would have been, though I guess everyone’s situation is different. There were times I definitely had to remind myself that she was only 11, not 15 or 16. And the emotional strain, especially as she prepares to perform a ballet that reminds her of her younger sister, is so realistic, i was absolutely gripped.
Overall, I think this was a great book, though I wish there was maybe a little more focus on the mystery itself and more tension created there, rather than with the family itself. The novel felt so heavy in parts, it was really very emotional and almost draining. But I did enjoy this book and it was very powerful. Just know what you’re walking into.