In Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver, we are tumbled into the lives of two girls who are not just sisters but best friends. Nick cannot remember when Dara was not there. Always in her young life, Dara was there, and always the same question, “want to play?” Life for them both was an interaction of deep love and respect. Outside themselves, only Nicks friend Parker, and Dara’s friend Arianna are included into the fold of that closeness. As they both grow older, Nick is the good daughter, and Dara is a great deal wilder. Choices in life are often what takes away the familiar and gives us only a ghost of the past.
The accident changes everything. Nick doesn’t remember what happened, but she was driving and Dara has been unable to forgive her. The scars remind Nick every day, and the silence from Dara is almost more then she can bear. The embarrassment from the scars and her lack of knowledge of the cause of the crash make her avoid those she cares about. She need Dara more than ever but does not know how to reach her. When Parker comes back into the picture, she is ready for his advice. But what about Dara, Parker had begun dating her, but why was he now acting like it never happened?
Can she trust him as she used to when they were younger and before she understood her feelings?
As Nick starts searching for answers, and continues to try and find a way to reconnect, Dara goes missing. When Nick begins in earnest to move forward and try to help find her, she reaches an impenetrable wall. She can feel the difference, and suddenly everyone is looking at her oddly as well. Is Dara gone for good and what is her part in the disappearance? She feels like she should know the answers but cannot break the barrier in her mind. Is it too late to bring back all that is lost?
This was a startling work of mystery and drama. There was so much real life awkwardness and the feeling of closeness that develops as children that is was easy to get lost in the pages. You begin to become involved in the nuances and feel the urgency of Nick’s concerns. The characters are so real that you almost see them as the story evolves. And that too is a strange and dangerous situation.
The mystery and sadness permeate, saturating your own belief of the final outcome. Yet Oliver then takes a decidedly strange twist giving us an answer to just how human we are when it comes to feelings and family.
If you enjoy mystery and romance, with a twist of mind games and behavior you will find this work the one you are looking for. Once you begin you step into the shoes of the characters you will find it a hard book to put down.
This would be a great work for a reading group or book club. The nuances create a great deal of controversy and dialogue.